The Yoga of Thought Transcendence

A look at some pertinent quotations from the Ati Yoga Text, which begins:

"To the Joyful One, (who has fully grasped) that there is nothing that makes both (persons and phenomena) what they are, who has acquired everfresh awareness untainted by concepts, and primordial contact with the total field of events and meanings;
To the quiet nature of everything, the supreme path in which there is nothing to accept or reject;
To those who are one with all the Victorious Ones, (and possess) the ten powers, such as never turning back;
To the very sameness of these three places of refuge, I very confidently dedicate myself, without conceptualizing (this sameness)."

Having studied the Dzog Chen Text entitled Cultivating the Primordial State of Pure and Total Presence by Mañjuśrīmitra,* otherwise known as the Ati Yoga Text, IRI set out to scrutinize it carefully for further clarification, resulting in the following questions and answers. (Verse numbers from the original Text are included for reference.)

*(as translated by Namkai Norbu, Kennard Lipman and Barrie Simmons in the book Primordial Experience.)


TEXT: ‘The greatest skilful action is this hidden activity of those committed to pure and total presence. (134)

Q: Is it hidden because it is not objective action, not from one to another, not accessible to ordinary vision?

A: This question answers itself well, but more pondering and less attack should make undeniably plain why such action is termed 'hidden.'
TEXT: ‘When one has thoroughly understood that there are no ‘entities’, everything then arises as the total field of events and meanings - understanding this is the supreme state of those who have overcome emotional conflicts’. (115)
Q: The intuition of there being no entities seems to be clear at some times, and hazy at others. Is emotionality managed entirely by self-discipline, or does it no longer arise because the non-existence of self is fully understood?

A: There are no entities in perceiving; those are all the product of a conceptualising activity. As to the sharpness of focus, it continually shifts, since nothing is really fixed. Calmly riding the emotional currents that seem to arise in us should be a good way to 'overcome emotional conflicts.' Finally, alert to any advertising copy, we do not concern ourselves with a 'supreme state.'

TEXT: ‘The variety of experience pertinent to each appears through their own habitual mode of vision.’ (63)
Q: Does this refer to each being in a personal dream? It seems that keen students of the way of truth are able to synchronise their vision by living the same life and acknowledging reality as the basis.

A: Our experience is the product of habit. Living in proximity and examining from moment to moment, alone and together, what could be the total significance of our living is the best way to help each other not to lapse into false positions. The latter are known by their attendant vexation.
TEXT: ‘Since, if one enquires into our limited idea, ‘entities’, they are found to be non-existent even as regards their apparitional nature........’ (92)

Q: How is it, then, that we see each other?

A: Do we not see each other by means of a potentially infinite complex of misinformation* known as the human condition? Since the complex is bound to be unfathomable in its potential, it would be futile to search in it for a fundamental means or cause. We must therefore be satisfied that the capability to see each other is the best possible starting point for our investigation of ultimate meaning.
* Why 'misinformation'? Well, if we knew our 'information' to be correct in whole and in part we should surely be inseparable from ultimate meaning and would have no use for further study!

TEXT: 'Grasping experience through thought, which is the sphere of operation of our ‘mind,’ is itself the ultimate content of what is.’ (112)

Q: Does ‘the ultimate content of what is’ refer to appearance? Is appearance then created through thought? Can there be experiencing without thought?

A: There is no 'ultimate content.' Content requires containment and a container. 'Appearance' is an empty concept, i.e., it does not contain anything. Let us say that in our experience, there is our world of sensorially perceptible thought and a corresponding non-world of imperceptible thought. If, on the other hand, one is thinking of life without thought, then the idea of experiencing can simply be dispensed with. Inconceivability is then one's middle name, as it were!

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