Light & Awareness: The Five Wisdoms
The term “wisdom” has a particular meaning within the Dzogchen tradition: It refers to recognizing the natural state, our true nature. Wisdom is the recognition of awareness and self. In essence, there’s only one wisdom but in manifestation, wisdom can arise in innumerable ways.
What we call the “enlightened body” is what naturally arises when awareness unites with light.
When we realize the unbounded openness and pure awareness of our natural mind, this recognition manifests in the form of five wisdom qualities:
- wisdom of emptiness
- mirror-like wisdom
- wisdom of equanimity
- discriminating wisdom
- all-accomplishing wisdom
These wisdoms are actually different aspects of wisdom, different aspects of the union of awareness and light, what happens when awareness meets the light. If the opposite happens and ignorance meets our pain identity (what we identify with), then the pain body and our negative perception of ourselves manifest. So, the only thing we need to do is to actually realize our true nature, our true Self, and to awaken. The first step involves getting to know ourselves.
This process of getting to know ourselves is five-fold. The first and most important aspect involves the wisdom of emptiness. What it means is we first need to recognize what we are not, i.e. recognize our wrong perception of ourselves. Once we truly realize who we really are, all these wrong perceptions dissolve. The emptiness aspect of the wisdom here refers to being empty of these wrong perceptions, free of all false identifications.
On a practical level, we need to gradually become aware of the different layers and aspects of our identity, of what we believe we are, what we identify with. We need to become aware all the behaviors arising from this identification, all the energy we waste and all the challenges we face because of that.
Rinpoche used the following excerpt from a teaching on the 21 Nails from the Zhang Zhung Nyengyü tradition to support and guide us through our meditation practice in relation to this aspect:
“Self-originated Wisdom — the base
Five poisonous emotions — expressive energy
Following these — delusion
Flawed view — deviation
Releasing into its natural condition — the method
Liberating into expansiveness — the path”
(Excerpt from the 15th Nail)
In our meditation practice, from a space of inner refuge, we connect with the tranquility of our body (as a door to the tranquility of our being), to the silence of the speech (the energy of silence) and to the spaciousness of our heart-mind. From this sacred inner space, we let the awareness welcome, embrace and host our different layers of identifications and our wrong (and often negative) perceptions of ourselves with kindness. From that space, with awareness, we realize our habitual perception of ourselves is not what we are and we let it dissolve in the vastness.
The second aspect of wisdom, after the wisdom of emptiness, is the mirror-like wisdom. It helps us recognize with deep clarity how much we invested in our beliefs, in our projections and how much effort we’ve been engaging all our life based on these perceptions and beliefs. We begin to see the consequences they’ve been having on our daily lives and how much exhaustion it has caused us.
Rinpoche uses another excerpt from the 15th Nail to illustrate this second aspect and guide our meditation practice:
“In order to cut karmic traces in the künzhi completely,
release the knot of attachment, cut the rope of grasping.”
When we practice with this mirror-like wisdom, we first rest in inner refuge and from there we observe our lives and particularly learn to recognize our false perceptions and the exhausting and useless efforts we’ve been making based on these. As we keep resting more and more deeply in awareness, all gets liberated until there isn’t anyone even trying to rest anymore. We let the light emerge until we feel the Body of Light (the union of awareness and light) in the awareness of the stillness, the Speech of Light in the silence of the speech and the pure warmth in the space of the heart-mind. We can then feel the emergence of something new, something more spacious, something warmer, which allows us to welcome, host and heal our deep pain identities.
Our potential resides in what we are and not what we are trying to be.
We need to keep practicing like this, taking time to recognize and allowing ourselves to rest deeply in the source, in the self-arising wisdom. Once we have rested deeply enough, we look at ourselves with profound openness, clarity and warm and naturally feel compassion for ourselves. That allows a new body, speech and mind to arise from this self-arising wisdom. It’s the beginning of a new life free from our old habits.
Resting is really what allows us to connect to the base and this connection is the most important. Resting is the method but it’s not the main point. Resting allows us to connect with the self-arising wisdom. It allows us to connect to your true self. And all transformations or liberations come from this connection because then we are connected to the source of powers and qualities.
In May 2020, Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche will resume teachings and guiding practice on the five wisdoms, particularly on the aspects of wisdom he hasn’t explored extensively in May 2019.