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Buddhadharma : Fall 2010
buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly fall 2 0 10 28 Anyen Rinpoche is a khenpo (master scholar) originally from Amdo, Tibet. he now lives in colorado, where he founded the phowa Foundation and the orgyen Khamdroling Sangha. he is the author of Momentary Buddhahood and The Union of Dzogchen and Bodhichitta. This article is from his new book, Dying with Confidence, forthcoming in october from Wisdom publications. of being an “on and off” practitioner. If we let our energy get too high, we can expect a counterbalancing low to follow when we lose our enthusiasm. thus, in terms of dharma prac- tice, having a tempered passion is a more useful quality. because it is so easy to deceive ourselves about our practice, it is very important to have a relationship with a spiritual friend who will help cut through any self-deception. but we must do our part to be prepared for and to nurture such a rela- tionship; we must be diligent in our practice and have a real- istic idea of our spiritual goals. self-reflection can bring a new level of trust and mutual respect to an established relationship with a teacher by demonstrating that we are suitable spiritual “vessels,” worthy of receiving profound lineage teachings. We can transform our outer trust in the three jewels—in the bud- dha, in the teachings, and in the community of noble practi- tioners—into authentic confidence that develops unshakeable faith in the buddhist path to enlightenment. I consider the dharma vision, what we might call our spiri- tual aspirations, to be an evolving meditation on living and dying. It makes no difference what stage of life we are in. Practitioners need a guide for living as well as for dying that we can skillfully rely on during our lives as well as at the moment of death. It’s also important to include others in our dharma vision. many of us, wishing to increase our expressions of loving- kindness and compassion, also want to help friends, loved ones, pets, and strangers alike die with the same opportunities for a “good death” that we wish for ourselves. If we do have the wish to help others through the dying process, we must first train ourselves to understand how our own lives move toward death. We must gain knowledge and wisdom about the process of dying that will enable us to use one of the most important moments of this incarnation wisely. then we can make a serious commitment to becoming practitioners who take responsibility for accomplishing the vision of helping ourselves and others to die well. The Need for a Dharma Vision many of us on the buddhist path have heard from our teach- ers that “the path is the goal” and that we should cut through any attachments to results. this is most true specifically on the path of meditation; we should not have hope for any par- ticular experiences or signs of realization in our meditation. hungering for such experiences will only bring us obstacles. nevertheless, without earnest self-reflection and a vision for ourselves as practitioners, we will not really know how to take up the path. In tibet, few monks and nuns receive the teachings of Dzogchen, and even fewer laypeople are introduced to them. here in the West, we expect the highest teachings to be given freely even if we have made little effort in the foundational practices. but it is the yogis who spend years training their minds, using self-reflection as a tool to further their progress, who become the highly realized practitioners. We must be careful about having only the appearance of a dharma practitioner. some students who have received many teachings tell me they are “on and off” practitioners; they “sort of” practice and have little experience. sometimes they are very passionate about their practice for a short period of time. they may burn like fire, but then something or other happens and they stop practicing. they lack certainty about what is the perfectly pure path. We need to abandon this habit Even if you have been practicing for a long time, you may be surprised at what you find lacking. Some students who have received many teachings tell me they are “on and off ” practitioners. We need to abandon this habit. ➤