Dzogchen Ponlop

‘Because we are making this journey to discover who and what we are, we have to start where we are. On the Buddhist path, starting where we are involves a certain degree of courage and fearlessness. It takes fearlessness to look in the mirror and see one’s own face. We might have to look in the mirror in the early morning when we first get up, before we have taken a shower; or we might have to look at ourselves after an accident. Nevertheless, we have to cut through any fear of looking at that reality. Whatever is reflected in the mirror, whatever is reflected in our experience, we can be courageous enough to explore that reality further, accept it, and start the journey from that very spot. In Buddhism, that is the beginning. We cut through all our conceptualizations, expectations, projections, and fantasies, such as, “Oh, if I were that person, I could do much better on the path.” This is not a healthy way to begin the journey. The main requirement is to be who we are and start where we are. That is the simplest way to begin our journey, and it is the most direct way to discover our mind and its nature.’ (Wild Awakening)

This is a book I picked up at a Zen Center book sale a year or two ago; I thought it would be helpful since I know very little about Tibetan Buddhism, and I am frequently asked how different styles compare. From the opening pages, much of what is written, especially about Mahamudra, resonates with my experience of practising in the zen style. There are, as I have thought before, more clear instructions about the path and its stages – and ultimately the letting go of stages – the lack of which can cause difficulties in our school. In the end, everything is pointing at the same thing.

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