THe path of joy and ease
Five year practice program
PROGRAM philosophy and approach
The formal five-year practice program at Pristine Awareness is focused on recognizing and abiding in the natural state, which is spacious awareness alive with Bodhichitta. The program follows the "pith instruction" tradition or style of practice, which focuses on simplicity, adaptability and embedding practice in daily life. We are particularly inspired by the following pith instruction from Kyabje Togden Amtrin:
Arouse joy and rest in its natural radiance!
Not only is this the heart of the path,
but indeed it is the heart of Awakening.
The destination for all those practicing in the Nyingma tradition is Dzogchen. The Vajrayana vehicle consisting of ngondro followed by generation and completion practices (dzogrim & kyerim) prepares the practitioner for Dozgchen. This program has the same aim though does not follow the same trajectory. The program abides by the following key instruction handed down by MahaGuru Garab Dorje (665 CE):
Do not practice in the worldly way by meditating on the form of a deity as the activity of the body, by reciting mantras and formulae as the activity of the voice, or by visualizing and concentrating as the activity of the mind.
In this spirit, this program does not foreground visualization, deity practices, mantra recitation or "accumulation" styles of practice. This program is also based on the profound concept of natural unfolding – that by engaging in simple, essential practices all the realizations of the “higher” teachings such as Mahamudra and Dzogchen evolve naturally and effortlessly. These simple practices include Shamatha, Vipashana and, importantly, The Path of Joy and Ease, a practice that is unique to the Pristine Awareness sangha. This program is the condensed essence of the Dharma and is a parallel path to that of Dzogchen, leading to the same result, the self-perfected natural state. The program has two streams:
- Devotion Stream – for those drawn to devotion and Guru Yoga
- Meditation Stream – for those drawn to the practice of joy, love and compassion
To cover the costs of providing this program there is a suggested contribution of $10AUD per month. That being said, no-one will be turned away due to lack of funds and donations of any size are welcome.
Our program is inspired by the heart teachings and pith instructions of our teacers - Kyabje Togden Amtrin and Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche, Jigdral Yeshe Dorje. The program has a strong focus on simplicity, relaxation (ease) and joy. Joy is an incredibly important aspect of all Buddhist practice. It is one of the Four Immeasurables, the characteristics of the enlightened mind. Joy is also one of the qualities of mind that, when cultivated in a balanced way, lead to total enlightenment. Whether we are beginners or more advanced, it is impossible to accomplish any of our Dharma practices without it. Quite simply, without joy there is no Enlightenment. Joy is the fuel, the nourishment, which helps our practice grow strong and stable. If we imagine our practice to be like a seedling, joy is the water that helps the seedling to grow. Without joy, the seedling will wither and die.
The Path of Joy and Ease offers an approach that opens ones heart to the world. It is a path that continually asks us to open outwards to every being and experience that we encounter. The common thread with each of the practices in The Path of Joy and Ease is that they start from within ourselves rather than from outside of ourselves. They ask us to recognize and rest in the innate pristine nature that already exists within our own hearts, and open outwards into the world. In order to awaken, we must develop deep confidence in the fact that our true nature, our Buddha nature, is already perfected within us and is not to be found outside of ourselves.
- In level one we cultivate profound joy and engage in the practice of calm abiding.
- In level two we cultivate boundless love and engage in the practice of insight meditation.
- In level three we cultivate compassion and awareness of the true nature of mind through the practice of cutting through illusion to the truth.
- In level four we cultivate evenness (equanimity) and learn to abide in pure awareness at all times through the teachings on the self-liberating nature of all.
Kyabje Togden Amtrin
How We Are Unique
In the Path of Joy and Ease we do not mentally create or produce a fabricated mind state based on complex visualizations and mantras as these tend to reinforce dualistic reality. Instead, we expand outwards from within in a completely simple and non-dualistic way. This path completely by-passes the intellectual dualistic mind and liberates us from within, through opening the heart from the very beginning. It is a path of felt experience grounded in joy, love and Bodhicitta.
The paths of deity yoga, mind training and so forth are about constant activity and effort. Creating, generating and recalling concepts and forms continuously. The Path of Joy and Ease is the opposite of this. With this Joy and Ease program we are offering a path of limitless rest. A path with a minimum of intellectual and conceptual striving and effort; of abiding in our true nature, our Buddha nature, which does not need to be created, produced or generated. We are simply allowing our innate fundamental goodness to shine forth through joy, love and devotion to that pristine nature. We are offering a path that lays down the burden of constant mental and intellectual activity and allows us to rest in our heart's natural radiance. Ultimately rest.
All that being said, formal meditation practice and a solid understanding of the fundamental contemplations (such as The Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind to Dharma) are required, but this is with the purpose of understanding the nature of mind, not of becoming scholars or teachers. Through this path we will experience the fruits of the path right from the very beginning, rather than simply learning about them through books and study. This is truly a path of joy and ease.
Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche
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