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Kuntuzangpo: The Limitless Pool of You

In this article, we talk about Kuntuzangpo, a term which comes from the Dzogchen strand of Tibetan Buddhism. You’ll learn the Kuntuzangpo meditation practice from Dzogchen along with some descriptions of it.

Before we begin, it’s crucial to note that ultimately Kuntuzangpo is simply a word, a pointer. Though it’s important to learn the concept, true understanding comes from directly perceiving Kuntuzangpo, which is one of the goals of Dzogchen practice.

Yet it also isn’t a goal. This is already part of our direct experience, and always has been. But we must develop a taste for it. You can try it as you read this article.

Thanks to my Dzogchen teacher, Lama Surya Das, for his descriptions of Kuntuzangpo. I recommend his audiobook Dzogchen Meditation Training for a thorough practical introduction to this advanced Tibetan school.

Let’s start with the basic etymology of the word before looking at what it really means.

Basic Etymology

It’s a simple term. Kuntuzangpo is a Tibetan term that means “all good”. They say samantabhadra in Sanskrit.

It refers to the innate nature of our own mind and of all beings, which we can directly apprehend through meditation practice.

the final step, from the Dzogchen point of view, is to discover the ground of being from which mind arises. This ground of being is often personified as the Primodrial Buddha Samantabhadra or Kuntuzangpo, which means “all-good” or “positive in every way”.

The 14th Dalai Lama

“All good” is a great pointer for the ground of being. It’s all inclusive, undivided, inherently whole regardless of what appears in it. But it is just a pointer.

If you’re ever unsure of what it is, know you can always cultivate contact with it by practicing this meditation. Though the descriptions help, meditation is the heart of awakening to it.

The Kuntuzangpo Meditation

This is so remarkably easy once you truly grasp it. Yet it can take years of meditation practice to develop the taste for non-dual awareness.

This naturally leads from the Dzogchen View of the Natural Great Perfection.

Keep your eyes open and take a comfortable posture, not necessarily a traditional meditation position – natural body is Buddha’s body. Let your breathing be natural – natural breath is Buddha’s breath. Let the body loosen and settle.

Now contact the fullness in all your senses, beyond light and dark, pain and pleasure, perfect and imperfect, outside and inside, me and other. In every blink, in every breath, your body and senses contain everything.

Watch all phenomena – sights, sounds, thoughts, emotions – go by on the stream of awareness as the basic background remains unchanged. Radiate awareness outward, and embrace everything.

There are not two worlds—subject versus object—there is just one taste, and you ARE that; it is all arising within your very being.

Ken Wilber

You are the Primordial Buddha, so take your Buddha seat. “I am Kuntuzangpo, I am all good, all complete, as everything arises, passes through and disappears within me.”

Let’s look closer at what Kuntuzangpo looks and feels like from within, in direct experience.

Kuntuzangpo: My Experience

For me, Kuntuzangpo awareness feels like I’m holding the entire world in my “radiant, transparent eyeball” centred around my head and heart area, like I’m gently holding a basket that contains all phenomena in an endless expanse.

It includes all unity and division, all pleasure and pain, all openings and blockages. Everything is burned in the fire of naked awareness. Nothing is outside of me as I feel the All arise and subside in that giant eyeball.

Lately, this all-encompassing non-dual awareness is related to blinking and breathing.

As I lightly blink, I feel the world collapse and reappear in an instant. It almost feels like I blink the world into existence. As I breathe, I gently hold the world as it collapses and reappears, like rocking a baby. Natural breathing facilitates that endless collapsing and reappearing.

Kuntuzangpo from the Inside

“it’s so close that we overlook it. It seems too good to be true, we can hardly believe it. It’s too profound, so we can’t fully fathom it. This splendour is not outside ourselves, so we can’t obtain it anew.”

four proclamations of Dzogchen from the 19th century

Kuntuzangpo is the natural completeness and wholeness of our mind, body and awareness, and is closely related to Dzogchen, which means the natural great perfection. What is this inherent nature, what does it feel like?

Forgive me if the descriptions seem far-fetched, but this is the best we can do.

You already contain it all. In the blink of an eye, Kuntuzangpo is contained. Buddha says in the Diamond Sutra: “when I was enlightened, not one single thing was obtained that wasn’t already in me.” It already is, spontaneously.

It goes beyond separation and includes it; it is perfect beyond perfection and imperfection. It is neither not one, not two. It’s a “radiant transparent eyeball”, as Ralph Waldo Emerson has it, or a crystal ball.

It’s blank, open, lucid, gorgeous, overflowing, transparent, Fullness and Nothingness. It’s omnidirectional, all-inclusive, a 360-degree sphere of pure Being. It feels translucent, dreamlike.

It is nowness, timelessness. It’s neither present, nor past, nor future. It goes beyond past, present and future, yet contains them all in its spontaneous unfolding. It’s the holy, fully embodied Now.

This is the Buddha nature, but not as a statue or a historical figure. Don’t look outside for Kuntuzangpo – it’s You-dha, You-Duh! Us-Duh! We’re all buddhas by nature – only temporary obscurations veil it – and we are only sleeping Buddhas or awakened Buddhas. This is a recognition of your Self. There really is nowhere to go, nothing to do, nothing to get.

Your Final Reminder

Remember this: Kuntuzangpo is

  • too close, so we overlook it
  • to good to be true, so we can’t believe it
  • too profound, so we can’t fathom it
  • not outside, so we can’t obtain it anew.