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Buddhadharma : Spring 2010
The conduct of equal taste sees all of these experiences to be equal, in the sense that they all equally lack inherent existence. They are all equally appearance-emptiness. Because Milarepa realizes this, he sings that on the inside he abides in wisdom—wisdom that realizes emptiness. This wisdom is therefore free of clinging, free from attachment to sense expe- riences as being real. When we think that good experiences are real, we get attached to them and want more; when we think bad experiences are real, we are averse to them and want them to disappear. That way of adopting what we fancy and reject- ing what we do not is completely opposite to the conduct of equal taste. On the other hand, when we realize that none of these experiences is truly existent, the conduct of equal taste naturally follows from that realization. The conduct of equal taste is very similar to the conduct one performs in a dream when one knows one is dreaming. When we dream and do not recognize it, although the sensory objects that appear are not truly existent, we do not know that and we cling to them as being real. However, when we recog- nize that we are dreaming, we abide in the wisdom that real- izes sense objects are dependently arisen mere appearances, appearance-emptiness inseparable, and we are free of clinging and attachment. When that happens, whatever sensory objects appear, they do not cause us suffering. As a result of realizing sense experiences are appearance- emptiness and performing the conduct of equal taste, Milarepa does not think joy and pain are different things. He is neither attached to being happy nor afraid of being in pain. He knows that in genuine reality, joy and pain are equal. Milarepa does not differentiate between joy and pain like ordinary people do, because he realizes their basic nature. Milarepa demonstrated this many times, and it is good to look at Milarepa’s life story to see how he practiced equal taste and realized the equality of joy and pain. At the end of the verse, Milarepa sings, as a way of preventing himself from being arrogant, that realiza- tion of joy and pain’s equality is “all I’ve got!” Freedom from Hope and Fear Outside creations are shining in ruins Inside the freedom from hope and fear shines And in between, I’m not sick with striving or straining, no, no, no! I am not thinking right and wrong are two different things—that’s all I am! MyronBerney The Seven Ways Things Shine Inside and Out A spontaneous song (doha) by Milarepa describing his path of realization Outside my father and mother were shining Inside my all-base consciousness shone And in between, I got this human body complete I wasn’t born in the lower realms—that’s all I’ve got! Outside the scenes of birth and death are shining Renunciation and faith shine inside And in between, I remember true Dharma so divine Nobody close to me becomes my enemy—that’s all I’ve got! Outside my father, the lama is shining While my own knowledge cleans the stains up inside And in between, confident understanding starts to gleam I’ve got no doubts about Dharma—that’s all I’ve got! Outside the six kinds of beings are shining Inside compassion for everyone shines And in between, I remember my meditation experiences No self-clinging, only compassion—that’s all I’ve got! Outside the three realms are shining in freedom Inside the wisdom, self-arisen, shines And in between is the confidence of realizing basic being I’ve got no fear of the true meaning—that’s all I’ve got! Outside the five sense pleasures are shining Inside the wisdom, free of clinging, shines And in between is conduct where everything tastes the same I am not thinking joy and pain are different things— that’s all I am! Outside creations are shining in ruins Inside the freedom from hope and fear shines And in between, I’m not sick with striving or straining, no, no, no! I’m not thinking right and wrong are two different things— that’s all I am! Translated by ari Goldfield. From Stars of Wisdom, by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso (shambhala publications 2010).