In his new book, Entering the Mind, C von Hassett takes us luminously into the life-affirming, heart-awakening, consciousness-altering terrains of mind in its natural state, where he shows us how to recognize this already Awakened state within ourselves, then realize it through holistic, wholly committed practice. Below is a chapter excerpt from Entering the Mind.
Entering the Mind
by C von Hassett
Waterside Productions, 173pp., $12.95
There is a road leading into the Grand Canyon, Highway 64, that takes you straight into the heart of some of the most magnificent views on the planet. They are literally breathtaking, these views, looking out as they do on both space and split plateaus that plunge deep through the earth and through stratas of time into the Río Colorado below. One could say these views are to die for, for they deliver you headlong into the contemplation of your own imminent death. This contemplation isn’t necessarily a philosophical one, though it can certainly be that as well. Rather, it is one which is immediate and visceral and borne entirely of a fall, for you cannot look over the edge of the Grand Canyon without considering your own fall into that great abyss of emptiness. It is this very abyss which gives rise to the canyon’s ineffable beauty, as well as highlighting by way of counterpoint the sheer sanctity of the riven land.
This view is much akin to the one we witness of our own mind in its natural state, which too is spacious and even wondrous, a wide-open emptiness that is at once unending and all-encompassing. There is an inexpressible majesty to this view, for it is entirely exalted. The means of transport that leads us to this view is our meditation. Meditation is the vehicle we use to ultimately arrive at our destination. Dzogchen instruction is the road. There is only one destination in meditation, and that is the recognition of the open, expansive nature of our own innate mind – the view. All other roads in meditation are merely sightseeing.
Were you to keep driving once recognizing the overlooks of the Grand Canyon you would be erring on the side of the view, lost in the magnificence of its mind-expanding vistas which lay out endlessly before you. This would be a mistake, and in the Grand Canyon it would be a perilous one. You would be distracted in the state of wonder, wanting to hold onto something that cannot be grasped. The view, then, cannot be continually driven toward, since at some point there is nothing there. The road simply ends.
In the same way, we do not want to be caught up in the view of our meditation, either, attached to its majesty and wide-open wonder, for then we are in yet another state of distraction. Attachment is distraction, and distraction has us right back in conceptual mind. In meditation, once we’ve arrived at the view we must now leave the vehicle, for it can take us no further. The arrival is the recognition, and when we rest in the view we are no longer meditating, no longer driving, we are merely taking in the mind, deepening in our experience of it and becoming one with it.
The view, being the essence of our own mind, is empty like space yet entirely aware. The awareness is that which sees, wherein space and seeing are inseparably one. It is an omniscient eye, this mind. In it, we rest in the view of emptiness that is simultaneously cognizant, and we become confident in the knowing that the resting is the destination. At this point we are no longer meditating and so are no longer in need of the vehicle. Slipping from recognition and becoming distracted means we’ve wandered from the view, and this warrants the use of the vehicle again, the meditation, where we set out once more to recognize, rest, and stabilize in seeing.
To that end, this book is the map you’ll need for navigating the road, and it will take you to the destination just as surely as the map of Arizona takes you to Highway 64, which then leads you straight to the Grand Canyon’s life-affirming edge. Here, you are to leave the vehicle at the side of the road, step out and simply enjoy the view, and you do this by doing nothing other than resting in it. Follow the map and you will most certainly arrive at your destination.
The ideas and practices in Entering the Mind adhere closely to Dzogchen instruction, while the book elaborates on those profound teachings from the perspective of a longtime practitioner. It can be seen, as said, as a map, or as a manual, of sorts, a step-by-step guidebook for the reader to recognize and ultimately realize their own naturally occurring mind, or what is traditionally called ‘mind in its natural state.’
This mind is ever present within us, within each of us. It is also eternally with us and always in wait for our mere recognition, for it is ever-so close. So close is it, in fact, that it is often said our own innate mind is as far from us as our finger is from space. How far must we move a finger to touch space? The mind we aim to recognize is this close, and we must only shift the inner eye just so in order to see it. We make this shift through lucid instruction and regular practice. The instruction is here in Entering the Mind, while the practice is your cherished own.
Prior to mind recognition instruction, the other aspect of this book will be to prepare the body for entering the mind, and then help align the intentions of that mind with the higher commitment of a sustainable, lifelong practice. The practice itself, and the ultimate recognition of your own natural state, will inevitably lead to an existence absent of all the anxieties and inherent maladies so many of us face here in the West.
In recognizing this innate mind, then stabilizing in the profound observance of it, what is swiftly removed from our experience is depression, fear, anxiety, anger, aggression, amongst the many other difficulties we dependably experience in our lifetime, and this occurs rather quickly after becoming familiar with the natural state. What’s returned is love, joy, compassion, an abiding wisdom and a welcomed sense of near-total ease that pervades each activity we engage in throughout our day, not to mention the beautiful relationships we develop as a result of our own renewed perspective on our lives and the world around us. Indeed, the practices put forth in this book are that powerful, in as much as they are thoroughly transformational.
— above is from Chapter III of Entering the Mind, the new book by C von Hassett. Read other chapter excerpts here
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C von Hassett is a writer, editor, and the publisher of Riot Material magazine. He is a onetime professor of literature and a decades-long practitioner of Dzogchen, a radical if not revolutionary wisdom practice which points the practitioner directly toward the recognition of their own mind in its natural state – there but to awaken. His new book, Entering the Mind, is a richly poetic and deeply insightful exploration of that transformative practice. His first book, The Boundary Stone, is a narrative poem set in the embering afters of an apocalypse. Hassett currently lives with his wife and two dogs in Los Angeles and Joshua Tree.
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