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Buddhadharma : Winter 2006
winter 2006| 30 |buddhadharma dreaming or do not. Thinking about that differ- ence will help us understand these points. Recognizing or not recognizing the dream state makes a difference in whether or not you assert that outer objects are truly existent. When you dream and do not know you are dreaming, you believe that the outer objects in the dream truly exist, that matter truly exists. When you dream and know you are dreaming, you do not believe that outer objects truly exist. This shows that outer objects’ existence comes from conceptual clinging. When you directly realize the true nature of mind, or Mahamudra, dualistic appearances of per- ceived and perceiver are like in a dream when you know you are dreaming; they are self-arisen and self-liberated. As Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye (1813–1899) teaches in his Song of Mahamudra,3 From mind itself, so difficult to describe, Samsara and nirvana’s magical variety shines. Knowing it is self-liberated is view supreme. From mind’s true nature, which is inexpress- ible, shine all the appearances of samsara and nir- vana. Like a magical display, samsara and nirvana appear but are not truly existent, and knowing they are self-liberated is the supreme view. One does not need to try to stop samsara and nirvana’s magical variety of appearances but only to know that these appearances are self-arisen and self-liber- ated. When you know appearances are self-arisen and self-liberated, you have the supreme view. This view of self-liberation sees that the difficult experiences in life are like difficult experiences in a dream – they arise due to clinging to appearances as being truly existent, and at the same time, they themselves do not truly exist. As The Song of Mahamudra continues, Samsara’s great waterwheel is turning, While it turns, its essence is unstained. The confused state of samsara is like a giant waterwheel that is continuously turning, but from the perspective of its true nature, even while it turns, its essence is unstained. In essence samsara does not inherently exist, so it is unstained. It is like walking through mud in a dream; however dirty you may appear, in essence you are unstained. In a dream, at the very moment you experi- ence suffering, the experience does not truly exist. When you analyze wisely you can know that this is how it is; you can gain certainty in it. In terms of actually experiencing it, that will come gradually as a result of cultivating your certainty in medita- tion. And when you reach the first noble bodhisat- tva ground, you realize it directly. Similarly, at the very time in your lives that dis- turbing emotions and suffering arise, in their true nature they do not arise. As in a dream, at the very time disturbing emotions and suffering appear to arise, they do not truly arise at all. The Song of Mahamudra teaches: What arises in its true nature is unarisen, The unarisen is unceasing, And between these two that do not exist, there is no abiding. The true nature of reality is free from arising, abiding, and ceasing. If you think about what dream experience is like, you will gain certainty in this. And like the appearances in a dream, this life’s appearances do not exist while they appear, and while appearing, they are empty of true exis- tence – they are appearance-emptiness undifferen- tiable. As Milarepa sang, E ma, the phenomena of the three realms of samsara, While not existing, they appear – how incredibly amazing! Student: You have explained how this song teaches that ultimately samsara and nirvana are equality; they are undifferentiable. But Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche also said that while acknowledging that equality, we still have a bias toward nirvana. It seems true that while recognizing the ultimate equality, in relative terms we should favor the uplifted over the degraded and well-being over suffering. So how do we hold the ultimate view of equality and the relative need to differentiate at the same time? Khenpo Tsultrim: From thoughts’ perspective, one makes a choice; nonconceptual original wisdom does not make a choice. That’s enough. [Laughter] Is that okay? [Laughter] Student: Could you say more about how the sub- tle art of knowing what to do and what not to do arises from knowing causes and conditions? Khenpo Tsultrim: It is like when the reflection of your face shines in a clear pool of water. You can use the reflection to remove even the subtlest blem- ishes from your skin, to trim every follicle of facial hair, and to make yourself look beautiful. In this way, from the perspective of appearances, there are things to be adopted and to be rejected. From the perspective of the true nature of reality, there is no adopting or rejecting. Student: From the perspective of appearances, how should we subtly adopt and reject? Khenpo Tsultrim: Adopt the actions that benefit others and abandon those that harm others. When the reflections of causes and conditions manifest, you can adopt those that are of subtle benefit to others and abandon those that subtly harm. From the perspective of the causes and condi- tions in your mind, use a variety of meditation 3 Lodro Thaye’s Song of Maha- mudra appears in The Rain of Wisdom (Shambhala Publica- tions, 1980), pp. 81–90. Khenpo Tsultrim recommends highly that students memorize and meditate on the verses in this song, particularly the explanations of the four yogas of Mahamudra on pp. 87 –88, which he says is the clearest exposition of this subject matter. rIchardMIsrach