“Resting the mind in a deepened awareness of the natural truth is the whole emphasis of all the various Buddhist teachings, whether in the Theravada tradition, the Zen tradition, or particularly the analytical approach of shamatha, vipashyana, and mahayana Madhyamika school. We see it later, with further elaboration, in the various trainings of Mahamudra and Dzogchen. The emphasis is on not doing anything much beyond resting the mind in awareness of the nature of things as they truly are. From recognizing this absolutely come many different anecdotes and references.

One such reference to keep in mind is in the Vajracchedika Sutra, or Diamond Sutra, as it is more popularly known. The Diamond Sutra closely resembles the Heart Sutra teachings. In it, Subhuti struggles to understand the reality of perception. His reflection and analysis have to do with the nature of mind and perceptible objects. What is the nature of the perceiving mind? What is the relationship between the perceiving mind and perceived objects? At the conclusion of the text, there is a conversation between Subhuti and Buddha Shakyamuni that is considered to be the very soul of the Diamond Sutra. After a whole afternoon in conversation, the Buddha asks Subhuti, “Have you understood?” Subhuti answers, “I have understood.” Then the Buddha asks, “Has the teacher taught today?” And Subhuti says, “No, you have not taught.” To which the Buddha replies, “Absolutely right. You have finally understood.”

In the vajrayana tradition, Tilopa says that ultimate abiding in the “nature as is” requires the meditator not to meditate, not to “see,” not to think, not to express, not to perceive, not to recognize or know. Simply abide.

In the Dzogchen tradition, we find Padmasambhava saying the same thing. When Yeshe Tsogyal asks how to practice the dharma authentically, and how to be absolutely sure one’s meditation is not fabricated dharma, Padmasambhava replies:

Do not do anything: do not follow, do not think, do not conceptualize,
do not articulate or express anything. Do not do anything.
With nothing to see, nothing to follow, nothing to abide in—
Simply let be.

What Padmasambhava is specifically pointing out here is that one is not enlightened through fabricated dharmas. One needs to understand dharma beyond fabrication. One will never be enlightened through indicated dharma; one needs a dharma beyond indications. One will never be enlightened through expressed dharma; one needs a dharma beyond expression.

Throughout Buddhist history, all of the teachings and various methods emphasize this one thing: ultimately, you will understand when you can let go and abide in a state of absolute openness and natural ease.”

From the Introduction to the Heart Sutra, a teaching bestowed by Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche at the Rigpa Center in New York City, 3 September 2013.

Photo: Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche at Danakosha, 13th of May 2012.