Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

Living With a Rebel Within

--by Dzogchen Ponlop (Sep 20, 2011)

Your true mind is a mind of joy, free from all suffering. That is who you really are. That is the true nature of your mind and the mind of everyone. But your mind doesn't just sit there being perfect, doing nothing. It's at play all the time, creating your world. 

If this is true, then why isn't your life, and the whole world, perfect? Why aren't you happy all the time? How could you be laughing one minute and in despair the next? And why would "awakened" people argue, fight, lie, cheat, steal, and go to war? The reason is that, even though the awakened state is the true nature of the mind, most of us don't see it. Why? Something is in the way. Something is blocking our view of it. Sure, we see bits of it here and there. But the moment we see it, something else pops into our mind -- "What time is it? Is it time for lunch? Oh, look, a butterfly!" -- and our insight is gone. [...]
This busy mind is who you think you are. It is easier to see, like the face of the person standing right in front of you. For example, the thought you're thinking right now is more obvious to you than your awareness of that thought. When you get angry, you pay more attention to what you're angry about than to the actual source of your anger, where your anger is coming from. In other words, you notice what your mind is doing, but you don't see the mind itself. You identify yourself with the contents of this busy mind -- your thoughts, emotions, ideas -- and end up thinking that all of this stuff is "me" and "how I am."
When you do that, it's like being asleep and dreaming and believing that your dream images are true. [...]
On the one hand, we're used to our sleep and content with its dreams; on the other hand, our wakeful self is always shaking us up and turning on the lights, so to speak. This wakeful self, the true mind that is awake, wants out of the confines of sleep, out of illusion-like reality. While we're locked away in our dream, it sees the potential for freedom. So it provokes, arouses, prods and instigates until we're inspired to take action. You could say we are living with a rebel within.
--Dzogchen Ponlop, from "Rebel Buddha"

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Previous Reflections:

On Sep 16, 2011 Conrad wrote:

Thanks much for the opportunity to respond. The only clarity I frequently experience is my not knowing. I'm very clear about being unclear. I often fool myself into thinking I am clear when I want others to be more like me. Unfortunately, that happens all too often. If I were more clear and more aware that I want people to see the world as I see it, there would be more peace and harmony in me and in the world. I too often wish to change other people rather than see  that I need  to accept everyone and everything as they are rather than change them to suit me. Once again my greatest clarity arises when I am clear about my not knowing, and when I am aware that my awareness is very limited but still fine. I find I am clearer when I remember to forgive myself often.Warm and kind regards to everyone.


How does the rebel within help me develop clarity?"

On Sep 17, 2011 Manisha wrote:

For the past few months, I have been driving to the train station as part of my daily commute to work. Each morning and evening rush hour the roads are packed with people driving from all walks of life on the shared mission of getting to their destination as quickly as possible. Sometimes this involves aggression. Yesterday morning I was in queue at a red light when a man driving a large 4x4 pick-up truck pulled up in the median lane from the opposite direction to make a turn into a plaza driveway. I was directly in front of this driveway and this man was angrily shouting and gesturing from inside his car for me to move back so that he could turn in. I looked behind me and there was not much space to reverse. The light was still red so I couldn't move ahead. I shook my head to indicate "no" to him; even though I could have reversed about 1 foot back, I did not want to yield to this bully. He was fuming inside of his car. When the light eventually turned green, he rolled down his window and yelled a profanity at me. I was not completely shocked since he was very angry but his harsh words stung me nevertheless. They kept on replaying over and over inside of my head. And as they did, I realized that I was witnessing a real-time carving of negative grooves in my mind. Negativities that would become "I am hurt", hurt that would point a finger at "that man who called me a mean name", a desire for revenge that I might unwittingly project onto somebody else in the future, and the amplification of an isolated incident into ripples of violence beyond that street. It became apparent that I needed to both prevent the deepening of this groove and create other more positive ones in its place.

The rebel within, the one who had calmly stood ground in the face of intimidation and force, was now telling me to be compassionate because he spoke those words from ignorance. He deserves to be happy just as much as every being. How do I wish him well?


An friend, who recently told me that in the past lifetimes I was her mother, father, son, daughter, brother, and that I have appeared as everything to her except as her friend, which is now manifest in this lifetime. This man has also been my mother. How would I treat my mother?


In gratitude for this man who helped me to strengthen my awareness of my mind, reinforce the need for kindness in the world, and challenged me to grow in compassion towards myself, him, and others who are suffering. He is my spiritual teacher. How can I thank my spiritual teacher?


On Sep 17, 2011 viral wrote:

 @manisha, beautiful reflection!

On Sep 19, 2011 Ricky wrote:

I first read this after an exhausting week.  It is such a refreshing perspective.  And, for me, the language used and this perspective gave me a light heart.  For the rest of the weekend, I was struck by language and perspective.  It allowed me to look at political rhetoric and discourse as people responding to the rebel within…from the essay “While we're locked away in our dream, it sees the potential for freedom. So it provokes, arouses, prods and instigates until we're inspired to take action.”  I submit that everyone, even those who are ‘asleep’, are responding to the rebel within, and the responses take on very different and interesting looks.


During these past few years of active self study ‘svadhyaya’, I have focused on visualizing Purusha, Big S Self, the Divine within with reverence and deep respect.  However, at the same time, it has been difficult to reconcile this respectful stoicism with what I also know which is the dance of joy and freedom this revelation offers…a certain upwelling of rejoicing we can share with others…a sense of beauty and wonder and aliveness…


The rebel within me has been fully present for a long time.  To my way of reflection, I have referred to it as a red flag.  During my lifetime, this red flag has been hoisted by the rebel on numerous occasions, but by far the most significant is my inability to fully embrace the idea of heaven and hell as places where disconnected souls go…and how we are all condemned to sinful nature when we arrive here.  While the red flag is hoisted, I am immediately struck by how many ‘mentors’ dodge pointed questions about these things based on perspectives formed during the provoking, arousing, prodding, and instigation of the rebel in their own lives.  The red flag comes down each time uncertainty is replaced with grace and empathy, and connecting to the sense that we all have our own experiences, interpret them in our own way, and can move gently through our lives here.


Again, I love the perspective.  I watch teens struggle with this rebel, and what they know to be present within their experiences, and wrestle with this knowledge while attempting to fit into the click or crowd without being found out.  It is their pregnant silence I respond to when we delve into their exploration of the deeply rooted and insistent quiet voice within.  I have gained such a wonderful uplifting look at my own experience through reading this perspective.   


On Sep 19, 2011 Ashok Vaishnav wrote:

 The practicioners of "life beyond' strongly recommend lstening to the voice of subconcious mind, something akin to what happens we are in deep sleep. 

They say that many a times our 'conscious' mind is at the cross purpose with our 'subconscious' mind. 

The great artful skill [maturity  / wisdom?!] lies in ability to choose the RIGHT one, before 'we're inspired [into] to take action'.

Certainly, one must have a REBEL WITHIN which will always provide the whrewithal for maintianing one's inner soul and external worldly wisdom on an always-upwardly direction so as to result in the ULTIMATE happiness at any given point of time.

On Sep 19, 2011 Akanksha wrote:

What a beautiful, beautiful reflection, Manisha. Thank you so much. It has brightened my day with the glow of awareness and compassion. :) Forever, an attempt to rebel!

On Sep 20, 2011 david wrote:

anybody that tells you about me must have told others about

On Sep 20, 2011 JAFFRAY wrote:

Why is it that makes people place themselves lower/servile to the expression of another!?Dzogchen Ponlop-if that is his real name,which I doubt- merely regurgitates from "Rebel Buddha" The simplicity of life,its meaning, for each individual is contained within their intellectual reasoning center! It is from here the life experiences of YOU the inner awareness of the YOU of YOU that gives you the answers required for present existence! No Cohen can enlighten you! No Guru can teach a way that is higher than You youtself dictates! No teacher can teach you poetry! And no one holds the absolute correct answer,truth abou mind.illusion.dreams wakefulness and a never-ending spate of words, which is just 'words'. At all times you need to remember your self! There are a hundred different 'I's in you and most of us are all asleep,what you have within you are those 'I's that present a different face to your daily situations. Know your SELF and dispel with all books,Jesus Christs,Buddhas,Gurus  Preachers who tend to seek superior wisdom over what you now laud, beautiful,wonderful,inspirational,when really it is utter nonsense!! You can draw from silence within your meditative self all the wisdom/wealth/knowledge you require only a fool pays for TRUTH or pays for akk the money-grubbers with their money back gaurantees!!!  Forget about their worthless schemes and formulas it is false. Discern correctly.





On Sep 21, 2011 rachna wrote:

This passage reminded me of how we see our "selves" and our "stuff" (the "stuff" that's in our heads).  The awareness/intention is larger than the thought, emotion, action, etc.  How we are is equally, if not more important, than what we do.  I read this passage and thought of myself reading this passage (me as the reader, and me as the observer of the reader reading the reading).  :)  I'm sorry to miss coming to the gathering of inner-sights and shared reflections, esp. on a day that is regarded as Peace Day ( I know, it's a start as one day.  It's also a day to reflect on global truce/day of disarmament, but hypocritical in that a very probably innocent man is facing execution today (  May we all expand our hearts and minds to include all in love and compassion and forgiveness.

On Sep 21, 2011 Kersley Govind wrote:

A man is the Reflection of his thoughts.

On Sep 22, 2011 Pawan wrote:

“Our mind is a unique system, thoughts, feelings are always there even when we sleep, I wonder from where they come… better to know more about ourselves first…..”  

On Sep 23, 2011 Evan wrote:

Consider thoughts as dreams.  We disregard the dreams we had last night, but believe absolutely in the wakeful dreams that pretend to be all important during our wakeful hours.  In the sleep-state it is widely understood that we are unconscious, but if we believe in our thoughts/dreams while awake are we not also unconscious?  

Consider also that the wakeful unconscious state is infinitely more dangerous because we are in position where unconsciousness can be acted upon and the consquences therefrom have the potential to do great harm.

This is why we practice, to bring the mindful state to our every moment.  It is said that a true yogi never sleeps, even while resting with closed-eyes; awareness prevails.


On Sep 25, 2011 Rajesh Singh Sisodia wrote:

Very nie and in formative article. The rebel with in maks us reactive listener. Hence w should avoid this rebel.

On Sep 26, 2011 Dinesh wrote:

Some audio clips from our circle of sharing on this passage ... 

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