Venerable DzigarKongtrul Rinpoche
Nyingma SummerSeminar, Talk 16
July 21, 2013
Puntsok Choling,Ward, Colorado
Good morning toyou all. As Elizabeth said, this is the “grand finale” of nine days of the NyingmaSummer Seminar. This morning, I want to simply thank everybody for yourenthusiasm toward the study and practice of the Dharma and also for coming fromall over the world. We have people here from Japan, Holland, Australia, Canada,Finland, Italy, Belgium, Denmark, France, and from the great country of theUnited States of America. It’s really the Dharma that brings you here, not me,or anything else. I welcome you and really appreciate your interest in the Dharmaand your pursuit of meaning through the practice of the Dharma.
Since we are stillin the Vajrayana section, I thought I would speak a little about the notion ofcrazy wisdom—woo! The notion of crazy wisdom is really dancing, just like wedid last night. This is in the Guhasamaja or Guhyagarbha, or anyof the tantras that you read—the so-called tülshuk kyi chöpa. First ofall, there is the view, the meditation, and the conduct. Crazy wisdom is morein relation to the conduct. And in the conduct, the name for crazy wisdom—thoughI don’t know where this term came from—is probably tülshuk kyi chöpa, which meansdancing.
Of course, there aremany kinds of dancing, including waltzing and other popular types of dancing thatare organized all over the world. But rock-and-roll dancing, or the dancingthat people do now, is more or less just free-style dancing, which at best is spontaneouslymoving your body without any inhibitions, restraint, or self-consciousness. Whenwe are able to dance in that way, there’s a sense that we enjoy dancing morebecause of the freedom we feel as we dance. It’s also a way to express thenature in the moment, which enhances the bliss that is in the nature throughthe movements of dance. By not being caught in restraint, self-consciousness,or by forms and the organization of forms—no good or bad, just what it is—suchdancing is more or less just to express oneself, on-the-spot, with a sense ofjoy in one’s movements.
Of course, as ayogin, there is the physical movement of the body, the movement in the mind,and the movement of the energy of the mind and body flowing in one’s ownchannels, in one’s life, and in the moment. The dancer might be a yogin. Therecould be a yogin who is also a dancer, or there could be a yogin who is not adancer. There could be a dancer but not a yogin, and then there could be someonewho is not a dancer or a yogin. With these, we could understand the fourcategories, or mu zhi. In this case,we are talking about someone who is a yogin as well as a dancer.
Many lama dances arevery organized and have great rhythm, and a lot of training goes into performingthem. But they’re probably not crazy wisdom because tülshuk kyi chöpa has no rhythmor organization and no sense of good or bad. A trained ballerina has a strongsense of discipline and is able to move through that discipline with the gracethat such discipline provides. Then the discipline becomes theballerina, and the ballerina becomes the discipline. The grace, which was notnatural, becomes natural. Of course, no one is born with the skills of a balletdancer; it takes many years of rigorous training to achieve that discipline.
But in the case offree-form rock-and-roll dancing, the grace has to come from not beingself-conscious, not being caught up in ideas of good and bad or in theorganization of one’s body and mind, and not being caught up in the precisionof executing what one wants to look like in the eyes of others. It’s just a freeexpression of oneself in the moment of one’s own awareness, embodying movementand expression. Of course, there’s an element of joy and bliss that isenhanced. Perhaps we can see why more people are doing rock-and-roll dancing inthe world than more disciplined dancing.
When you watchothers perform more disciplined dancing, you can admire them, like seeingreally great dancers at the opera. Or in Paris, at the Moulin Rouge, you can reallyadmire how dancers can imitate a swan. I never knew swans were so gracefuluntil I saw dancers imitate them, and from that perspective, I came to have agreater appreciation for the gracefulness of swans! You can tremendouslyappreciate those dancers’ movements, but they’re not being spontaneouslypresent. You would definitely see yourself as separate from them and incapableof moving as they do. And even if you were capable, you would think, “Oh! To dothat, first I would need to be young and very fit, and I’d need to train for manyyears.” So, most of the time in this kind of case, it will be a one-way street:viewing and admiring.
But in the case offree-style dancing, one can express oneself freely without any hindrances,without any self-consciousness or restrictions, without ideas of good and bad,without organization, without forms—just moving, like a child. For example,when you leave a child in a crib, the child moves with two hands and two feet,with tremendous joy and a sparkle in their eyes. Tülshuk kyi chöpa or crazywisdom should be something like this.
Taking tülshuk kyichöpa in that way has its own place, similar to the way dancing has its ownplace. You might dance in your living room, on a dance floor, or in any otherappropriate situation when music and other conditions come together, and yourintention is to express yourself by dancing. But if you try dancing in a trainstation in New York or someplace like that, then it might not be appropriate orhelpful. Instead of being seen as sanely expressing yourself, you mightactually be taken to be insane. Though the yogin, tülshuk kyi chöpa or not, maynot care what others think and simply wants to dance, unless the yogin hascompletely transcended all forms of concepts, all forms of barriers, all forms withno hindrance or self-consciousness at any level, whether living in a society ornot, then the yogin forcing the dancing in that way might be artificial. Itwould not necessarily be a great practice.
In a way, tülshukkyi chöpa is an abstract expression, with the body, speech, and mind just beingin the moment, which enhances the freedom, bliss, joy, and sense of naturalnessall together at once as one, whole, yogin’s expression. Of course, if there isintrinsic awareness, it makes everything much different and more of a genuine gar,which means graceful movements. Even if one’s entire expression is notcompletely based on non-conceptual intrinsic awareness, nonetheless, if thereis a sense of being free and unrestrained, unself-conscious—and if any level ofwakefulness and awareness is there—I think it could be a great enhancement ofthe practice itself.
There are manydifferent levels of tülshuk kyi chöpa. There is the tülshuk kyi chöpa thatSaraha, the great arrowmaker, conducted on the banks of the Ganges, and also thatGuru Padmasambhava conducted in different sacred places of India and Tibet. Also,there is the tülshuk kyi chöpa that many other great mahasiddhas conducted,such as Tilopa and Naropa and all the great repas of the Kagyu tradition, fromMilarepa onward. Someone like Do Khyentse Yeshe Dorje, a great reincarnation ofJigme Lingpa himself, conducted himself in ways that are beyond our abilities—atleast beyond my own ability now. Sepa so nowa, being able to revivesomeone who was killed, is beyond my ability. Causing the Ganges to flow upwardis also beyond my ability, as are many of the siddhas’ great miracle powersthey exhibited.
Nevertheless, the phenomenalworld is seen not to be outside of one’s mind but is held as an expression ofone’s mind, and thus one’s own realization is able to overpower phenomenarather than phenomena overpowering one’s own mind. One lives in the freedom ofone’s own mind rather than being restricted by phenomena and not being able tosee that freedom. These are the kinds of things to transcend in the wholeprocess of the view of crazy wisdom, or tülshuk kyi chöpa. Therefore, tülshukkyi chöpa is not to be taken out of context, without the view, or without somepurpose of enhancing one’s whole path of the Vajrayana.
It’s All aboutGoing beyond Duality
With this contextand the view, and with the path in mind, though we cannot actually have or do thetülshuk kyi chöpa—like sepa so nowa, the dead revived by your power, and tryingto emulate the great masters of the past, like Padmasambhava, Naropa, or Tilopa—nonetheless,there’s a place for tülshuk kyi chöpa in all of our lives. Perhaps dancing is theappropriate tülshuk kyi chöpa for us. I would like to encourage everybody todance, if one feels inspired to have a bit of crazy wisdom. Do the free-formdancing that is just being in the moment and enjoying it, seizing the momentwith no self-consciousness or concepts of good or bad, and simply expressingand enhancing the joy of free expression. In this way, I think that whatevermeditation we do—whether it’s the upayakarma or sampanakarma, the generation,or the accomplishment practice of the Vajrayana—can be a benefit. It can make oneselfbecome a little looser, more relaxed, and better able to go beyond duality. Inthe Vajrayana, it’s all about going beyond duality.
There’s a story oftwo Zen priests who were traveling together. They came to a river crossing wherea beautiful woman in a kimono stood perplexed and distressed, wondering how shewould be able to cross the river. One Zen monk, a novice, said, “I’ll helpyou!” He just picked her up, took her to the other side, set her down, and thenmoved on. The other priest couldn’t believe what his friend had done, and for acouple of hours, he kept thinking about how inappropriate it was. Finally, hesaid to his friend, “I can’t believe you just picked up that lady and took herto the shore. That’s not how our vows are supposed to be. Our vows suggest thatwe shouldn't touch ladies.”
Then his friend replied,“Are you still carrying her? I left her a long time ago!”
With thisattitude, crazy wisdom or tülshuk kyi chöpa has a great benefit for all of us anda place in all of us. This might not correspond with what you’ve read aboutcrazy wisdom, what attracted you to it, or even what you’d like to emulate. Ifso, I apologize, because there are many things written on the subject of tülshukkyi chöpa or crazy wisdom, and a lot of people really get into it and want to manifestthemselves in that way—or at least they have a secret wish that they couldmanifest like that. Many times, instead of being a practice, I think it can leadto inappropriate actions and become destructive. But by introducing tülshuk kyichöpa as dancing, I don't think it will become self-destructive or outrageouslyout of order in any way, especially here in the West.
Now, if somebodydanced like we did last night in India or Tibet—though it may be differentthese days because of modernization, but in the old days, in the Tibetan or othertraditional culture—people would think you had gone crazy. In the old days,they would have considered such dancing and shaking the head and differentparts of the body to be totally bizarre and inappropriate. But now, becausedisco has become so popular, everywhere you go in Asia or in the western world,this kind of dancing with music isn’t seen as inappropriate or dangerous in anyway.
Dancing and ArtEnhance the View
If you want tohave crazy wisdom and tülshuk kyi chöpa as part of your path, I also suggestthat you use art as another form to express yourself freely—particularly abstractart—to enhance your meditation practice or the view and to not be so strained. Theview definitely needs conduct, and for that, there is also general meditation.The general conduct that we know and are introduced to is the discipline of theconduct of the Hinayana and the Mahayana. But in the Vajrayana, I think themost appropriate conduct is, from time to time, dancing itself. In theVajrayana, I cannot see any more appropriate conduct to enhance the view thandancing.
So, I very much appreciatethat we had the chance to dance last night. Even in the tsoks, it is said thatdancing is the most appropriate offering and enjoyment. So, with the permissionof the vajra master—not out of context—to assume dancing in the ganachakra timeis the greatest aspect of the ganachakra, as stated in the Guhyusamaja tantra.I saw many great dancers last night, so I was inspired this morning toencourage people—old and young—to dance with some sense of tülshuk kyi chöpa orcrazy wisdom.
If I translate tülshukkyi chöpa as crazy wisdom, it’s not “crazy” in the sense that we usuallyunderstand the term, as insane. That would be inappropriate andself-destructive to one’s own and others’ well-being. That would be crazy, andfrom that point of view, if it is crazy, it wouldn’t be wisdom; it would just becrazy. As I understand it, in this case, crazy must be understood tomean “nonconceptual, free of ideas of good and bad, free of restraint, free ofbeing bound by one’s own self-consciousness, free from being caught up in one’sthoughts rather than being present in the moment.” It would be crazy only in a certaincontext, but not crazy in this way of looking. For example, it would becrazy only in the context of, let’s say, you’re in a lama dance, and then you startrock-and-rolling. In that context, it would be strange, and one might wonderwhether you’re crazy because you’re free-style dancing during lama dancing. Inthat case, one might think there is something wrong with this person, andoftentimes there is something wrongwith that person.
From theconceptual point of view, we are restrained most of the time and unable toexpress ourselves freely—because of ideas of good and bad, being self-consciousand bound to that self-consciousness, feeling quite shy, inhibited, inwardly-turned,and awkward. Since this behavior is the norm of the culture and the generalsense of how human behavior is supposed to be carried out, I’m not suggestingit’s not good. It’s good. This is how human society forms order.
From that point ofview, it might seem crazy to be non-conceptual and to express yourself freelyin the moment, unrestrained by ideas of good and bad, not bound by self-consciousness.Being withdrawn and feeling awkward, giving this up as a practice—simply beingin the moment, seizing the moment, enjoying and expressing yourself, and justbeing loose—might seem crazy, especially in certain contexts, but it’s not. Ithas wisdom, which is to enhance the non-conceptual view. The wisdom here is whenthe conduct and the view become one, rather than separate. The wisdom is inenhancing the bliss and the sense of freedom that are there with the view. Onecan enhance the sense of free expression that doesn’t choke the view’s freedom orthe bliss that needs to naturally flow. In that way, wisdom is eminent.
Tülshuk kyi chöpa orcrazy wisdom has a very appropriate place in all of us in doing things. In ourown sacred world and the secret mandala that we create, it’s very appropriateto engage in crazy wisdom. But for someone who doesn’t know what that might be,maybe a little dancing is what I’m encouraging—in one’s living room or kitchen,not in Penn Station or in the mall. And from time to time, dance at asocial gathering like this, which could be a good container for this assemblyto experience a little crazy wisdom. But if dancing were mixed with drinking alcohol,it’s not certain what it might become. Jennifer and I talked about howwonderful the dancing was yesterday because it wasn’t mixed with alcohol—therewas awareness in the movements, and everybody was awake instead of being underthe influence of alcohol. If mixed in with alcohol, it could also be fine, butthere would be the question of whether one was dancing with the view or justfeeling high and doing it from the influence of alcohol. So please, dance on!
We have gone overthe ground, path, and fruition. This particular aspect is called the pongdün, which enhances the ground, path, and fruition—particularly the pathaspect, to bring it to fruition. In the path, there is the view, meditation,and conduct. And then the pong dün is separate and enhances the view,meditation, and conduct. So pong dün here means—if you’re an artist, it may beart; if you’re a musician, it may be music. And if you’re not an artist ormusician, maybe a little dancing would be helpful.