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Buddhadharma : Fall 2014
46 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY FALL 2 0 1 4 We might be surprised to discover the number of wrong views we hold and the stubborn tenac- ity with which we hold them. When someone challenges our wrong views, we become upset and defensive. We may even disparage dharma teachings when they do not agree with our opin- ions. The chief wrong views hold to the two extremes: absolutism and nihilism. Absolut- ism reifies the way in which phenomena exist, whereas nihilism negates aspects of their exis- tence. While all persons and phenomena are empty of independent existence, absolutism holds that they exist independently, with their own inherent essence. Nihilism goes to the other extreme, disparaging the functioning of cause and effect. Adhering to either absolutism or nihilism prevents us from properly understanding both the ultimate nature and the conventional nature of phenomena. The Middle Way view enables us to distinguish accurately between what exists and what doesn’t, and to know what to practice and what to abandon. Binding embodied beings in the unbearable prison Of cyclic existence with no freedom, It locks them in craving’s tight embrace: The chain of miserliness—protect us from this danger! Craving for the enjoyments of cyclic existence and the miserliness it produces chains us to suf- fering. We cling to our possessions, unable to part with them, and hoard our knowledge. It’s easy to think we’re generous and magnani- mous when we read this. We say to ourselves, “I’m not attached. I’d be happy to share whatever I have with others.” But should somebody ask us for our lunch, we may respond, “No, I’m hun- gry!” Or if somebody took our shoes from out- side the meditation hall, we would be upset. Believing that possessions will bring us secu- rity in cyclic existence, we fear that if we give things to others, we won’t have what we need. In fact, our miserliness keeps us bound in a prison of discontent. We constantly crave more and bet- ter, never satisfied with what we have. Nonclinging and generosity are the antidotes to miserliness. With nonclinging we don’t con- ceive of material possessions as a reliable source of happiness or as an indicator of success. We discover contentment, a rare “commodity” in our materialistic society. Contentment allows us to cultivate the love that wishes others to have happiness, which in turn stimulates the mind that takes delight in giving. Giving with an open heart brings us joy and directly benefits others. Sweeping us in the torrent of cyclic existence so hard to cross Where, conditioned by the propelling winds of karma, We are tossed in the waves of birth, aging, sickness, and death: The flood of attachment—protect us from this danger! Like a flood, attachment sweeps over us, pro- pelling us helplessly into the stormy ocean of cyclic existence. Under the influence of attach- ment to people, possessions, praise, power, and reputation, we harm others to get what we want. Our destructive actions create conflict and leave karmic seeds that produce suffering later on. In addition, at the time of death, strong attachment arises and we cling to our body and life. When we realize we cannot hold on to them, attach- ment then grasps another body and life, and rebirth occurs. When requesting Tara to free us, we are actually calling upon our inner Tara—the seeds of our own wisdom and compassion. ➤ continued page 80