Experiencing total freedom in the spacious expanse of one’s own awareness. And, from that expanse and clarity, performing deeds for the beings of the world with utter meticulousness. This is how final awakening is viewed, particularly in Mahayana. There is careful conduct from a carefree expanse.
In particular, in the context of the Mahasandhi (Dzogchen), the pinnacle of awakening, this is also how one goes about on the Way. Guru Padmasambhava said,
Maintain the view as spacious as the sky.
Yet, in conduct, regard cause and effect
as fine as grains of flour.
It is said that one should descend with the view from above and ascend with the conduct from below.
As for the view, rest in the vast openness of awareness. See all phenomena as a pure play of awareness or as dream-like projections of mind. There is nothing to reject and nothing to accept. By gaining confidence in that view, the yogi cuts through the net of hopes and fears, and relax in the vast expanse.
Yet, as for the conduct, do not ignore the cause-and-effect relations. A yogi masters skillful methods to accomplish the purpose of oneself and others. Seeing that sentient beings cannot tolerate suffering even in dreams, great compassion springs up. Thus one remains meticulous in actions – by non-harming and benefiting others through many skillful methods. Nevertheless, there is no nervousness about anything, because the meticulousness of actions is coming from the ground of the view of the great expanse of freedom.
In the correct practice, there is careful conduct from a carefree expanse. There is the confluence of spacious expanse of mind, and meaningful response to the world.
Many new-age philosophers speak about a carefree life. But, without seeing the concordance between the two – of spaciousness and meticulousness – they fall into nihilism. They preach the high view of going beyond acceptance and rejection. Yet, lacking in skillful methods to ascend from below, and remaining indifferent to causality, they go astray. They slip into an utterly careless life of turmoil. In contrast, when a carefree view is practiced along with a careful conduct, the yogi realizes all experiences to be in one taste, that of great bliss.
Yet others, seeing the faults of careless life, tightly grasp on to the conduct. Though they remain virtuous and avoid harm, their virtuosity does not transcend the mundane. Clinging tightly to the cause and effect view, they do not see the liberating expanse. While they have the strength to ascend with the conduct, they lack the panoramic vision of descending with the view.
As Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche said (Counsels from My Heart),
“(As you familiarize with the view) the fierce, tight clinging that you have to dualistically experienced phenomena will gradually loosen up, and your obsession with happiness and suffering, hopes and fears, and so on, will slowly weaken. Your devotion to the teacher and your sincere trust in his instructions will grow. After a time, your tense, dualistic attitudes will evaporate and you will get to the point where gold and pebbles, food and filth, gods and demons, virtue and non-virtue, are all the same for you – you will be at a loss to choose between paradise and hell! But until you reach that point (while you are still caught in the experiences of dualistic perception), virtue and non-virtue, buddhafields and hells, happiness and pain, actions and their results – all of this is reality for you.”
In a deeper sense within Buddhism, ascending with the conduct relates to the practices of the eight vehicle (yana) from Sravaka up to Anuyoga, and descending with the view relates to the practice of the ninth vehicle, that of Dzogpa Chenpo (Dzogchen, Atiyoga). When rightly practiced, there is careful conduct from a carefree expanse. There is the confluence of spacious expanse of mind, and meaningful response to the world. Such a yogi becomes a holder of crazy wisdom within, and at the same time a compassionate guide to countless beings.
(See Living in Spacious Awareness for a description of how view, meditation and conduct work together towards a life in spacious awareness)