Start where you’ll finish. Public Talk, Szczecin, 2009

James Low
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Drzewo Życia Centre, Szczecin, Poland
6th May 2009

Translated and transcribed by Bartek Czajkowski
Edited by Sarah Allen and James Low

… Dzogchen begins exactly where we are and doesn’t suggest that we should go somewhere else or do anything different. Rather we are invited to rest in a relaxed presence open to each moment just as it is. The source or ground or basis of this moment is the same as the basis of the next moment, and the next moment, and the next moment….
…Texts on dzogchen often say: “If you go to heaven, go to heaven. If you go to hell, go to hell”.

  • “Now why would I want to go to hell? I want to go to heaven, it’s much nicer. I know me, I know what I want. Heaven and hell, they’re not the same, they’re very different.”
  • “Different for who?”
  • “For me, I’m not stupid! Good things are good, and bad things are bad! I’ve been to school and I know the difference between shit and chocolate!”

This is the view that we are familiar with, it makes sense to us. Yet our capacity to keep the ‘bad’ away and to always acquire the ‘good’ is very limited. In grounding our identity in the ever-changing flow of experience we make ourselves hostages to fortune. Dzogchen points to the true ground of our being, the vajra or indestructible, ungraspable open presence.

    Our mind itself is vajra
    The basis of our existence,
    The radiant open clarity,
    Unborn and unceasing,
    Is not created out of good deeds,
    Nor is it destroyed by bad deeds.
    From the very beginning it has been there,
    It is always here, closer to us than our breath.
    This open state, the centre of our heart, offers hospitality to everything.
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