The Choice to Reify

I pondered this a lot last night in between dreams…and I ended with this question: do we really have a choice to reify in the first place if we wish to abide in this physical state?

That brings another deeper question. What is our natural state? Here is one model…

Our natural state is Rigpa…pure emptiness. In that state we exist in very subtle body and mind. In that state of Rigpa there are no boundaries…no skin…no cell walls…no form. It is a pure and blissful state of existence but at some point we seem to have lost our connection to it as a species. I think we are working out how to get back to that natural state of Rigpa by spending time in these coarse bodies in this physical plane.

But in order to do that we need to establish the boundaries that create form from emptiness. That process of reification begins at birth. Then, at some point in our lives, we realize that we do have the choice to de-reify. We can then begin to learn how to dissolve those boundaries again…in the dream.

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From buddhist doctrine point of view (as I understand it), we have no choice and must reify & reincarnate (which is a form of reification) in some form as long as we have not achieved continuous, deep integration of rigpa.

Edit: … or as long as we are unable to lucidly view phenomena in a Vipashyana-like manner.

The Yungdrung Bön Dzogchen teachings as well as the Nyingma’s speak of mother and son consciousness reunifying. The son-consciousness is the non-dual rigpa-state that you can experience during practice. It is likened to seeing the sun breaking through the clouds for a short instance on an otherwise cloudy day. Deepening and stabilizing rigpa is unification with the “mother”.

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Oh, mind that is my teacher,
I meet you by recognizing what I am.
I pray to you by letting go of doubt and hesitation.
I revere you by letting go and settling naturally.

I serve you by resting continuously in how things are.
I provide you with food by resting without strain in empty clarity.
I provide you with drink by knowing attention and distraction make no difference.
I clothe you by knowing appearance and sound as enchantments.

—Excerpt from a song by 12th-century teacher Kyer-gong-pa

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I have read of this…

I appreciate your explanation from the proper Buddhist perspective, I’m glad to see that it meshes well with my own more secular perspective.

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Been a while - you’ve made some serious leaps since I’ve last been on, @Steve_Gleason!

I’m going to say the answer is YES, we have the choice.
And not just in dreams.

(holding that view or intention at least… “How big are the sails on your sailboat?” sort of thing)


That proclamation comes with an enormous “however”…

First: I’m light-years from anywhere near “there”.
(and: “there is no there there”)
My sense is this is where meditation is critical, essential. And is having a qualified teacher.

I have a new phrase: “transmission by osmosis”


Something about the teacher’s “field” - basically their mind - is like holding a lit match close to an unlit match. It can light the other match, when close enough.

(nod to Holecek’s “2020 Bardos In Everyday Life - COVID vesion” demo of matches representing thoughts - not enough ‘space’ between the the matches and it shows how one thought lights up another and the whole set of matches is instantly ablaze)

Using that same metaphor - if one’s mind has the capacity (via training - meditation), the teacher’s ‘match’ can light the student’s ‘match’.

That’s why a teacher is so important.


What “match” did the teacher light?

I think that’s where the term “the path” comes in.

I’m only guessing here - but eventually glimpses of more and more subtle states of mind. And once a student has the ‘flash of experience’ (via osmosis) - they then go off and practice and work with their minds until they can experience that transmission on their own accord.

Then they go back to the teacher for more.

That is how it rolled out for me at a super coarse level, years ago, at least.


I suspect at some point, the choice you ask does become possible.
Milarepa, right? Put his fist through stone? Or his footprint in rock? (I forget)

He “chose to not reify” - is my left-brain guess.

In the waking state. Or maybe it wasn’t? Perhaps “at some level of dimension” is a closer guess to “a state”
-or-
“whatever those Masters experience as a constant way of being”.

(just got off the Ian Baker interview - WoW! The term he seemed to use was “more porous” or “more permeable”. That lands as “more open” to me, personally.)


– other points –

“Reification begins at birth” - and one could say we are being reborn 360 times a second. And reborn as this “meat body”, on a different level of the fractal.
(nod to Thurman, love the term!!! :rofl:)

“need to establish boundaries” - I think the notion is to dissolve boundaries.

→ it seems to be a process of opening and opening further and then opening to a terrifying vast expanse. (theory, again. No experience here!)

“…in a dream” - one instruction is to view all phenomena as a dream or dream-like.

So now I wonder if the dream state is the same as the waking state is the same as the dreamless state at some point? It’s just all mind. And not the ‘heady, thinking mind’ but the heart-space mind.

Good stuff to chew on! :pray:

  • Courtney
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Hey Courtney…such a wonderful post. So much to chew on, indeed.

I have this strong need to approach this path from a physical perspective…a science perspective, if you will…to try to find how that is reciprocal to the spiritual perspective that I feel so strongly.

Our minds (consciousness) reside for a time in these amazing bodies and, for that time, they become our interface with this world. As an interface, this body has some severe limitations but I can use it in some very cool ways (yoga) to expand the reach of my mind. I was fortunate to have found myself in this body 70 or so years ago…but I wonder how much choice I had with that.

Now that I am here in this way I feel that I must first accept and reify this existence…in order to fully use it to go further. I think that’s what the Mahasiddhas like Milarepa did. Once we have reified this physicality we know better how to dissolve it. Reification and de-reification become completely non-dual. By fully accepting the form of this existence…I have found its emptiness.

Love that! I think that when we fully dissolve all perceived (and reified) boundaries and revert to our luminous nature, light blends with light and that osmosis happens on a very deep and timeless level. :wink:

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From the article,

You can sit and follow your breath at the tip of your nose and work with yourself that way, as is commonly done in the way Buddhist meditation is taught these days, and that’s good. However, at a certain point, you hit a wall and you begin to realize that your awareness is too small. Even though your mind may be relatively peaceful and still, its peace and stillness are really very small. You feel peaceful, but when people meet you with their suffering, there’s something that holds you back. Your awareness is not really open. It’s not flexible and responsive—it’s protecting itself. This is very subtle, but you feel it. You say to yourself, “Where are the vastness and the freedom I’ve read about? “I’m feeling that my awareness is not all time and all space.” So you become inspired to go further in your own practice.