Thogal means "a leap over the crest or skull". This really means a quantum leap where no traverse from one point to another occurs. While remaining in place you suddenly arrive.
Our current state of consciousness as ordinary mind "suddenly" reveals itself to be the Mind of Clear Light. This is like a cube of ice suddenly revealing itself to be transparent water vapor.
Our samsaric mind is a contracted state of Clear Light radiance called tsal; it is a densification of the radiance (tsal) of the Mind of Clear Light.
Thogal focuses on the Clear Light itself as its sole method. It is the highest and most direct approach. We use the Clear Light to en-lighten itself with no other reliance.
It's best to first deactivate the karmic mind by having it realize the emptiness of all subjective and objective projections that reify a personal psychological self and an illusory "objective" world. We do this through the emptiness teachings primarily.*
If we miss this step, thogal can cause problems as the projections of light can mistakenly be grasped as though "real", as well as the imagined observer becoming afraid of their own projections.
Our true nature is always the Mind of Clear Light. It's a matrix of radiant wisdom light that continuously expresses its potentials in an infinite number of holographic displays (radiant tsal) as your inner and outer worlds.
Closest to the pure Mind of Clear Light, is a secondary, derivative consciousness as mind. It is this consciousness that is re-absorbed back into the Mind of Clear Light. We call these wisdom moments of re-absorption, moments of "Rigpa". The "rigpa" moment is the wisdom aspect of the Mind of Clear Light manifesting in lieu of and in absence of ordinary consciousness or karmic mind.
What we call "seeing" is the clear light. At an ordinary level a moment of "seeing" is actually a moment of colors. But more precisely, a moment of "seeing" is a moment of Clear Light. We never see with our eyes, eyes can't see. The world we see is a hologram of Clear Light radiance as projected and experienced within the Mind of Clear Light.
The holograms are 3D expressions (radiant tsal) of wisdom (information) rendered geometrically. This is true also of our daydreams and night dreams.
Thogal, especially the exposure of the eyes to light, causes the holograms of mind, brain and body to convert back into their highest frequency of Clear Light. There is only the Clear Light appearing in various wavelengths and densities (tsal).
The greater the "karma" the more solid the density. Karma is reified thoughts and mental constructions (tsal); hence first having the mind see the emptiness of all its subjective and objective reifications. A reification is merely a densification of the Clear Light radiance due to a contracting fictional belief collapsed around the conceit of an "I" or self construction.
The fundamental contraction of the Clear Light radiance is the fictional belief in a personal "me" or self. The karmic mind then projects holograms (tsal) of this imaginary self as who you seem to be in daydreams, night dreams and within consciousness as your self image and body identity.
In Dzogchen we call this reversal or conversion back into the Mind of Clear Light; "rulog".
One perfectly fine and workable method is called trekchod, or "cutting through all rigidities" through insight and total relaxation expressed as the "four chozhag" or "let be's". This is like letting the ice cube of Clear Light relax into its own wisdom transparency (zangthal).
For those more energetic we have thogal, which is light years faster and immediate. Immediate meaning "without leaving, your suddenly there".
There is no point in following either approach before twofold emptiness has dawned within the mind*. However thogal will also greatly deepen the emptiness insights as I described in my thogal "quick start" instruction pinned up on my Dzogchen Thogal group.
*Mipham Rinpoche composed a brief text called The Beacon of Certainty, in which he states:
"In order to have perfect certainty in Dzogchen kadag, one must have perfect understanding of the view of the Madhyamaka Prasangika. Kadag, or original, primordial purity, is the view of Dzogchen, and in order to perfect that view, one must perfect one’s understanding of the Middle Way Prasangika view. What this implies is that the view of Dzogchen kadag and the view of the Prasangika school are the same."
"There is something that you do not realize and by the end of this
talk, I want you to have made a start into realizing this major
vital fact - something is being done against you of which you have
You do not know the forces, the enemies, that are working in the
dark to make you as shaky and uncertain as you are. The enemies
exist for that very purpose, to be your enemy, to prevent you from
escaping them and finding what you can find during your journey
here on earth, which is universal truth.
The enemy that is harming you without your knowledge or permission
is both inside you and outside you. The enemy outside is able to
operate so effectively because you have not become acquainted with
the enemy inside. And let me tell you this, even if you caught a
fairly small glimpse of what has been hurting you, been done against
you in the past and what is doing it presently, this is an extremely
important point for you to understand because it will arouse right
feeling, right reactions."
from a talk given 3/1/1989
Vernon Howard's Higher World - MP3 CD Volume 26, talk 642, track 13
Personal identity is nothing more than an identification
between the mind and the image which it has about itself,
an image which is really an abstract of memories of events
in the past.
Indeed, it is this censored and edited imaginary
abstract that is considered to be an individual!
- Ramesh S. Balsekar
"A Net of Jewels"
Ramesh S. Balsekar
Advaita Press, 1996
What is the key to the Short Path?
It is threefold.
First, stop searching for the Overself since it follows you wherever you go.
Second, believe in its Presence, with and within you.
Third, keep on trying to understand its truth until you can abandon further thoughts about it.
You cannot acquire what is already here.
So drop the ego's false idea and affirm the real one.
-- Notebooks Category 23: Advanced Contemplation > Chapter 1: Entering the Short Path > # 92
-- Perspectives > Chapter 23: Advanced Contemplation > # 6 Paul Brunton
It is Saturday night'
imagine, both day and night used in the same sentence..
This night of frivolity,
The soul searches the eyes of others,
for understanding of existence..
Music pushes the mind to connection..
How much can you speak without fear ?..
Truth is hidden because of the fear of the ego..
Truth makes the ego, disappear..
Death is the great fear of all existence..
And yet, the death of the character within the Play is the only escape..
How close to Truth, we are...
During a dream in sleep at night, it seems you are a real character and a self. You have a body, a mind with thoughts and you perform various activities. Does it make sense to think that your dream self has the capacity to become enlightened and to continue to exist as a Buddha doing what Buddhas do?
I hope all would agree that the dreamed "self" is just a momentary projection of mind with no innate capacity or possibility to morph into a real enlightened Buddha. It doesn't matter how many high level
meditations and practices the dreamed self engaged in; it will never morph into being a Buddha. Rather it just vanishes when we wake up in the morning.
But in the morning when we wake up, we notice that we seem to have a body and a mind too. We feel like we are a self with an identity and memories to prove it. However it can be discovered upon investigation that our self identity is also just a projection of mind established by the same subconscious mechanism that produces our dreamed self; both are mere thought-forms that have no independent life of their own.
Sometimes in a very profound state of clarity, the pseudo-self of imagined personal identity, vanishes. In this moment it's known that there is no personal self that could ever become enlightened no matter how much meditation or effort in practice is exerted. It's seen there is no self that could become enlightened because that self is no more than a bunch of thoughts arising from the subconscious.
How does a bunch of thoughts become a Buddha? That would mean that your thoughts about marmalade could morph into fully functional Buddhas! Thoughts about marmalade are no more a self than thoughts that describe a "me".
There is no self to become enlightened! There is no self that is born, lives and dies anymore than your dreamed self is born, lives and dies.
So when people say that "they" are followers of a gradual or a sudden path to enlightenment, please try to contain your laughter.
When the mind ceases generating the "me" self identity, what remains is the eternal Buddha Mind that has no personal identity, and that has never been born or could die or that could become a Buddha again.
So the next thought would be "ok, I get it, now what do "I" do to actualize this insight?"
Ha, ha, ha ... (laughing out loud) sorry, couldn't contain the laughter! What does "who" do??? (more laughter)...
He is not sacrificing so much that is dear to the world for the sake of an empty abstraction,
nor trampling on inborn egotism for the sake of a cold intellectual conception.
He is doing this for something that has become a warm living presence in his life--for the Overself.
-- Notebooks Category 1: Overview of the Quest >
Chapter 2: Its Choice > # 243 Paul Brunton
"A person is in psychic health when he is one with himself, when he
is his own friend.
Perhaps you know people who are separated from
themselves by frantic desires, fearful imaginations, sour attitudes,
by regrets of the past and demands upon the future."
-Secrets for Higher Success, p. 71