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Buddhadharma : Spring 2015
spring 2 0 1 5 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 61 happening other than a film running in front of a light, creating the illusion of a movie out there. The rest is thoughts. And how are these thoughts created? Magically. Samsara, the world, the uni- verse are nothing but magical appearances arising out of emptiness. This is the point of view of the Madhyamaka Prasangika school and its forefather, Nagarjuna, who said that things arise magically, with no substance and no linear cause and effect. Everything is compounded and therefore arises and dissolves moment after moment. Each moment cannot arise without a cause. The primary cause of one moment is the previous moment. But where is the contact between the previous and present moments? If there is contact, then at some given time, past and present have to exist simultaneously. But if two things exist at the same time, how can they be in a relationship of cause and effect? They have to be independent of each other. A barley seed and a barley shoot don’t exist at the same time. The seed has to precede the shoot; it has to cease for the shoot to arise. So there’s never linear contact between past and present moments or between pres- ent and future moments. But while there is no contact between cause and effect, there is no gap between the two either. If the past moment ceases before the present arises—if it is truly gone, nonexistent—then how can it be a cause for the present moment to arise? The pres- ent moment would have to arise without a cause, which is impossible. Therefore, there is neither con- tact nor a gap between past and present moments. They are not one, nor are they separate. How cause and effect works cannot be explained. Yet it does work, very precisely. The world continues to arise, moment by moment. But arising and ceasing are illusory. Time itself is illusory. Magically, everything arises out of and ceases into the primordial consciousness. When we look at the world, our consciousness, and our thoughts in this way, they are already enlightened without us having to do anything about it. From this point of view, even our ignorant mind is enlightened, since it momentarily arises out of yeshe and ceases back into yeshe. Samsara only exists when we are lost in thoughts, lost in their power. We can always center ourselves by recalling that we are in the present moment, knowing it is impos- sible not to be. If we can recognize primordial con- sciousness, that is perfect. If we can only understand relative reality, that is close to perfect. If we can rest in the absolute while seeing the relative, that is per- fect perfect. So all three possibilities are perfect. If we recollect ourselves in this way on a regular basis, at some point the experience becomes ongo- ing. The pith instruction is “short and many”— do this meditation for a short time, many times throughout the day, and the power of thoughts to absorb and hypnotize you will naturally dissolve. You can still continue your life and activities like the mahasiddhas of the past who, as blacksmiths, farmers plowing their fields, or pottery makers, con- tinually meditated throughout the day, practicing short and many. At some point, they transcended time, thoughts, and absorption in thoughts and became mahasiddhas. The same opportunity is here for all of us. We can practice the essence of Buddha’s teachings: in the relative, understand- ing impermanence on a subtle level; and in the absolute, having direct recognition of primordial consciousness. So please, take this opportunity. Sit up straight and just know that you are in the present moment. Both the relative and absolute are profound; either way, you don’t have to feel discontent. Right now you are in the present moment. The whole world is in the present moment. The whole universe is in the present moment—either in the relative, without rec- ognition of the enlightened timeless consciousness, or in the absolute, with recognition. Those who have recognition of yeshe are known as enlightened ones; those who have no recognition are sentient beings, living in the hypnosis of thought. But don’t feel insecure, because you can’t miss it in the rela- tive. And if you can just be with the relative, the thin layer of ignorance that is the nonrecognition of yeshe will slowly dissolve, and timeless awareness will dawn. Timeless awareness is what all beings are. And since the objective world doesn’t exist without the subjective mind, it is the essence of the whole universe.