Krodha (Kyle Dixon) wrote:

The Melong resurrected this talk given by Elio in 2011, revised now in 2018 and republished.

A nice article in itself, but why Elio insists on the tirthika overtones, such as needlessly including “true self” in the title of this article which otherwise does not mention anything of that sort, is something I don’t get. Seems to be a continual theme in his contributions, which are otherwise quite nice.

This article was originally published 2 years prior to Elio’s Marvelous Primordial State which featured the controversial addition of a Ramana Maharshi quote as the epigraph. Elio later stated that this was perhaps a mistake, or at the very least something he should have reconsidered.

Why do I care? Because with Rinpoche passing, individuals like Elio are going to end up being spokespeople for Norbu Rinpoche’s organization and legacy.

ChNN was always very careful with his translation choices and what he decided to publish in written form. There was a clear and thorough attention to detail on his part.

Despite arguments that could be made in relation to the principle of bdag nyid chen po, the implementation of “true self” in such a cavalier manner — in the title of an article where it isn’t even necessary no less — is a bit reckless in my opinion.

While I should take Elio’s advice from this article, that ”...most of the time the opinions we hold on to with great attachment are useless.” I’m still marginally concerned and am airing my grievances.
Lopon Malcolm replied:
A couple of observations:

The term "true self" is nowhere used in any Indian or Tibetan Buddhist text, not even in gzhan stong texts.

Even in the Uttaratantra, where we find the Tibetan term, dam pa'i bdag in the discussion of ātmapāramitā, the Sanskrit text simply gives the term as ātma. The "dam pa" was added by Ngog Lotsawa to distinguish this "self," free from the proliferation of the self [i.e. existence] imputed by the hindus and nonself [i.e. nonexistence] imputed by śrāvakas, as a quality of the dharmakāya, — in other words, it is another way of saying the dharmakāya is free from extremes. This usage in the Uttaratantra comes from contrasting the impurity, nonidentity, suffering, and impermanence of compounded phenomena, with the purity, identity, bliss, and permanence of dharmakāya. But if someone should think this contextual usage of "self" with respect to dharmakāya means dharmakāya is an existent self, they have not understood anything of Mahāyāna at all, let alone Dzogchen, or even Buddhadharma for that matter.

With respect to the term bdag nyid chen po, it is a somewhat rare Dzogchen technical term, also found in the Guhyagarbha literature. Even so, its usage is very restricted. In his commentary on the Kun byed rgyal po, Khenpo Zhenphen Ozer glosses it as rang byung ye shes.

Kevin: What about "merging with" for attaining enlightenment?

Malcolm: There is nothing with which to merge.

According to the teachings of Man ngag sde (but not sems sde or klong sde), at the time of death, the elements dissolve: earth into water, water into fire, fire into air, air into space, space into consciousness, consciousness into luminosity, and finally, luminosity dissolves into pristine consciousness. This happens to all beings at the time of death. The question is: will one recognize the sounds, lights and rays of one's own pristine consciousness in the bardo of dharmatā or not? If one does, liberation. If one does not, well, at worst one will be required to take rebirth in a nirmanakāya buddhafield, or at the very worst, one will be reborn a human being with a definite chance to meet and practice Dzogchen again.
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