My teachers described the clear light of mind as self-illuminating – like the flame of a candle, which is both a source of illumination and illumination itself. Clarity is part of the mind from the beginning, a natural awareness. You can’t develop it the way, for instance, you develop muscles through physical exercise. The only thing you have to do is acknowledge it, simply notice the fact that you’re aware.
Nagarjuna said that for a system where emptiness is possible, it is also possible to have functionality, and since functionality is possible, emptiness is also possible.
So when we talk about nature, the ultimate nature is emptiness. What is meant by emptiness, or shunyata? It is not the emptiness of existence but rather the emptiness of true or independent existence, which means that things exist by dependence upon other factors.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama
It doesn’t make sense to grab at the highest teachings and reject the rest. It is the kindness of the buddhas to provide us with a complete path, and the preliminary practices are part of that path. All great teachers of the past have taught the identical message: 'Gather the accumulations, purify the obscurations, and receive the blessings of a qualified master.' In the tradition I represent, the preliminary practices are very, very important. I don’t think that the buddhas and all the past masters have created them just to lead us astray.
When we watch a television program, we have no trouble identifying places, persons, animals, mountains, and so on. Through becoming involved with the program, we identify with what we are seeing and begin to feel an emotional response. Actually what we are looking at are not places, persons, animals, or mountains, but points of light on a tube in a little box. The confusion that is necessary to enjoy a television program is similar to bewilderment or ignorance, where the very vividness or intensity of the images of the mind’s lucidity overpowers the mind.
The three poisons continually arise in connection with three objects. Compulsive attachment arises for objects that are pleasant or useful; aversion arises for objects that are unpleasant or harmful; and stupidity or indifference for other objects. Recognize these poisons as soon as they arise. Then, for example, when attachment arises, think:
"May every bit of every sentient beings' attachment be contained in this attachment of mine. May all sentient beings have the seed of virtue of being free of attachment. May this attachment of mine contain all their disturbing emotions and, until they attain buddhahood, may they be free of such disturbing emotions."
Aversion and other emotions are used in practice by working with them the same way. Thus, the three poisons become three limitless seeds of virtue.
Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye