Dzogchen Meditation: The Cosmic Joke and Co-emergent Twist

Dzogchen, the Cosmic Joke and the Co-emergent Twist

By Tashi Armstrong

In “The Myth of Freedom” Trungpa Rinpoche compares the game or illusion of ego to a cosmic joke. Through mental projection, fixation and habitual discursiveness we create an hallucinatory world that we take to be real. In our hallucination we think we have a sturdy floor which extends out in all directions only to find ourselves falling off repeatedly:
“The attempt to confirm our solidity is very painful. Constantly we find ourselves suddenly slipping off the edge of a floor which had appeared to extend endlessly. Then we must attempt to save ourselves from death by immediately building an extension to the floor in order to make it appear endless again. We think we are safe on our seemingly solid floor, but then we slip off again and have to build another extension. We do not realize that the whole process is unnecessary, that we do not need a floor to stand on, that we have been building all these floors on the ground level. There was never any danger of falling or need for support. In fact, our occupation of extending the floor to secure our ground is a big joke, the biggest joke of all, a cosmic joke. But we may not find it funny: it may sound like a serious double cross.”
 
From the perspective of genuine or authentic spirituality the moment that we fall off the edge of our projected reality is the moment of the realization of egolessness which is simply the reality of our experience. There is a little trick that we have been playing on ourselves since beginningless time which this passage on the cosmic joke illuminates perfectly. The game or joke of ego is not a particularly subtle one but unless you have an authentic guru it is almost impossible to see through it. That is why spiritual materialism is such a problem. Take the mindfulness movement for example: It is simply dwelling in a pleasurable, peaceful state brought on by the use of concentration techniques to stop the mind from “thinking.” 
The theistic approach is to make a big deal out of EGO or whatever is keeping us from the holiest of the holies—God, Christ Consciousness, Nonduality. So practitioners in these traditions talk about the annihilation of Self – or the punishment of self – which is all just another game. " Let’s make a big deal out of ego"—when actually there is nothing there when you look. 
It’s not a big battle between good and evil. 
The truth is that ego is nonexistent. We suffer. Why? Because we discover that our projections are not solid. That’s the truth. But what is the experience of falling off the floor? If we hold off on our panic for a moment and the attempt to re-establish our endless floor we discover the one-taste of nowness. This is how we should understand the formal practice of Shamatha/Vipashyana meditation which is how we discover how to hold our seat in the experience of non-reference point. This is the profound meaning behind the Regent's poem "Song of Cheerfulness."

Song of Cheerfulness

Hoisting the victory banner of the conquerors
I make this proclamation—
That which has no origin can never be destroyed.

Dancing on the corpse of ego
I enjoy the play of phenomena—
That which is originally pure can never be corrupted.

Remaining intoxicated by the amrita of my guru’s blessings
I am cheerful for no reason—
Pleasure and pain are one in mahasukha.

Listening to the ravings of my own mind
I am once again reminded of the cosmic joke—
What a precise and jewel-like instruction
The flute-like utterance, “It’s up to you.”

Vajra Regent Osel Tendzin
Newton, Massachusetts
17 January 1989