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Buddhadharma : Winter 2006
winter 2006| 28 |buddhadharma The Flashing Lance of Dependent Arising The murkiness of clinging clarified Causes and conditions, like reflections Knowing what to do and not, that subtle art These are three which make relations fully free Like a lance that flashes free in the open sky This verse is about the dependent relationships between causes, conditions, and results. When you cling to these things as being truly existent, that clinging is like mud in water, preventing you from seeing what is actually happening. But when water is free of even the tiniest bit of mud, you can see through it perfectly clearly. Similarly, when you are free from clinging to true existence, you are able to see things clearly. In the clarity of your freedom from clinging, causes and conditions become viv- idly apparent, like reflections shining in the water. Like reflections, the causes and conditions of things appear vividly as appearance-emptiness, and you do not cling to them as being truly existent. When these first two qualities are present, the third one arises – a subtle knowledge of what to do and what not to do in relating to these causes and conditions, which you see vividly as appearance- emptiness. In a subtle and precise way, you can abandon faults and adopt good qualities. When these three essential points of dependent arising are complete, dependently arisen relation- ships between causes and results are fully free, like a lance flashing free in the open sky. The Flashing Lance of Enlightened Activity Prayers of aspiration long sent, wakening Whatever’s done contributing to benefit Effortless spontaneous performance These three make activity unhindered Like a lance that flashes free in the open sky In the Mahayana it is important to make many different prayers. We pray that more and more ben- efit will come to sentient beings and to the dharma, and we aspire that our ability to be of benefit to sentient beings and the dharma will increase and increase.2 These aspiration prayers for the benefit of others that we make over the course of many lifetimes accumulate a lot of altruistic positive energy, and when that energy wakes up, when it actually turns from potential into manifest ability, then you can really be of benefit. Before the power of your aspiration prayers manifests, you cannot benefit beings in a vast way. But when it does, then you can do a lot. For exam- ple, when, due to your past aspiration prayers, you reach the first noble bodhisattva ground, called Excellent Joy, you are able to simultaneously send out a hundred emanations, which can benefit sen- tient beings in a great variety of ways. As you progress through the ten grounds, your ability to benefit others increases and increases until, when you attain the level of buddhahood, you benefit others effortlessly and spontaneously. All of the benefit you bring when you are a noble being is the result of the aspiration prayers you have made while on the path. Even when you are feeling physically or mentally weak due to sick- ness, mental agitation, or despair, you can always make aspiration prayers that your ability to ben- efit others will increase. This is one of the skillful methods of Mahayana practice, because even when you are not feeling capable of benefiting others in the present, your prayers will give you increasing ability to benefit others in the future. The next aspect of enlightened activity is that whatever you do with your body, speech, and mind is excellent and benefits others. Everything you do is altruistic. Finally, your activity is effortless and spontaneous; it comes naturally. When these three qualities are complete, the result is profound, unhindered, enlightened activity, like a lance flash- ing free in the open sky. A good example of effortless spontaneous activ- ity for the benefit of others is Milarepa. Once, Mila- repa was meditating in a forest and a frightened deer came running across his path. Milarepa sang the deer a song and the deer lost his fear. He sat down at Milarepa’s feet like a student would sit at the feet of a teacher. Then came an angry hunting dog who was chasing the deer, and Milarepa sang her a song. She calmed down and sat down with the deer like they were mother and child. Finally there came the hunter, Gonpo Dorje, who was an angry person to begin with but became even angrier when he saw his dog sitting next to the deer. He accused Milarepa of putting a spell on his dog and he raised his bow and arrow to shoot him. Milarepa raised his hand and said, “There is plenty of time for you to shoot your arrow, so first please allow for some time to listen to my song.” Hearing Milarepa’s song made Gonpo Dorje lose his anger, and shortly thereafter he became Milarepa’s student. That is what effortless spontane- ous activity for the benefit of others is like. Concluding Verse This tune upon this well-known site in Chungkar That tells of eight whole lances flashing freely Borne on the blessing waves of able gurus Appeared in mind and now has been put to song. This is not a long song, so Gotsangpa calls it a “tune.” He sang it in the well-known moun- tain retreat of Chungkar, due to the power of the 2 Khenpo Tsultrim Rinpoche often teaches that out of all the aspiration prayers one could make, the best is The King of Aspiration Prayers, the Aspira- tion for Excellent Conduct, available at www.nalandabo- dhi.org/bhadra.html. rIchardMIsrach