Spacious Passion

Chapter 3 – Spontaneity


Q: When I stop feeling anger, is there an in-between phase when I experience something that is neutral before I am able to experience liberated energy? Does emotion change when we start practising?

NN: Emotion does not disappear when we start to practice – but our relationship with our emotions changes.

You see, we have a word for anger because that is what we habitually name a particular type of experience. In fact there are many words under the umbrella of ‘anger’: irritation, frustration, edginess, stress, touchiness, rage, fury, exasperation – and many more. Anger is our reaction in a particular situation while we exist in duality. However the essential energy of anger is simply that: energy. It does not need to be defined or limited via referentiality and the conceptual scaffolding we erect. We can allow this conceptual scaffolding to dissolve. Once dissolved, the energy of anger becomes what it is: clarity. Clarity is the non-dual wisdom which distorts into anger when we manufacture duality from the non-dual ground of being.

Q: Yes, I’ve noticed that two people may do exactly the same thing in front of me and with one of them it would be fine, but it would irritate me like mad in the other one.

NN: Yes, absolutely. There is no neutral stage with emotion. We experience the energy of an emotion – but how we experience depends on our referential interpretation of our situation. When we are able to let go of reference points, we experience energy nakedly and directly.

Q: Isn’t it important to keep the ‘watcher’ so that we are aware when we are moving away from Dharma view?

NN: Mindfulness is important, but in terms of Dzogchen, in terms of spontaneity, we have to let the watcher go. You cannot watch yourself be spontaneous. We are not going to be able to watch ourselves become enlightened – even though this is the greatest desire of most of us. This may sound silly, but that is exactly what we want to do. Eventually we simply have to relax, and allow ourselves the opportunity to enter the experience of non-duality through the mere indication, implicit instruction, or pointing-out instructions of our Lama.

Q: When we realise that we cannot stay aligned with pure view, is there the danger that we simply suppress our responses because we worry about hurting people?

NN: Indeed there is.

Q: So how can we avoid this?

NN: Through the regular practice of meditation techniques that enable us to discover ‘Sky Mind’ and let go of ‘cloud-only mind’. This will gradually enable us to develop a sufficient sense of spaciousness that we can begin to recognise our habitual responses. Then we have the choice of responding in a direction that will lead towards realisation rather than away from it.