The Essence of Wisdom | An Excerpt from Beyond the Ordinary Mind

The Essence of Wisdom:

How to Sustain the Face of Rigpa

by Jamgön Mipham
Jamgon Mipham

To the glorious primordial protector, I pay homage!

There are three stages to sustaining the essence of rigpa: (1) recognition, (2) perfecting the strength, and (3) gaining stability.

At first, refine your understanding until, through the guru’s instructions, you come to see the actual face of rigpa, nakedly and without intellectual speculation. Once you arrive at certainty, it is crucially important that you sustain rigpa’s essence by yourself. Mere recognition is insufficient; you must develop its strength. Moreover, although you might recognize rigpa at first, unless you settle in that recognition, it will soon be interrupted by thoughts, making it difficult to experience naked, unadulterated rigpa. So, at this stage, it is crucial that you settle, without suppressing or indulging thoughts, and rest repeatedly, for periods of increasing duration, in an experience of uncontrived, pure awareness. Once you have familiarized yourself with this again and again, the waves of thought will weaken and the face of rigpa you are sustaining will grow clearer. During meditation, remain in this experience for as long as you can. And in postmeditation, maintain the mindfulness of recalling the face of rigpa.

If you can familiarize yourself with this, the strength of rigpa will increase. Thoughts will continue to arise at first, but, even without your having to resort to any other remedy, they will be freed by themselves in an instant if you simply leave them as they are—just as a snake uncoils its own knots by itself. Then, with increased familiarity, rising thoughts will bring only a slight initial disturbance but will then dissolve immediately by themselves, like writing on water. As you become still more familiar with this state, you will reach a point where rising thoughts no longer have any effect at all, and you will feel neither hopeful nor anxious about their arising or nonarising. This experience of being beyond benefit and harm is likened to a thief entering an empty house.

By continuing to familiarize yourself with this practice, you will eventually reach the level of perfect strength, when thoughts and the ālaya, together with any tendency to produce movement in the mind, all dissolve into unaltered dharmakāya, and awareness is secure in its own place. Just as you might search for ordinary earth and stones on an island of gold, never to find any, at this point the whole of appearance and existence, without exception, arises as a dharmakāya realm, wherein purity is all-encompassing. This is known as gaining stability; it is the stage at which hopes and anxieties about saṃsāra and nirvāṇa or birth and death are eradicated entirely.

Just as, in this way, daytime perceptions and thoughts are gradually brought into rigpa’s domain, during the nighttime too there is no need to rely on any other instruction, as this can be applied to dreams and the recognition of the clear light during both light and heavy sleep. Having understood this, persist in the practice until you gain stability, with unflagging diligence like the continuous flow of a river.

This instruction was given by Mipham. May virtue and goodness abound!