Similes of Illusion on the Spectrum of Enlightenment

Talk at the Upaya Zen Center program, “What is Enlightenment?” February 7, 2021. Listen to the talk on the Upaya Dharma Podcast on Apple Podcasts.

Abstract: My presentation is framed around similes of illusion along the spectrum of enlightenment. Drawing from the 14th c. Tibetan author Longchen Rabjam’s work, Finding Rest in Illusion, we tease out the distinction that he makes between the illusion of perverse cognition (log rtog sgyu ma) and the illusion of the perfectly pure (yang dag sgyu ma). This leads us up and down the slippery slope of the dichotomies – buddhas and non-buddhas, samsara and nirvana, ordinary mind and the pristine awareness of buddhahood. To keep it experiential, we discuss excerpts from my translation of Longchenpa’s brief Dzokchen meditation instruction, Guidance on Being at Ease with Illusion (Sgyu ma ngal gso’i don khrid). Ideas in philosophy and the cognitive sciences will be brought into dialogue with the Tibetan Buddhist materials.