Blinded: Naropa 12

When all is said and done, Naropa is each of us, just as are Santa Claus, Mohammed, Jesus, and the devil. Part of the complexity of the human psyche is that we are designed to give and be joyous, to seek and be surprised by what we find, to go out on a limb and be willing to do so, or to hang back and not do any of these things. The devil is always the small that belittles the grand; it is always the denial of the obvious and the shame-blame feedback loop that is set in motion with either of the above.

Naropa has so far met the Guru of his dreams eleven times and has not understood the obvious. The Guru is not only someone with a name and a set of imagined teachings. Tilopa is trying to point out that the Guru is all around us all the time, and that the Guru is inside us, as close as our heart. Naropa imagines that Tilopa should interact with him in a particular way, offer particular teachings, and that it all will be fairly predictable. What if Tilopa has other intentions or methods than what Naropa imagines and thinks are the ones of value?

Tilopa had begun telling Naropa how he would be disguised or how he might recognize him so that Naropa might begin to acknowledge the obvious instead of clinging to his imaginations of how this sought-after encounter should play out. Naropa had been told to “become a worthy vessel,” to learn to “harness the horse of bliss and radiance” of the mind, and to free himself of the “bonds of this and that.” He was told this enlightened advice by a collection of “freaks:” one eyed people, a blind man with sight, an earless man who could hear, someone without a tongue who was speaking, a lame man running about, and a corpse gently fanning itself.

This is part II of the lesson related to the teaching on emptying the mind, and thus the experience of liberated emptiness that is the core of the Prajnaparamita and of the Mahamudra teachings that Tilopa has been offering.

After this interesting cadre tell Naropa about being a worthy disciple, they complete the teaching with:

“Then shines the sun of self-luster which understands
One-eyedness as the quality of many,
Blindness as seeing without seeing a thing,
Deafness as hearing without hearing a thing,
Muteness as speaking without saying something,
Lameness as moving without being hurried,
Death’s immobility as the breeze of the Unoriginated (like air moved by a fan).”

The Heart Sutra (Prajnaparamita) states, “Form is emptiness, emptiness is form. … No eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind. No form, no sound, no smell, no taste, no object of touch, no phenomena.” These two teachings are saying the same thing.

Naropa is being told that if he practices according to the instructions of a worthy disciple and frees himself of the bonds of this and that through harnessing the self-radiant and blissful Mind then he will experience the freed mind as the sun of self-luster which understands.” Understands what? That the qualities of the many are all describing the self-contained, never separate, dynamic empty celestially universal plasma that is ONE-ALL-NON (not none but NON).

Before the Buddha lived, 2600 years ago, the Vedic contemplative teachings stated that “Brahma is the many that is the One.” The 100,000 names of the Divine Feminine predate the 100,00 names of God which are long after the Buddha. In each case, the many are attempts to describe the ONE. This is the one-eyedness of the illumined, awakened Mind. No longer is it bound by this and thats, separating everything into mental and emotional baskets of preferred and disliked, valued and worthless. Quantum physics now empirically understands that just as particles “appear” out of waves of energy and “disappear” back into them, those many particles are simultaneously also the wave. Science still has preference about what it finds and what it “thinks” these particles of particles are for but science has known for almost 100 years what the Buddha, the Advaitist Vedantists before him, and the Divine Feminine priestesses before them experienced and taught. There is only ONE, and everything and everyone is demonstrating the limitations of temporary particle-ness and is capable of expressing the spectrum-plasma-wave-flight of enlightened freed awareness-Mind.

“Blindness as seeing without seeing a thing” is literal. It is to perceive no thingness, thus no thing as separate nor separate from anything else. Furthermore, it is to be blinded by the “seeing without seeing a thing,” which is to say blinded by the self-luster, the dynamism, and always present interconnectedness that IS. It is to experience form as empty of the factors that we ascribe to it, determine our relations by, and by which we limit ourselves, others, and all of our lives. This blindness, then, is waking up.

Similarly with the other statements. Deafness as hearing such that the sound of a car driving by and the song of the cardinal are equal to our ear. This, of course, raises all kinds of considerations about beauty, quietude, combustion engines, pollution, interconnectedness, harmony, and more. The philosophy of Buddhism begins with the Four Noble Truths which are four statements acknowledging that all existence shares in the qualities of discontent, disease, and suffering and that because all do, then the wise and kind thing is to do something about that. But the philosophy of Buddhism is an upstream philosophy which means that it works with cause whenever possible instead of ameliorating effects. Thus the Buddha gave the Eightfold Path which are eight general statements of orientation by which a human being can live his or her life. They are general, for example: right speech, right effort, right livelihood. No one is telling you what “right” is in any instance, instead the individual is to cultivate the idea of interconnectedness and interdependence such that the word or silence, the exertion of time and energy, or the occupation one engages always has the whole of which one is a part foremost in heart-mind. So then back to the cardinal song and the car engine noise: from the point of view of interconnectedness and interdependence, the car engine burdens the interconnectedness of life in every way. The bird song does not.

The teachings of Emptiness, or Mahamudra, the tantras, or of Dzogchen invite awareness. What each person does with one’s incremental awakening will be his or her choice.  Wallet-activism is an excellent expression of awareness choices, for example. Tilopa is trying to shake Naropa out of his mind! I guess I’m rattling the cage a little too.

I’ll leave you to contemplate muteness/speaking, lameness/hurry, but will offer thought on Death and Originatedness. Each of the previous statements are calling attention to the obvious, this one is too. Death is immobile–it’s not going anywhere. Death is part of life, inescapable, and comes to everyone and everything equally. The wise, then, do not cling to this life because that would be futile, nor do they long to stay in this life because it is a temporary form: a particle existence in the wave of consciousness. Instead, we are encouraged to cultivate fearlessness about death knowing that it is release and is inevitable, and, instead, to be like the leaf in Autumn gracefully completing its seasonal life. Like the leaf, we’ll be back again and won’t miss much!

Unoriginated is a word attempting the impossible: to offer mental meaning to something beyond mentality. For our use, this tantric statement is asking us to be a snowflake melting.

golden buddha image: The Kundalini Experience by Jala iLama

Join me Thursday, September 27 for an online lecture presentation: Caduceus becomes the Circle. Register at Spirit Fire. Also free online meditation training in The Practice of Living Awareness is open to new participants. We begin again on Monday, October 1. Contact me at or see the Spirit Fire site.

About Donna Mitchell-Moniak

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