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Buddhadharma : Fall 2013
FALL 2 0 1 3 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 33 On the Vajrayana level, the neuroses them- selves become sanity. Sanity is discovered in the midst of neuroses—we do not see neuroses on the surface and buddhanature as some kind of basic ground. Neuroses are neuroses because we perceive them that way. The moment we perceive them as something resourceful and wholesome, they are no longer neuroses. They become some- thing totally different. If we use the analogy of the rope again, the moment we discover it is not a snake but a piece of rope, we discover it for what it is. According to the tantric tradition, neurosis is just mismanagement of our energy. We do not realize what that energy is and mismanage it, so that energy bounces back on us in a self-defeat- ing process. Is emptiness an intelligent emptiness? Definitely, because the emptiness aspect of mind is indistinguishable from luminosity, which means it is not a vacuity of some kind. People tend to think of emptiness as a vacuity, especially because both Buddhism and Hinduism talk so much about deconceptualizing your mind. However, emptiness here does not mean some kind of vacuity that renders the mind as nothing. It is more like a no-thing, because mind is not a thing. It is luminous. If it were a thing, it would be a solid mass, like a table, and there would be no intelligence whatsoever. Emptiness provides the ground for luminos- ity to take place. Emptiness is the one flavor. It is because of emptiness that we cannot make a distinction between subject and object. There are no distinctions there. The phenomenal world is also seen as the union of appearance, or presence, and emptiness. “Appearance” is a funny sort of word. It means some kind of surface thing, but with something else called “reality” that is behind it. “Presence” is a much better word. Something is present- ing by itself, whose essence is emptiness. What appears is the phenomenal world, but it is empty because it has no real substance. Some kind of interaction or dance is taking place continuously between the individual and the world. The individual person is not a static thing. We are continuously evolving, spiritually and psychologically, because there is the goal of attaining enlightenment. On the objective side, the world is not a static thing either. Continuous change is always taking place. It is a dynamic process, and that dynamism is due to the fact that the phenomenal world is empty. Because it is empty, it is able to change and be in a con- stant flux. Change is not regarded as something pejorative; it has a positive connotation as far as Buddhism is concerned. Hindus talk about lalita, or “cosmic dance.” The dance between the phe- nomenal world and the individual is like that. Critical analysis of all this is done on the Mahayana level. On the Vajrayana level, we do not need to analyze the phenomenal world at all, in some sense. We just look at the world as it is presented rather than analyzing it so much. In many ways, the tantric approach is very anti- intellectual. In fact, it is totally experiential. If we intellectualize about it too much, we will go into the world of fiction again. We might be able to construct a theory out of that, but we will not see the whole thing as it is. There is no substance at all as far as the phe- nomenal world is concerned. We can look at a thing and see that it is changing all the time and has no substance to it. At the same time, the insubstantiality of the phenomenal world is not regarded as something bad. It is just the real nature of the world. It is how the world is. It does not take much of an intellectual exercise to discover that. Even physicists have discovered that a table is not the way it appears. The tantric notion about indivisibility of subject and object is that the world and the subject are not presented to us as subject and object at all. We’re the ones who decide where subject ends and object begins. It is a conceptual construction. How real is the rope in the analogy of the rope and the snake? We might argue that emptiness is more real than appearance. We might say the table is not real because it changes its form and disintegrates, while the emptiness of that table is more real. But we cannot make that distinction. This is what the tantrikas are saying. The emptiness of the table and the table are indivisible, and if we do not see it that way, it is due to our own ingrained hab- its. It is merely the compulsive tendency to see a rope as a snake. Normally, if we see the object as