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Buddhadharma : Winter 2005
buddhadharma| 49 |winter 2005 have is called, in the Theravada tradition, bright faith. You’re sitting alone in a dark, constrained room, and the door is closed. Then, something happens. The door swings open, and you have a sense of possibility you didn’t have before. Most often that moment of brightness first occurs when we meet a teacher. It’s no longer an abstract sense of possibility – it’s a possibility for us. We have a conviction that our lives can be different. So, often, it is another human being who wakes us up to the immense potential inside of us. The glimpse they give us has all the elements of falling in love. It can be quite dazzling. While that’s considered a very powerful and potent state, it’s also just the beginning of a jour- ney of faith, because ultimately that sense of pos- sibility needs to rely not on somebody else, but on our own experience of clear seeing and our own practice. You cannot simply depend on that exter- nal object; that would be out of balance. Your faith and confidence need to be centered on your own vision of the truth. To bring that about, as the relationship deepens, you have to be willing to put things into practice and test them out for yourself. When you explore for yourself, and probe and question, you will enter a much more mature stage of the relationship. Trungpa Rinpoche coined a term for the feeling we have toward another person when we fall in love. He said, we want to “engollop” them, to take them over completely. Is that part of the process of falling in love with a teacher? shaRon salzbeRg: I love that word. Well, indeed, there is the possibility of being infatuated and intox- icated and becoming very attached to the feeling state. We don’t understand that the point is not the feeling but what it points to within us: the capacity to open, to care, and to step out of that familiar, dark room. The point is to have the courage to step out of the room, not simply to have this fantastic feeling. The ways that the Theravada tradition talks about people getting stuck there have to do with getting attached to the feeling of falling in love, of brightness, so that we might not be willing to rely on our own experience of the truth, because we don’t want to risk doing anything that might rock the boat and destroy that cherished feeling. noRman fischeR: The teacher-student relationship is based entirely on the dharma. Although the per- sonal quality is there, it is only in the service of a mutual commitment to the dharma. Wouldn’t it be nice if in all our relationships, each person was only concerned for the spiritual well-being and development of the other person? That would be a beautiful world, but, in fact, it’s usually not like that. Usually there’s a kind of mutual need, a quid pro quo, that is the basis of even the relationships that are most intimate in our lives. PonloP RinPoche: All of the relationships in our lives are based on what we call the interdependent nature, or what some traditions call interrelatedness. The whole world functions and communicates on the basis of interdependence. In the relationship with Often it is another human being who wakes us up to the immense potential inside of us. The glimpse they give us has all the elements of falling in love. It can be quite dazzling. — Sharon Salzberg Tomoko Buddhafield, 1993 Oil on canvas michaelnewhall