Dzogchen: the natural state. Bilbao Retreat, 2009

James Low
Bilbao Retreat
18-19 April 2009
Transcribed by Jo Féat
Edited by Barbara Terris

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…There is a story from the early Kadampa school where one monk went to his teacher and said, ‘My mind is always full of bad thoughts. What can I do?’ His teacher said, ‘You have to collect a hundred white stones and a hundred black stones. When you sit in the practice, every time you have a bad thought you put a black stone in front of you, and when you have a good thought you put a white stone in front of you.’

At the beginning he only collected black stones, but he kept going and gradually he collected more and more white stones, so that eventually he only had white stones. He went to his teacher and he said, ‘Now I only have white stones.’ And the teacher said, ‘Now go back and keep practicing until you have no stones at all.’…

…One of the functions of buddhist understanding and practice is to start to see the cocoon of assumptions within which we live. The more we understand the nature of the cocoon, the more we free ourselves from it, and in that way we go from being a little grub to being a lovely butterfly. Beautiful!…

…If we use the metaphor that our world was like a piece of sculpture,  then each of these nine yanas or views would be like a light shining on to that sculpture; when you look down the line of that light the sculpture shows a particular aspect. You can walk around the sculpture looking from these nine different viewpoints, and each view is just what you get from that position. One view is not better or worse than any other view and each reveals something about ourselves…

…Thoughts are like politicians. Politicians always say, ‘Trust me. I speak the truth. I will work for your benefit.’ Watch out for these inner politicians! Simply observe how thoughts arise and pass. Just as politicians say so many sweet things before an election and then afterwards they don’t do very much, these thoughts seem very attractive when they are arising, but then they are gone…

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