Gampopa: Why recognition of the natural state is more important than shamatha and scholarly knowledge

»As practitioners, please remind yourselves of death and impermanence. Do not forget karmic cause and result. Recognize the shortcomings of samsara as well as the shortcomings of the Hinayana. Recollect loving-kindness, compassion, and bodhichitta. From now on, if you want to be liberated from samsara, you need to recognize tamel gyi shepa, the ordinary mind, since it is the heart of all the dharma.

What is the ordinary mind? It is your own consciousness, unadulterated by anything, unspoiled by any kind of worldly consciousness. No matter what sort of dullness or thoughts hide it, it remains in its natural state. If you realize it, it is the wisdom of pristine awareness. If you do not recognize it, it is coemergent ignorance. When you realize this, it is called rigpa. It is called the essence. It is called coemergent wisdom. It is called the ordinary mind. It is called the primordial state. It is called free from extremes. It is called luminosity.

If you realize this, you become more qualified than a scholar who knows the five traditional sciences. This is because scholars understand through concepts and words. They may know everything, yet they are stumped on this one point. However, if you understand the ordinary mind, then by knowing one thing, you know everything. Since you have gotten to the real point, your qualities are greater.

It is better to understand tamel gyi shepa, the ordinary mind, than to have shamatha that is so stable that you do not know if it is day or night. That kind of shamatha meditation is common; even the long-life gods, and the prairie dogs, bears, and other animals that sleep in holes have that. The ordinary mind is uncommon; this is why it has greater qualities.

It is better to understand tamel gyi shepa, the ordinary mind, than to receive the four empowerments in sequence, practice generating the deity, and experience the signs of contacting, hearing, and seeing the yidam. Seeing the face of the deity is the pure relative truth, and it is a sign of exhausting one’s obscurations. However, knowing the ordinary mind is the ultimate truth, so its qualities are greater.

It is better to understand the ordinary mind than to have the five higher perceptions of the eyes and ears and so on. These higher perceptions come with defilements. Even ghosts and animals can have them. When you understand the ordinary mind, your higher perception is undefiled, so it is more wondrous. A scripture says:

Wisdom, wisdom is the great distinction.

One with wisdom understands existence and non-existence.

It is better to understand the ordinary mind than not to experience perception, or for there to be no perceptible objects, or to have flashes of experience, or to be immersed in emptiness like a completely clear sky. This is because these are generalizations formed through inference. However, the ordinary mind reaches the real point; it is based on direct perception, which makes its qualities greater.

Realizing the ordinary mind is the king of supreme knowing.«

~ Gampopa, Great teachings to the assembly