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Buddhist teaching by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu #4

Renunciation, Transformation and Self Liberation

So that is the way. That means in Tantrism when we feel angry we do not stop it, we do not block it, but continue in pure vision, not impure vision. Not that we manifest Vajrapani to fight with him or her. That is impure vision. So this is more or less characteristic of the path of Tantrism; transformation. I have told you already,

Tantra means without interruption, continuation. Continuation, clarity, and emptiness, that is our nature. We discover that. We know that, and then by being in that state we can get in the real knowledge through clarity or emptiness.

So these are the two paths related with body, the aspect of body, and aspect more of the energy level of speech. Then we have the path mainly related with our mind. That is the kind of teaching like Dzogchen.

What is Dzogchen? Dzogchen is not Tantra or Sutra. Dzogchen is a method which goes directly to the level of mind; through mind to nature of mind. So the characteristic of the path also is not transformation, not renunciation, but is called self-liberation.

What does that mean, self-liberation? Self-liberation means, for example, in Sutra, if we have some problem, to overcome that problem we need some kind of antidote. For example, when we are angry, then we try to do a visualization, or apply something, like compassion. This is the antidote. If there is a fire, the antidote is water. We need water. If we put water on fire, then there are less problems. That is an example. This is characteristic of Sutra.

In Tantra, we transform. For example, when we are angry, we do not look for an antidote, but we transform. What is the difference? When we say transform, transforming means transforming emotions or passions, something in general we consider negative, but its nature is the same nature as wisdom.

There are not two different natures, they only manifest in different ways, two aspects, the pure and impure aspect. The pure aspect manifestation manifests like wisdom. Impure, in this case, become emotions, passions. But the nature is the same.

For that reason, in Tantrism they use the example of gold. Gold has value; gold is considered a very precious object. So we can take an ornament of gold, like a statue of gold, and make a statue of Buddha, a golden Buddha, and then everyone thinks there is a very nice golden statue of Buddha.

Particularly people who follow Buddhism, they have devotion and think this is a very nice golden Buddha, and bring flowers, incense, offer something, and pray, etc. We do this. But then, this statue of Buddha can be transformed one day because someone doesn't like having a statue of Buddha but they like gold. They can transform it and make another ornament or something; they can make an ashtray, a golden ashtray. Very elegant.

The nature of gold does not change, it is always the same gold, but now the aspect has changed. In this case, no one is going to pray, or offer flowers or incense, but now they throw cigarettes or something dirty inside. That is an example. This is a very important example in Tantrism to make an understanding of what transformation means. The nature has not changed. There is not this explanation in Sutra. We say, for example, Buddha seed, Buddha nature. Everybody has it. But it doesn't mean that it is related with our energy level. This is a Tantric aspect.

So in the Sutra teaching, if we have emotions we consider that negative. We throw them away. and they have no value. We do not think they have the same nature as wisdom. So you see, the point of view is different. When we apply Tantrism, transformation becomes very important, to transform into pure vision; like the mandala, deities, five wisdoms, etc. In this case it is very important that the practitioner has an idea of pure and impure vision, since they are transforming.

In Dzogchen, when we say self-liberation, we don't need that. In Dzogchen, we know very well we are in samsara. Samsara is impure condition. But we don't need to consider, "Oh, this is impure vision, now we need to transform into pure vision." This is a Tantric point of view. In Dzogchen, pure or impure vision, there is no difference. It is the same.

Public Talk, Berkeley California, May 1, 2001

Transcribed by Anastasia McGhee Edited by Naomi Zeitz