Flight of the Garuda

August 5, 2018

Passages I noted from Keith Dowman’s translation of the book.

“Thinking of the key confirms the prison.”

“What grief lies in distinguishing effort from attainment!”


“The arid assertions and metaphors of others — statements such as “Mind is emptiness!” — are worse than useless. Until you know the answer yourself, such statements tend to bring doubt and hesitation to the mind…”

“Until we recognize vision as presence — and only that — in whatever way we try to cultivate the mind through meditation practice we will be confined to a contrived view and to meditation structured by the intellect.”

“Now, although the original face of mind has been revealed, and we are convinced that buddhahood is the primal awareness of pure being, if we lack confidence in the process of release, the mere meditation of a resting, quiescent mind will confine us to a subtly deviant existence in the higher realms of the gods. Such meditation cannot dominate the exigencies of lust and anger; it cannot stop the flow of karmically conditioned impulses; and it cannot turn our conviction into confidence. Thus the process of release is all-important.”


“Appearances, on the other hand, do not obstruct or fill emptiness: although they are manifest, their nature is originally empty.”


If we invest our confidence in the mere concentrated absorption of a quiescent mind, a meditation technique that lacks the dynamic of release, we stray into high trance states. Our belief in the sufficiency of recognizing quiescence and movement as such is not different from ordinary confused thinking, and although our minds are impregnated with intellectual concepts like emptiness and pure being, when we are confronted by adverse circumstances, the inadequacy of our remedy is exposed and our innate capability is found wanting. So, “Without this vital process of release, meditation is delusion.”

Instead of rejecting emotions, consider what they are awareness of. Discover first where they come from, then where it is now, and finally where it goes.


“Look at the form of a beautiful statue or a great painting and observe the mind that thinks How beautiful! Look at the form of a hideous frog and observe the mind that thinks How repulsive! When looking at the mind, emptiness is the one taste in both perceptions.”


“The greater the passion and the greater intensity of discursive thought the greater the dharmakaya.”


“When we have established that all experience is the one taste of emptiness, we have no attachment or aversion to samsara or nirvana. The error of apprehending external entities either as aliens or allies, as enemies or friends, is precluded. No “self and other” dichotomy arises in any situation: all things are known as the one taste of emptiness.”


“No matter how large or violent the rolling wave, it cannot escape the ocean for a moment. In the same way, mind, passive or active, cannot escape total presence and emptiness to the slightest degree.”


“After you have fully intuited and established the original existential condition of the Dzogchen vision, you must utterly sever the ties of attachment and aversion to your family and homeland.

Go alone to the forest or to a mountain hermitage. Abandon all physical work and dwell at ease; cease all verbal expression and remain in silence; transcend all objects of thought and let your mind merge with space. In this state, relax, without attempting to change anything, and without diffusion or fixation of your consciousness.

When the mind is free of all ambition and all belief supports, that is Dzogchen vision. Abide in a state of nonmeditation. Realize Dzogchen’s goal of nonattainment.

Furthermore, when you are composed in equanimity, living the vision, do not become entangled in any web of judgemental thought by saying to yourself Now I’ve arrived at a state of total presence! or Now I’m caught in manic depression! No, stay wakeful in the continuum of reality without any notion of present or future attainment, flexible and responsive in unobstructed freedom.

You cannot perceive nonconceptual truth with your structured intellect, and you cannot reach the place of nonaction through temporal activity. If you want to attain the nonceptual goal of nonaction, rest in naked total presence free of dualistic grasping.”

Looking for it, the vision cannot be seen: cease your search. It cannot be discovered through meditation, so abandon your trance states and mental images. It cannot be accomplished by anything you do, so give up the attempt to treat the world as a magical illusion. It cannot be found by seeking, so abandon all hope of results.”


“The matrix of vision is observation of emptiness and radiance without clinging to it. The matrix of meditation is maintenance of reflexive release without clinging to it. The matrix of action is relaxation with a free and easy response to the six sense fields. The matrix of the goal is collapse of all expectations and apprehension.”


“When we are free of all inhibition and indulgence, we perform sovereign activity. When mind is free of hope and fear, we have attained the sovereign goal.”

“As there is nothing to see, abandon all fixed ideas, all preconceived notions, and all parameters of vision. As there is nothing upon which to meditate, let be whatever arises adventitiously. As there is no particular way to behave, give up evaluation, judgement, and criticism. As there is nothing to attain, forsake all expectation of results.”


Its essence is emptiness, so abandon self-denial and self-improvement.”


“The yogin’s perception is like the flight path of a bird in the sky. The bird’s flight path vanishes without trace: each previous perception vanishes without repercussion –– do not attempt to prolong a perception by pursuing it and clinging to it. The bird’s future flight path is as yet nonexistent: do not anticipate the next perception. The present bird print in the sky is colorless and shapeless: the present perception has an ordinary, unremarkable form –– leave it alone and refrain from contaminating it or modifying it by applying antidotes.

Just as phenomena arise let them be and do not cling!”


“Conduct is a performance of magical illusion, innocent of any distinction between giving and taking, abstinence and indulgence, for intense activity is purposeless.”


“Do not dress up total presence, which is naked clarity itself, in the clothes of elaborate intellectual analysis.”


This nonaction may be crucial, but it is not understood by some. Everything is already done, but they say, “I must work hard!” Everything has been liberated from the beginning, but they say, “I want to be free!” Everything is at rest from the beginning, but they say, “I want peace of mind!” The mind is in meditation from the beginning, but they say, “I must meditate!” The vision exists from the beginning, but they say, “I must see it!” The goal is attained from the first, but they say, “I must reach it!”

People who trust in an analytical view are learned, but they know only the taste of dead words and divisive concepts. They claim understanding, but it is an idle boast. They meditate, but their meditation consists of mental structures. They examine the mind, but cling to duality. They are successful, but it is all in samsara.

It is certain that the intellectual with an analytical view of reality has no connection with the Heart Essence of the Great Perfection, the Dzogchen Nyingtig.


“However,” you may ask, “although at first I may rest free and easy when perceiving external, delusive objects of mind, later will I not again regress into bewilderment?”

The answer to your question is that ordinary individuals attached to their ego will certainly go astray. But as for the yogin who understands all appearances as causeless and baseless and who refrains from attempting to change himself or phenomena, rejecting some things and cultivating others, he will not err because he is naturally composed in detached equanimity.