Consider the Buddha’s introductory remark:
Harmoniously, cordially, without dispute,
train yourselves in these qualities
that I have pointed out to you,
having known them directly
What does it mean, “having known them directly?”
“Pointing out instruction” means drawing the student’s attention to the qualities of his own consciousness that unfold into enlightenment. The Buddha’s notion was that everyone is a flashlight with gunk smeared on the lens. Get rid of the gunk and you find enlightenment.
Certain mental qualities, when you work at them, tend to work away the gunk. By directing the student’s attention to those qualities, the teacher helps the student along.
But… in practice, the way this “pointing out instruction” worked was that the teacher — an accomplished guru — would mentally “zap” the student and put them into that consciousness most useful and relevant to the work. The term for this version of pointing out instruction is “esoteric transmission.” It’s not much talked about.
I can’t teach with esoteric instruction. I use hypnosis. Zen masters do this using the riddle-without-a-satisfactory-answer *(apologies for over simplifying Koan teaching). The idea in any case is to properly generate the correct state of mind to begin transcending having any particular state of mind.
However, the student still has to do the work. The pointing-out instruction is all well and good — but the student must still then huff and puff and cultivate the proper unraveling of bullshit consciousness.
Therefore, train yourself in these qualities, that the Buddha has pointed out to us all, having known them directly. If you haven’t known them directly, that you remember, in this life — that’s fine. Get as close as you can and plow on through. Get that gunk off your lens.
- Discerning Buddha Nature: A Contemporary Worldview (engageddharma.com)
- The Falseness of the Five Skandhas (respectfestival.wordpress.com)
- Mahamudra (jampasmandala.wordpress.com)