Questioner: I have an internal conflict when I do sitting practice. On one hand I find the Dzogchen approach appealing, and that’s where my interest lies. I think I understand it conceptually and have like a crack through the door. On the other hand, what feels most natural for me to do is kind of a Hinayana mindfulness practice – that feels like I am doing what I am, really. So, on one hand I can be mindful; on the other hand I want self-liberating awareness and am looking for that.
Rinpoche: I would say that there is not a problem there. One side of this is inspiration. I think that often that is how higher teachings are given – one receives higher teachings and they are inspiring. One can say, ‘Right, that can inspire my practice of mindfulness; because maybe mindfulness is where I am, what I relate to’. There does not have to be a problem between the two. One can be the inspirational quality, and the other can be the practical thing that I am doing. They do not have to contradict each other. The inspirational quality can sometimes liberate the nature of the mindfulness that is maybe tight; and one can gain experiences through that. Through the practice of mindfulness one’s knowledge of Dzogchen teaching and the transmission that one has received comes through; and maybe that mindfulness becomes self-liberated for a moment. So the two even communicate with each other.
Q: I understand what you are saying, but it still leaves me with a dilemma when I am actually sitting there – to even entertain the notion of non-dual recognition becomes a mental thought that distracts me from being mindful.
R: Then you let go of that.
Q: Right. Then I just go back to being mindful. That is just a thought and…
R: You do not even go back to being mindful; you just let go. Whatever it is, whatever arises, you let go. You can just keep letting go. You find yourself attached to it again, it arises, you let it go. The whole teaching around shi-nè is pretty blunt and simplistic – it is just let go. Whatever it is, whatever the problem is, I let go.
Q: I even let go of being mindful?
R: Sure. If that becomes a concept – right, I let go. That is why I say you do not go back to mindfulness. You do not have to say, ‘I am going back to mindfulness now’. You just let go. That is the best thing you can ever do – just keep letting go.