Mahamudra and the True Nature of Your Mind
Mind as Empty Space:
There are several methods in Mahamudra meditation practice we can use to realize the true nature of our mind. The first method we will discuss is the method of self-inquiry. This is the practice of directly looking within, self examination, as it were--the process of questioning your own nature to see what you may discover about yourself. We can attain a profound level of awareness using the process of seated meditation to turn our attention inward while candidly asking ourselves, who am I really? What am I ultimately? What is my consciousness? What is the actual content of my mind? Through self analysis, this internal probing, and then the deep reflection upon these essential questions that naturally follow, we enable ourselves to more fully realize the true nature of our mind. You see, the answers to all our questions all lie within.
Through this practice of internal inquiry, we begin a process of self realization that will inevitably expand our awareness of the vast, borderless, empty space within our own minds. The beginning of this process of Mahamudra is also the end. The Sufi Mystic poet Rumi certainly realized this for himself, he tells us; “the desire to know yourself - will end all other desires.”
Another method of discovery is to focus this same level of concentrated attention outwardly. We do this by simply gazing directly into the sky, especially the night sky, doing so with an open, yet focused attention. Let your visual consciousness settle into the empty vastness of outer space. Doing so will trigger an explicit experience of boundless awareness. Outer space will soon reflect the inner space of the mind. It does so just as the inner space of the mind reflects the vastness of outer space. This method of practice will bring the revelation that your mind is as vast and formless as space itself. It will be revealed that what you perceive within you is what you perceive without you, and vice versa.
Through a consistent Mahamudra meditation practice we cultivate a new orientation with our immediate and immaterial true nature. This true nature has always been there just waiting to be realized. Mahamudra has no causes and no conditions. It is a practice without specific dogma or method, no determined path to grant us the room we need to transcend. It simply develops a new relationship to time and space.
Awareness is Everything and Nothing:
Mahamudra points us toward the clear-light mind of awareness which is ultimate truth. This is slightly paradoxical. It is the notion that something is actually nothing. Simultaneously, we come to realize that this something is not completely nothing. It’s a kind of “Crazy Wisdom”, this knowing and aware aspect of yourself that is being revealed, though it has no specific location or material form. The true nature of mind is so obvious, so close to us that we can easily take it for granted, we can overlook it as insignificant. In actuality this luminous, naked awareness is the very essence of who we are and our awareness of it is Mahamudra. Awareness is our ground of being, our Buddha nature. Naked awareness is the very essence of Mahamudra. Awareness is simultaneously everything and nothing.
The Union of Emptiness and Awareness:
To practice Mahamudra is to experience the unrestrained, unbridled synthesis of awareness and emptiness. As we consistently meditate we notice the overwhelming natural awareness that is always present within us, just waiting to be experienced, realized. As we continue to diligently practice we begin the self-reflection process that is key to Mahamudra practice. In time, we recline or rest in this brilliant awareness that is as open and borderless as infinite space. We experience the immediate non-dual insight that transcends all conceptualization. This transcendence is the essence of Mahamudra, the ability to simply rest in awareness and simply be.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche the great Master of Mahamudra taught us that to rest in this pure light mind of awareness is the only practice we need to attain an enlightenment:
“Banish all hope and fear and rest in the unshakable certainty
that the eternal simplicity of awareness is itself all that needs to be
done to be an Awakened Being.
That is the perfect way of meditation, in which peace,
love and wisdom will flourish without effort.”
A Working Samadhi:
The term “Working Samadhi” is a Zen term that refers to one's ability to carry one's state of Mahamudra or enlightened awareness off the meditation cushion and into everyday life. Doing so enables us to bring a fresh perspective to all of life’s challenges. This experience is also known as “Intercession Practice”. This Intercession Practice, the taking of meditation from the cushion seat into our daily lives, this resting in enlightened awareness throughout the course of our day, gives us the sensitivity we need to see all things with fresh eyes, holistically, from all angles. In this respect our awareness is as vast as space, and the pathway to our own innate wisdom and compassion is clear. This too is Mahamudra.
Through our regular practice of simply resting in naked awkwardness or Mahamudra, we connect with who we are and who we have always been, at the very core of our being. Our natural state of being is liberated from all fetters and layers of conditioning. Our naked awareness is who we truly are and is available to us at every moment of every day. It becomes available to us quite naturally and the wisdom it engenders is intuitively accessed.
Every experience we have becomes an opportunity to wake up, to realize and experience the emptiness of naked awareness. We cannot just look at our awareness in each life experience. We must go beyond cognitive or intellectual understanding and allow ourselves to experience awareness through simply being at ease--resting in the great peace within our own effortless presence.
The great modern Mahamudra master, Sogyal Rinpoche, gives us this instruction:
“Not moving from natural presence of awareness.
Not fabricating any states of mind.
Stop all effort altogether and rest.
Rest in the great peace of natural awareness.”
In this respect, the clear-light mind of naked awareness is actually impossible to see directly, trying to do so is like an eye trying to see itself, but when you are consciously open to any given experience, whether you are seeing, hearing or thinking, the experience itself gives way to a dramatic increase in awareness.
It is like listening to a piece of beautiful music, when you think to your self “I am listening to music” you are only partially aware, not listening or enjoying the complete experience of the music. When you rest in complete awareness of the music, without trying to intellectualize or conceptualize the experience, you feel and perceive the music absolutely--in full. We, each one of us, are capable of completely resting in the awareness of every life experience in this way. This is what the mystics have always referred to as an enlightened state of being.
Mahamudra practice takes us to the core of our being through our own natural state of naked awareness, it is not created through our practice, it is revealed to us through our practice. No matter who we are, or how we have previously lived our lives up to now, it is readily available to each and every one of us.