The Everyday Practice of Dzogchen ~ A Teaching of HH Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

The everyday practice of dzogchen is simply to develop a complete carefree acceptance, an openness to all situations without limit.

We should realize openness as the playground of our emotions and relate to people without artificiality, manipulation or strategy.

We should experience everything totally, never withdrawing into ourselves as a marmot hides in its hole.

This practice releases tremendous energy which is usually constricted by the process of maintaining fixed reference points. Referentiality is the process by which we retreat from the direct experience of everyday life.

Being present in the moment may initially trigger fear. But by welcoming the sensation of fear with complete openness, we cut through the barriers created by habitual emotional patterns.

When we engage in the practice of discovering space, we should develop the feeling of opening ourselves out completely to the entire universe. We should open ourselves with absolute simplicity and nakedness of mind. This is the powerful and ordinary practice of dropping the mask of self-protection.

~HH Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

Read the whole teaching here

Special Event: An Evening With Kenny Johnson ~ Tuesday, January 24


Tuesday, January 24, 7:30 p.m.

Real Dharma is honored to present an evening with Kenny Johnson, author of The Last Hustle.



Tuesday, January 24, 7:30 p.m.

The Common Well

85 Bolinas Rd., Suite 8

Fairfax, CA 94930

 Hustler, pimp, thief. Kenny Johnson was a career criminal who spent 20 years in prison, when he was transformed by a profound spiritual experience. Now he proclaims the availability of grace, redemption and liberation for all. Kenny is the author of The Last Hustle, his story of crime and spiritual liberation, and is the founder of This Sacred Space, a program for currently and previously incarcerated individuals.

Lama Lakshey Zangpo Rinpoche to Speak at Real Dharma

Real Dharma is honored to host Lama Lakshey Zangpo Rinpoche on Tuesday, December 20, at 7:30 p.m. for a talk: “Relaxing in Emptiness.” The talk will be held at Real Dharma Sangha’s regular meeting place, The Common Well, 85 Bolinas Rd., Suite 8, Fairfax, CA 94930.

Lama Lakshey Zangpo Rinpoche was born in Golok, Tibet and was recognized as a tulku at a young age. He trained under his root lama His Holiness Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche at Larung Monastery and with other notable teachers. Rinpoche came to the United States in 2007 and is fluent in English. He is the founder of Tsinta Mani Choling Buddhist center in Spokane, Washington, and is vice principal of Senge Takste School, a school and home for 400 orphans in Golok, Tibet.

Nonduality and Teacher-Student Ethics

Nondual teachings, such as Mahayana Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta, proclaim the ultimate unity of all experience, in the end deconstructing all oppositions—self-other, good-bad, even the distinctions between samsara and nirvana, liberation and bondage, and teacher and student. What role then can there be, in a domain where all borders and distinctions dissolve, for clear ethical boundaries in the student-teacher relationship? In particular, how in the face of the awareness of limitless unity and freedom, can there be clear prohibitions against teacher-student sexual relations, financial exploitation, authoritarianism, physical abuse or any other form of potentially harmful conduct between teacher and student?

Ethical boundaries create a necessary safe vessel—an environment that is free (as much as possible) from fear of exploitation—in which teacher and student can deeply explore the realization of nondual openness and freedom. Without a sense of safety, at least from gross harm and exploitation, the deep examination and questioning of the reality of all distinctions, leading to the dissolving of all borders in nondual realization, will almost certainly not occur. For this reason, it is precisely the teacher’s commitment to communicating and facilitating nondual understanding that demands the discipline to refrain from transgressing ethical boundaries in the teacher-student relationship. Ethical boundaries, such as Buddhism’s five precepts—not to kill, lie, steal, slander, or engage in inappropriate sexuality—provide the necessary safe structure in which nondual inquiry and realization can effectively occur.

Any teacher who is genuinely concerned with fostering nondual understanding will find ethical limits in the teacher-student relationship useful and liberating, rather than a limiting burden. And any student who genuinely hopes to realize nonduality will find the safe vessel of ethical boundaries an environment in which nondual inquiry and liberation can most readily occur.

For some, these basic principles may seem obvious. They are clearly set forth in all genuine nondual (not to mention dualistic) spiritual traditions. Yet, perhaps, due to the subtlety of nondual understanding, the novelty of widespread nondual spirituality in the West, and the often unconscious power of greed, anger and delusion—even in those who appear to be realized—they need to be stated, clarified and affirmed, it seems, again and again.

May all students and teachers fearlessly enter and enjoy the safe vessel of nondual inquiry, free from harm and exploitation.

7 Points on the Path of Liberation

A talk by Hal Blacker giving an overview of the path of liberation, including his approach to seven main topics: awakening to one’s true nature as the goal; the importance of intention; the view of emptiness and Buddha Nature; meditation; the role of the teacher; embodying understanding; and the transmission of the Dharma to the West. This talk was given on October 26, 2010 at the Real Dharma Sangha in Fairfax, CA.

If the audio player does not appear or work in your browser, download or listen here.

If you want liberation, a real teacher will find you

The strong and sincere desire for liberation will bring a real teacher of liberation to you. This is important, and, for most of us, necessary in order to realize our true nature.

Even though self-reliance in the end will reveal our true nature, most of us won’t recognize it without a teacher to point it out. Ignorance of our real nature creates such an all-pervading and beginningless sense of fragmentation, separation and lack that it usually takes someone else to both point out and confirm our true nature as unity, union and completion. The all-pervading nature of ignorance will make it difficult, if not impossible, to find, recognize and gain firm confidence in our true nature without guidance and help.

The desire to see your true face will meet with the teacher’s desire to be your mirror. Your desire for freedom will make you like dry tinder, and the teacher, seeing this, will throw you a lit match.

It is said that the coming together of 3 auspicious circumstances will make liberation likely. Those 3 are a teacher who has recognized their own true nature, a wisdom lineage and a devoted student. Here, devotion means only the sincere desire to be free and the willingness to let go and open. Just that much trust or devotion is necessary. Then, the power of the teachings of the wisdom lineage, as wielded by a teacher with self-recognition, can do its job and set one free.

Self-reliance is the best guru

The guru question is a tricky one and is fraught with controversy. But it does not have to be too confusing. For most of us, a guru—in the popular sense of an absolute spiritual authority or God man, demanding complete obedience, submission and devotion—is unnecessary and is not conducive to liberation.

Contrary to popular belief, the major Eastern wisdom traditions do not say otherwise. Guru is a Sanskrit word, from India, meaning “teacher.” In India, the word guru is used for almost any kind of teacher. If you study music, you have a music guru. If you study astrology, you have a jyotish guru. And so on. The word guru in common parlance in India does not necessarily imply complete obedience and submission.

In the tradition of Advaita Vedanta, the guru is the one who gives you self-knowledge. While it would be natural to treat your guru with respect and gratitude, there is no requirement that you absolutely obey and submit to the guru’s authority. On the contrary, inquiry and questioning are a necessary part of the path of self-knowledge.

In the early Buddhist sutras, the word guru is never used. The Buddha is referred to with respect, as a teacher or a kalyanamitra, spiritual friend, but never as a guru. The same is true in the later Mahayana teachings. The exception is in the Vajrayana or tantric Buddhist teachings. In tantra, the latest form and a very specialized kind of Buddhist practice, absolute submission to a guru is required, due to the esoteric, complex and dangerous methods used. Some people may choose to engage in these kinds of secret practices, and if they do, they will be required to submit to a guru. The analogy is undergoing surgery—you don’t get off the operating table in the middle of a dangerous operation, or start arguing with your surgeon in the middle of surgery. But Vajrayana practices are neither necessary nor probably appropriate for most people. Finally, Zen is a special case, where obedience and submission to the master is often traditionally taught. But I think that is a product of the hierarchical cultures in which Zen flourished, rather than a necessity for enlightenment. In the West, that sort of hierarchical relationship is unnatural and often counter-productive. Many Zen teachers in the West are accordingly moderating the hierarchical nature of the Zen student-teacher relationship.

Buddha, when approaching his death, urged his followers to be “islands unto yourselves.” He always stressed that his words should not be believed based upon his authority, but should always be investigated and tested for yourself. In the end, a teacher can only point the way. Each individual must walk it on his own. Each person must discover her own true self within herself.  The true self is the ultimate guru. A teacher can help point you there, but in the end liberation is a condition of complete self-reliance.