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Buddhadharma : Spring 2010
buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly spring 2 0 10 84 that this is in fact how things are. In meditation we rest in that certainty. We cul- tivate that certainty again and again. Then we can begin to experience equal taste. That is how the process works. For beginners, which means all ordinary sentient beings, we who are not noble bodhisattvas, there is no direct realization of equal taste. Beginners can, however, make preparations that lead to direct realization by listening to teachings about equal taste and reflecting on it. Through these two activities of listening and reflect- ing, we develop our knowledge of the true nature of reality, and we can give rise to certainty that this is really the way it is. Then when we meditate we can start to gain some experience of it. When this experience becomes direct realization, one becomes a noble bodhisattva. Think about the stages of the dream: when you do not know that you are dream- ing, when you know that you are dreaming, and the ultimate nature of the dream. Thinking of the dream example will also help you to gain certainty. When your teacher gives you the instructions pointing out the nature of your mind, how is it possible to ascertain the difference between “getting it” and just fantasiz- ing about getting it? If the true nature of reality could really be pointed out, it would be some truly existent and identifiable entity. But it is beyond that. The true nature of reality transcends being an object of recognition, so it cannot actually be pointed out. Therefore, the true nature is beyond “getting it” or not. Pointing out instructions are only given in traditions that assert self-awareness. Therefore, when these instructions are given, what is pointed out is just your own mind experiencing itself. So you can look at your own experience of your mind to see whether you recognize its true nature. But remember that there is nothing really there to get, and no one really there to get it or not. The true nature of mind is beyond that. The Eighth Karmapa, Mikyo Dorje, taught that if you have very clear certainty that your mind does not truly arise, abide, or cease, that is what it means to “rec- ognize” your mind’s true nature; that is what it means to “get” the pointing out instruction. His definition of recognizing mind’s true nature is in harmony with the middle turning of the wheel of dharma’s teachings. From the perspective of the traditions that assert self-awareness and self-arisen original wisdom, what is pointed out is self-experience that is nondual (meaning that there is no perceived object and no perceiving subject) and nonconceptual and unconfused. How is this done? The teacher might ask the student: “Do you have happiness? Do you have suffering?” If the answer is “yes” then the next question is, “What is that joy like? What is that pain like? Others cannot experience your joy and pain, so you describe it.” Very quickly, the student recognizes that their mind’s experience of happiness and suffering are actually inexpressible. Then the teacher says, “Rest in that inexpressible self-experience.” That is how nonconceptual and unconfused self- awareness is pointed out—that is how to recognize it and how to rest within it. 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. ➤ continued from page 51 The Sweet Light photography workshop/tour June 19-27, 2010 with Frank Grisdale of www.LaBellaVitaArts.com TUSCANY The Tuscan hills. The Mediterranean. Wine country. Florence. Rome. And a chance to dip your toe in a different world. Experience Italy as you capture its wondrous images.