vendredi 22 juin 2012

Khyab rig, the Pervading Knowledge and its real meaning

Several misconceptions are affecting some books, transcripts and even internet groups about a rather special and relatively rare notion surrounding Rigpa (rig pa), the knowledge of the natural state. This rare notion is that of Khyab rig, Encompassing Knowledge or Pervading Knowledge, khyab having the meaning of embracing, pervading, etc., and rig being short for rig pa, the direct, non-discursive knowledge of the natural state. Some call that Rigpa “Awareness”, or “Knowledge”, I personally vouch for Knowledge or Discernment, since Rigpa is exactly the same as the fourth Lamp in Thögel (thod rgal), namely the Lamp of the Self-Arisen Sublime Knowledge (shes rab rang byung gi sgron ma). Given the nature of this rigpa, it is clear it is in no way a “presence”, this last term being a limited experience pertaining to the aggregate of sensation. Rigpa is of course much more than that.

The source of the misconception regarding the “Pervading Knowledge” occurs in Tenzin Wangyel’s Wonders of the Natural Mind where it is said (p. 131) :

« Pervading awareness (chab rig) is inseparable from the kunzhi base and is omnipresent in all material existence. »

Chab rig is a colloquial pronunciation of khyab rig, frequent in Eastern Tibet. The correct or standard pronunciation is something like *k’yaprik. For this reason, it is certainly better to refer to the scientific transliteration of this compound which in this case is not very complicated to follow.

Now, from the above quote, it is clearly (but most evidently wrongly) stated that khyab rig “is omnipresent in all material existence”. This is a very surprising statement to say the least. I have shown it to Yongdzin Rinpoche a long time ago and we both laughed at this definition which would imply that all material existence possesses a Rigpa ! In fact, after the initial laughs, Yongdzin Rinpoche was rather worried. There are good reasons for that : maintaining such an idea will entail wrong views about the nature of mind and objects, simply leading people to deviations (gol sa).

Therefore the definition given in the quote above is wrong in every respect. Objects don’t have any Rigpa at all. But this most obvious fact seems to be impossible to accept to some individuals (actually this is always the same person who is constantly involved in this misconception and the defense of Wangyel’s wrong definition). In fact, the Zhangzhung Nyengyü says exactly the contrary in the following quote extracted from the Lamp Clarifying the Oral Advice on the Universal Base (Kun gzhi zhal shes gsal ba’i sgron ma, p. 486 of the extra-large edition) :

@m-:};-9v;->m-'$-0-M1=k 0{1-.}-9m,-.=-A$-&u0-={1=-K#=-=v-8&:-#6m-1{+-.=-1-=0-.-W:-1*}$-k

phyi rol yul gyi snang ba rnams/
bem po yin pas byang chub sems rtags su ‘char gzhi med pas ma khyab pa ltar mthong/

«  The appearances of the outer objects are material and therefore don’t have any base for an arising indicating they have a Pure and Perfect Mind (Bodhicitta) : they are thus considered as not being encompassed by (this Mind). »

Therefore, saying that Khyab rig encompasses “all material existence” contradicts both logic and the validity of the teachings. If objects had a Rigpa, then they could reach Buddhahood and, as far as I’ve been able to investigate (not even a couple of micro-seconds), there isn’t any reference to a table or a pillar or any other thing that has manifested both Bodies (sku) and Wisdoms (ye shes) ! It would then seem that the understanding of what Khyab rig is is flawed by those who maintain that initial (and wrong) definition.

Contrary to what those advocating this wrong definition pretend, there are not many references to this Khyab rig in Dzogchen literature at all. The occurrences are thus rather scarce. For instance, there are only two mentions of it in the entire collection of works by Shardza Rinpoche. These two references respectively occur in the Künzang Nyingthik (Kun bzang snying thig), and in the Treasury of Space and Awareness (dByings rig mdzod), where both definitions of Khyab rig are nearly identical.

In Heart Drops of Dharmakaya, the English rendering of the Künzang Nyingthik, Yongdzin Rinpoche presents the definition of Rigpa as follows (p. 58) :

« There are three descriptions of awareness {rig pa). The first is encompassing awareness, the second is awareness of thinking and the third is primordial awareness. The first means the awareness of the Buddha who encompasses all beings. »

Therefore, there is no question whatsoever of material existence in the definition of Khyab rig which does not embrace objects but beings. The actual text by Shardza Rinpoche is even clearer. It says (p. 26 of the original text) :

+$-.}-,mk k0+{-#<{#=-$m$-.}=-8E}-0-9}$=-;-=0-.-21-;-8+}+-.8}k

dang po ni/  /bde gshegs snying pos 'gro ba yongs la khyab pa tsam la 'dod pa'o/ 

« — As to the first (of the three Rigpas, the khyab rig) is maintained to be simply the Sugatagarbha which embraces the entirety of migrating beings. »

In his Treasury of Space and Awareness (vol. II, p. 147), Shardza Rinpoche uses nearly the same definition (with only “entirety” [yongs] changed into “all”[kun]) :

+$-.}-,mk 0+{-#<{#=-$m$-.}=-8E}-0-\o,-;-=0-.-21-;-8+}+-+}k

dang po ni/ bde gshegs snying pos ‘gro ba kun la khyab pa tsam la ‘dod do/

« — As to the first (of the three Rigpas, the khyab rig) is maintained to be simply the Sugatagarbha which embraces all migrating beings. »

In both definitions, one must insist on the “simply” (tsam la) because it clearly excludes that anything else might be embraced by this Pervading Rigpa.

One final note : the triple division of Rigpa into khyab rig, bsam rig, and ye rig is presented by the same people as appearing in the Zhangzhung Nyengyü. There is not a single occurrence of this triple aspect of Rigpa in any of the Nyengyü or the Nyamgyü texts.

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