Dudjom Rigpa


“Ignorance can be compared to a dark room in which you sleep. No matter how long the room has been dark, an hour or a million years, the moment the lamp of awareness is lit the entire room becomes luminous. You are that luminosity. You are that clear light.”

~ Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche

Imagine what a “game-changer” it would be to suddenly realize that nothing we can see, feel, think, or know is actually real. From the revelatory angle of vision coincident with awake awareness, there’s neither birth nor death, appearance nor disappearance, creation nor destruction, bondage nor liberation, you or I. Those are all conceptual designations, empty of any inherent and independent existence other than that which mind bestows upon them. The wisest sages know that there’s neither unity nor plurality – the world is neither one nor many. Existence itself more like a virtual reality game, and we have taken our places here in these game bodies to test ourselves, to see what we are really made of deep down at the core, and to enjoy the infinite Mystery in all of its permutations.

Hearing that, some might imagine that there is something to “get”, some special state or permanent position to possess and make one’s own. However, wisdom reveals that we are not here to acquire some enlightenment that is not already true of us, progressing through various stages until we arrive at some exalted destination. We ourselves are the destination — we go nowhere. There’s never been a human being in need of salvation, redemption, protection, or freedom. Such concepts are merely props and stage sets for the game, the play of consciousness, the dream we call “our life”.

In fact, the external world has no existence independent of the consciousness which perceives it. This is not only the testimony of sages and mystics, but is now a cornerstone of quantum physics. Mere perception and practical utility cannot prove the reality of the world, for even in dreams there is perception and practical utility – water in a dream can quench the dream thirst as much as real water can quench real thirst. The waking state is on par with the dream state, and both are real within their own order — that’s important to recognize. But from the ultimate standpoint, both are unreal.

Reality is beyond human conception. It transcends the trinity of the knower, known and knowledge. Timeless and motionless, it’s “where” all the categories of the intellect are merged. All phenomena, subjective as well as objective, are by their nature serene from the beginning, unborn and merged in Source. They are nothing other than imaginative expressions of Source itself, figments of Source — an infinitely stable, self-luminous, conscious force perpetually and joyously manifesting its own awareness in the forms of everything and everyone.

The presumption of Duality is the product of the intellect, but when the intellect is transcended and all conditional mental and emotional fabrications are seen through and discarded, the trick of duality disappears. What’s left is pure aware spaciousness, devoid of all thought determinations and imagination. It is the serene eternal Light behind the mind. It is incomprehensible bliss, which transcends happiness and misery.

The Absolute is indescribable, unborn, changeless and non-dual. Although many names are devised by human wisdom systems to describe it, fundamentally, it’s You! As Kalu Rinpoche so clearly put it, “We live in illusion and the appearance of things. There is a reality. We are that reality. When you understand this, you see that you are nothing, and being nothing, you are everything. That is all.”

That being the case, how is it that we still seem to persist in ignorance of such a critical truth, and how can we awaken from such a trance? Well, we can begin by recognizing that the only thing we are ever trying to assert, protect, and defend is some conditional and conditioned image we have of ourselves – an ongoing story of a separate and independent “me” that serves as the perceptual matrix for our attitudes and experience.

Just so, rather than attempting to reify, justify, or eliminate that one, we can instead simply examine our assumption that such a one actually exists. In fact, maybe we have dreamed the whole story up in the first place, causing ourselves untold confusion and stress in the process! In that light, awakening is simply letting go of what we never actually had. Going even further, we realize that nobody actually lets go of anything. The illusion of a separate and independent self simply drops away in the light of Recognition. It happens, and yet only to the extent that anything happens in a dream or movie. In reality, there has never been anything other than the “True Self”, playing hide and seek with Itself.

Upon thorough inspection, we can begin to notice that there is something so simple about our own nature that it is routinely by-passed and even stubbornly avoided. It is an affront to the physical persona which fixates on the sense of its own individualized existence as a defense against the death timed into it. It is an affront to the emotional persona which seeks through feeling to grasp that in which feeling arises. It is an affront to the intellectual persona which relies on comparative mind for distraction and knowing as a defense against the unknown and unknowable. It is an affront to the spiritual persona which clings to “higher” states dependent on manipulative strategies fabricated to escape from that root contraction of embodiment clenching at the heart.

Omnipresent Spirit manifests an infinite display of personas, also known as the infinite masks of God, based on an immense curiosity to experience every possible projection of Itself. What is called “the soul” is a temporary embodiment of consciousness that Spirit wears in order to experience different vibrational frequencies. However, when the soul identifies exclusively with any of these arbitrary masks and forgets its immortal source, it becomes “confused” and starts looking for itself. To “return home”, it imagines all sorts of ways and means, from “love me” dreams, to yogic schemes at ashram scenes, or maybe just addictive sessions with Mr. Jim Beam.

The chronic belief that we have to jump through various socially or religiously prescribed hoops to arrive at what we actually Are is one of the confused mind’s classic ways of obstructing, or postponing, its own dethronement. There is the suspicion that, if the truth of our own original nature and identity as Spirit is allowed in, then there will be something that will not survive, and that is correct. What does not survive is the exclusivity of the independent self-sense — the complex structure of the separate and alienated ego/mind, assembled over many years and perpetually reinforced by conditioning-in-the-moment, and all based upon an innocent notion of mistaken identity.

We have come to assume that we are a separate and enduring “somebody”, divided from life and love, and in the hellish position of having to manipulate circumstance in order to carve out some little piece of fleeting happiness, when in fact we are Happiness Itself. Despairing of this, we imagine, we hope, that there must be some heaven elsewhere to which we might be transported from this “vale of tears”, once we have served our sentence of embodiment in the prison of wounded flesh and compounded suffering.

Religious “authorities”, who themselves secretly doubt the revelation of Loving Truth upon which their traditions are based, maintain their power and influence by blithely leading little children out of the wonder of their own pristine innocence and into the snake pit of guilt and shame with the indoctrination of the Lie — the lie that we are separated from the Great One, that we are tainted and diseased by sin or karma, and that their church, method, yoga, dharma, prayer, or practice is the cure.

When we begin to awaken from this nightmare, by the graceful power of divine Remembrance and Recognition, we can discover something very liberating: there is no cure, because this terrible malady and affliction is nothing but an imaginary disease. It does not exist! The truth is, we swim, unfettered, in a vast ocean of Spirit. Indeed, Spirit is our own true identity, functioning in time and space as Love Supreme. Everyone “knows” this in their own heart, everyone intuits the YES of all-embracing Divinity.

All we need do is Be it, rather than indulging in fantasy stories and pretending to be anything other than our own original nature. Nisargadatta Maharaj put it perfectly when he said: “You are the Supreme Reality beyond the world and its creator, beyond consciousness and its witness, beyond all assertions and denials. Remember it, think of it, act on it. Abandon all sense of separation, see yourself in all and act accordingly.”

Nevertheless, the fact remains that there is suffering and stress, boredom, doubt, and discomfort, spawning the motive and motion to alleviate it. Everything is seeking. Life and death are mere blips on the screen of seeking. Seeking is all about the sense we have of being a separate and vulnerable individual, and this sense manifests as the feelings of desire, conflict, and resistance, the endless loop of attraction and aversion, hope and fear, which dominates consciousness and reinforces the sense of self, the perpetual story of “me”.

The first step to breaking that cycle is learning to live in genuine humility, since without humility, all one’s efforts are worthless. The internal conflict, based on the struggle to have things be other than they are, melts away when acceptance and surrender become genuine. Somehow, the heart must be turned to the intuition of what waits, softly breathing, at the deepest core of its own yearning, pierced by the recognition of and utter submission to that which is prior to the fabricated sense of self and all its conflicted modifications.

In such surrender, the struggle of life force and consciousness is given up, laid down, like flowers at the feet of the Beloved. This is the true end of the “personal” life, and it is indeed not unlike a death. The artfulness of it resides in the obliteration of our egoic willfulness, which leads in turn to the restoration of the primal innocence, our true face before life and death commence their dance. This original face is radiant with loving compassion for all that appears, changes, and vanishes. How then can we not love life, with all its tender weaknesses?

At last comes a difficult chasm to cross: the breakthrough recognition that all of it — the whole story of “me and mine” — is simply a beaming projection of one’s own mind. To then turn around and plunge directly into the source of that mind — that’s what takes tremendous courage. It is most rare, most excellent.

It’s a huge leap — to relinquish the pretense of being a knower, to let go of that motive to maintain the defining thread of independence (even if that story is conceptually recognized as an illusion of control). Such a gesture is the essence of a living poetry, the sublime art of life. It awaits all of us, should we be willing to let go of the whole carefully-constructed narrative of “me and mine”, and lose ourselves to find our Self.

“[You must] discard all your experiences, your knowledge, and all the things and ideas that you think are the most reliable, most magnificent, and most real, even including your hope [to get free]. It is as if you were entering a sacred building. Before you do so, the guard tells you that you must not carry any weapon, that you must take off all your clothes, and that not only must you be completely naked you also have to leave your body and soul behind. Then you can enter.”

~ Sheng-yen



About Bob OHearn

My name is Bob O'Hearn, and I live with my Beloved Mate, Mazie, in the foothills of the Northern California Sierra Nevada Mountains. I have a number of blog sites you may enjoy: Photo Gallery: Essays on the Conscious Process: Compiled Poetry and Prosetry: Verses and ramblings on life as it is: Verses and Variations on the Investigation of Mind Nature: Verses on the Play of Consciousness: Poetic Fiction, Fable, Fantabulation: Poems of the Mountain Hermit: Love Poems from The Book of Yes: Autobiographical Fragments, Memories, Stories, and Tall Tales: Ancient and modern spiritual texts, creatively refreshed: Writings from selected Western Mystics, Classic and Modern: Wisdom of a Spirit Guide: Thank You!
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37 Responses to You

  1. nancygrignon says:

    This is the most wonderfully written piece I have read in years! Thank you for your clarity and excellence in word smithing. Namaste!

  2. I agree with Nancy my friend, beautifully written. I have read these same admonitions to finally let go of the illusion of an independent self, but seldom with such focus and clarity.

    If you would allow this humble layman to share with you where I have come to in my spiritual journey. I have studied eastern philosophy and religion for over 40 years now, read stacks of excellent books on transcending the ego and the self and I thoroughly grasp this conceptually on the deepest intellectual level.

    I have practiced meditation, yoga and other methods of suspending thought and fostering mindfulness. There are now many moments of my day when I am completely present and in what could be called a natural state of ordinary mind, concentrating completely on here and now. I view these moments of surrender as openings, staying awake in the joy of being until I am once again immersed in the phenomenal world or lost in thought constructions.

    I find myself now at 59 years of age, standing on the edge of the chasm that you have described so eloquently. My difficultly, if I could call it that, is that the ground I am standing on seems very firm and I’m not sure I have the desire or courage to take that huge leap you speak of.

    I live in the grip of this illusion that is the temporal material word. It is the vast ocean in which I have swam my entire life. I have a beautiful wife and soul mate of 35 years, two great adult children, I have a good business and satisfying work, I teach college and I interact with hundreds of interested students and valued colleagues every week. My wife and I have been caring for her father who has been living with us since suffering from a debilitating stroke 8 years ago. Through it all I carve out time for gardening, physical activity in nature and personal creative expressions in fine art. Throughout the course of my adult life I have willingly taken on duties, responsibilities, obligations and commitments, both for myself, for those I love and for the community I share with my friends, neighbors and the larger world. I am not embarrassed to admit that I derive a great deal of joy and satisfaction from all of these things and feel a sense of pride and accomplishment in this life. However temporal and illusory it may be in reality, this world and the love I have in it has always felt and continues to feel very real to me.

    Though I see clearly now that this is all but a dream, It’s been a sweet dream and I am not at all sure I am ready to wake up. I think perhaps I’ll tarry for just awhile longer until I can master the art of walking without stumbling or floating off the ground quite so often.

    And I would still like to learn how to make a proper cup of tea.

    • Bob OHearn says:

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Jeff! I appreciate where you are at, and understand your position. In examining the literature on Awakening, we invariably find individuals who felt a keen sense of dissatisfaction with the world, to the point that they would undergo any hardship in order to realize their true nature. Those who awoke spontaneously appear to be rare exceptions to that rule.
      However, even if things are going along smoothly, and life seems pretty good, there is something that we can notice — a subtle stress, or contraction, at the root of our being. It is this contraction, when inspected, that motivates the search for relief. Most seek that relief through various distractions (money, food, and sex being the prominent vehicles), and some take on various spiritual practices, schemes, and methods.
      Nevertheless, it is usually only when all strategies prove ineffective in relieving that fundamental knot at the core that we become available. We become available by the grace of failure, and in that raw availability there is the possibility of true transformation.
      On the other hand, not everyone is here to experience some sort of transcendental awakening. Some are here just to learn how to behave with integrity, and enjoy the Mystery of beingness. Remember, there is no timetable for awakening — it is after all our fundamental nature. Our curriculum in this life may be to work on eliminating the poisons which we have accumulated in our unconsciousness — greed, envy, and hatred, for example. Indeed, that is more than enough for most folks who show up here, leading to the realization that Love is all that really matters.


  3. Candace says:

    Dear Brother,

    Thank you for writing pieces that spark Remembrance in me! These pieces are written with such clarity and create such a profound resonance. I am deeply grateful for you!

    Sincere Mahalos!

    Love & Blessings!

  4. marcel says:

    Thank you Brother!

    There is a subtle truth ~ whatever you love you are (Rumi)

    [You and Love (Absolute) are “not-two”, mind cannot grasp what you Are]

    • Bob OHearn says:

      Yes, Brother, Love is truly all that matters. If we haven’t awoken to that, then we haven’t really awoken.

      Time is the shop
      Where everyone works hard
      To build enough love
      To break the

      Wise men keep talking about
      Wanting to meet Her.

      Women sometimes pronounce the word God
      A little differently:
      They can use more feeling and skill
      With the heart-lute.

      All the world’s movements,
      Apparent chaos, and suffering I now know happen
      In the Splendid Unison:

      Our tambourines are striking
      The same thigh.

      Hafiz stands
      At a juncture in this poem.
      There are a thousand new wheels I could craft
      On a wagon
      And place you in –
      Lead you to a glimpse of the culture
      And seasons in another dimension.

      Yet again God
      Will have to drop you back at the shop
      Where you still have work


      Love & Blessings!

  5. marcel says:

    “Hafiz stands at a juncture in this poem.”

    Ah, yes, if he would have been at the tavern I just come home from, I’d have someone to ‘talk’ to! Thanks Brother!

    • Bob OHearn says:

      The purpose of words is to convey ideas. When the ideas
      are grasped, the words are forgotten.

      Where can I find a man who has forgotten words?

      He is the one I would like to talk to.

      Chuang Tzu

  6. marcel says:

    “What is the root of all these words? One thing: Love.
    But a love so deep and sweet it needed to express itself
    with scents, sounds, colors that never before existed.”

    • Bob OHearn says:

      Holy books
      will disappear,
      and then only
      the mystic
      will remain.

      When the mystic
      formula departed,
      naught but mind
      was left.

      When the mind
      naught was left
      anywhere, and
      a Voice
      became merged
      within the


  7. marcel says:

    Yet something stirs in the womb of forgetfullness…….

    PS… there was almost a spontaneous poem about “released through fire” but this apparatus just gets stuck, I might drop you a sketch of it this week 🙂

    • Bob OHearn says:

      “Yet something stirs in the womb of forgetfullness…….”

      Curiosity. 🙂

      “It is the instinct of exploration, the love of the unknown, that brings me into existence. It is in the nature of being to see adventure in becoming, as it is in the very nature of becoming to seek
      peace in being. This alternation of being and becoming is inevitable: but my home is beyond.”

      ~Sri Niz

  8. Bob OHearn says:

    “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.
    You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
    You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
    And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”
    ~ Dr. Seuss

    “Be just what you is, not what you is not.
    Folks what do this has the happiest lot.”
    ~Mr. Wizard

  9. Bob OHearn says:

    “Whatever can be described cannot be your self, and what you are cannot be described. You can only know your self by being yourself without any attempt at self-definition and self-description. Once you have understood that you are nothing perceivable or conceivable, that whatever appears in the field of consciousness cannot be your self, you will apply yourself to the eradication of all self-identification, as the only way that can take you to a deeper realisation of your self. You literally progress by rejection — a veritable rocket. To know that you are neither in the body nor in the mind, though aware of both, is already self-knowledge.
    ‘Nothing is me,’ is the first step. ‘Everything is me’ is the next. Both hang on the idea: ‘there is a world’. When this too is given up, you remain what you are — the non-dual Self. You are it here and now, but your vision is obstructed by your false ideas about your self.
    You know so many things about yourself, but the knower you do not know. Find out who you are, the knower of the known. Look within diligently, remember to remember that the perceived cannot be the perceiver. Whatever you see, hear or think of, remember — you are not what happens, you are he to whom it happens. Delve deeply into the sense ‘I am’ and you will surely discover that the perceiving centre is universal, as universal as the light that illumines the world. All that happens in the universe happens to you, the silent witness. On the other hand, whatever is done, is done by you, the universal and inexhaustible energy.”

    ~Nisargadatta Maharaj

  10. Bob OHearn says:

    “The three states come and go, but you are always there. It is like a cinema. The screen is always there. Several types of pictures appear on the screen and disappear. Nothing sticks to the screen; it remains a screen. Similarly, you remain your own Self in all the three states. If you know that, the three states will not trouble you, just as the pictures which appear on the screen do not stick to it. That means that the three states will not stick to you.”

    ~Ramana Maharshi

  11. Bob OHearn says:

    “Our appearance, direction, and actions simply happen. This realization is freedom. From that point on, there is no meditator, no meditation, no doing, no knowing, and no realization. There is only a mysterious happening that can’t be understood in any way. It becomes obvious there has never been anything else.

    “This is a complete opening to the unformed, the undirected, the uncontrolled, the unexpected, and the unpredictable. This openness is often called love. In this, you are not a body; you are not a mind; there is only love.

    “This love is not some cold, intellectual understanding; it’s an openness of heart. This love is not an aching, desire-filled attachment to a person, a possession, an idea, a cause, a career, a practice, or an understanding.

    “This love is not some romantic myth of everyone embracing and singing the same song. Instead, it’s a truly sensitive vulnerability to what is.

    “Ideas only go so far. At some point, the heart may open to the totally indefinable, unpredictable, and often unwanted movement that life is. Love is that openness of heart.”

    – Darryl Bailey, from his book Dismantling the Fantasy

  12. Candace says:

    I love this piece even more than second time around! How does one balance the “responsibilities” (e.g., paying bills, working, etc.) that come along with being a “person” and the recognition that there is no self at all? It would seem that the recognition would help the “person” maintain their responsibilities from a place of detachment, but what if that isn’t so? What if instead the recognition leads to a lack of desire to do much of anything at all related to traditional responsibilities?

    • Bob OHearn says:

      A very good question, and one which was first addressed in the famous Heart Sutra, wherein the phrase “Form is empty, but emptiness is also form” indicated that awakening to the emptiness of the self and world only represents a half-way stage. If one does not “return to the marketplace” (as the final stage of the 10 Zen oxherding pictographs point to), then there is still work to be done. In my essay “Like Burglars”, I go into this in more detail:

      • Candace says:

        Thank you, Brother. I’m headed to your essay now. 🙂

      • Bob OHearn says:

        What it comes down to is this: love is what really matters — how we treat each other — regardless of any other realizations or views we might espouse momentarily in the midst of the infinite expansion of consciousness.

        Love & Blessings!

      • Candace says:

        Yes! I completely agree! Love is what really matters. I just read the essay and it is profound. What stuck out to me the most were the words: “(love) is as free in bondage as it is in liberation.” When it comes to traditional responsibilities, “I” feel a sense of being in bondage and while there is recognition of that being an illusion, there is resistance there…I recognize these things intellectually but do not yet “feel” them as deeply.

        Thank you, Brother!

      • Bob OHearn says:

        As long as we inhabit the human form and vibrate at its frequency, even the wisest among us will alternate between clear and dim seeing. It is the nature of this realm and the inherent amnesia that comes with it, and very very few can maintain “right view” 24/7. Perhaps nobody! Even that being so, what is our deepest yearning, if not to love and be loved? Consequently, we can continue to practice true meditation and the disciplines of silence and non-dwelling, but we need not be hard on ourselves for not being Jnanis — there is plenty of time for that. In the meantime, we can always examine our experience to see if we are imbuing it with love without strings attached. The more we are able to, the more the rest will take care of itself.

        Love & Blessings, Sister!

    • Candace says:

      “We can always examine our experience to see if we are imbuing it with love without strings attached. The more we are able to, the more the rest will take care of itself.”

      Thank you for the wonderful reminder, Brother! Much aloha to you!

  13. Bob OHearn says:

    “Life as an art and art as a game – as action for its own sake, without thought of gain or loss, of praise or blame – is the key, then, to the turning of living itself into a yoga, and art is the means to such a life.”

    ~Joseph Campbell, Myths to Live By

  14. Bob OHearn says:

    “Identify within you that which persists and pervades, regardless of fault, fall or failure; that which cannot be taken away from you by person, place or predicament through persecution, predominance or pressure. This is who you are.”


  15. Judy says:

    Bob, I’ve been reading your articles the past couple weeks, and they are so helpful. I love how you pull in so many elements of wisdom in every article. This one is superb.

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