Innermost Awareness Is The Essence Of All Tibetan Buddhist Teachings
I have great interest in the statement by many wise persons in all the orders of Tibetan Buddhism that their systems come down to the same final principle, and I feel that this is what I should and must explain. Such an exploration may be controversial, but in any case, these great scholar–yogis say that all these systems come down to the same final basic insight about innermost awareness, the same principle, because there is indeed a final basic experience on which they all alight. There is no way they would say this just to be polite.
In texts we inherited from India, the basic principle is sometimes called the “fundamental innate mind of clear light” or the “fundamental innate wisdom of clear light,” these two terms having the same meaning. In other texts, it is called the “space-diamond pervading space,” while in yet others it is called the “jewel mind,” as, for example, when it is said, “Separate from the jewel mind, there is no buddha and no sentient being.”
Then, in Tibet, in some texts, it is called “ordinary consciousness” and “innermost awareness.” These terms are used in the context of speaking about freedom from thought, which is psychologically and experientially described as “self-release,” “naked release,” and “unimpeded penetration.” The innermost awareness is said to be the basis of the appearance of all of the round of suffering (cyclic existence) and also the basis of liberation (nirvana). Everything, without exception, is complete in the continuum of innermost awareness. It is even said to be naturally arisen, since it has always been and always will be.
All of the phenomena of cyclic existence and nirvana are, when you come down to it, not newly produced by causes and conditions but integrally complete within the nature of primordial, naturally arisen innermost awareness; everything is contained within its sphere, within its scope. On the low end, the basis of the dawning of all of the phenomena of the world of suffering is this diamond mind of clear light; on the high end, the basis of the dawning of all the pure phenomena of liberation is just this innermost awareness, also called the diamond mind of clear light.
This is a topic well worth exploring for the sake of furthering our inner peace by opening our minds beyond our usual stream of thoughts. We should look into this with the aim of creating more peace with our neighbors and throughout our world.
Innermost Awareness Pervades Every Type of Consciousness
No matter what kind of consciousness we might consider, the clear light of innermost awareness pervades it. Ice, even when it is solid and very hard, does not pass beyond the nature of water. In the same way, no matter how gross, tough, or coarse conceptions might be, the place from which they dawn and the place into which they vanish when we no longer think about them does not pass beyond innermost awareness.
Conceptual awareness appears from within the sphere of innermost awareness and finally dissolves into the sphere of innermost awareness. Since this is the case, as the early twentieth-century scholar–yogi of the Old Translation (Nyingma) School Dodrubchen Jigme Tenpe Nyima says, just as oil pervades the entirety of sesame seeds, so clear light pervades all consciousness. He concludes that therefore even at the time of the manifestation of the coarser levels of mind—both during thinking and during the operation of the sensory consciousnesses associated with the eye, ear, nose, tongue, and body—it is possible to identify, through the force of a lama or guru’s empowering blessings and quintessential instructions, a subtle feature of clear light that pervades each of these consciousnesses.