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Buddhadharma : Summer 2013
58 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY SUMMER 2 0 1 3 can awaken consciousness with the language of the Buddha instead: “Not me, not mine.” Then suddenly my attention becomes objective, and I’m no longer self-referencing. That’s using lan- guage to awaken, which is different than using it to take as a position. Anicca, or change, is standard Buddhist stuff: “Life is changing.” Well, of course it is. It doesn’t take a Buddha to figure that one out! If that’s all it meant, it would be a silly teaching. Instead, we use perceptions of anicca and make them conscious as something that is actually going on in our lives. If I feel inspired by something, the reflection “This is changing” brings me back to witnessing. I see objectively, “Oh, this sense of inspiration feels this way.” It’s in this attitude that we find true peace of mind. We don’t find it in inspiration, and we certainly don’t find it in depression. This is using the Buddha’s teach- ings reflectively, using language and awareness to awaken. What is reflection? What do we mean by that? Reflection is mirroring our experience rather than believing things intellectually with a host of posi- tions. Take something like right speech: speaking in concord, speaking truthfully, speaking beauti- fully to bring about harmony. Wrong speech is making an inquiry around effort and will, very helpful. Not questioning intellectually, but viscer- ally, intuitively, as an observer. That’s an extraor- dinarily subtle attitude to bring forth into life. So much of life calls for our attention—we have to attend to things, organize, shop, deal with problems, and so on. In the meditative posture, when we sit quietly, there needn’t be a sense of becoming (though often there is); there can be a sense of spacious witnessing. That’s a huge lesson in understanding the space of the heart, which is peaceful. One of the dangers of Buddhism is that it’s such a clever system of teaching and so beauti- fully laid out. Its intellectual structures are second to none; they are all very elegant and fit together nicely. This makes it easy to remain engaged with Buddhism just on an intellectual level. I think we all contemplate the difference between doc- trine as something that awakens and doctrine as dogmatic position-taking. Take a simple word like anatta, or not-self. It can be used in a doc- trinal statement that becomes a kind of dogma: “We don’t believe in a self.” For me, that idea just remains in my head, but if I’m in a situation where I’m getting confused and self-referencing a lot—thinking, “Oh, what am I going to do?”—I The two best things I’ve done with my life are becoming a monk and taking care of my mom. When I was being really attentive to her needs from a very natural and caring space in my heart, self-sacrifice came quite easily. PHOTOGRAPHERUNKNOWN