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Buddhadharma : Spri 2013
28 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY SPRING 2 0 1 3 acts when we’re aware of and participating in that vast enlightenment manifesting as us. It’s not transcendent of our ordinary way of being; it’s more like we’ve been living in two dimensions, and now there are three. Strawberries still taste like strawberries and harsh words are still harsh, but now we’re aware of how everything interper- meates everything else, and that even the most difficult things are lit from within by the same undivided light. For one woman, this revelation began with what she called the dark side of the moon, when she saw the light in the most broken places inside us, the places from which we’re capable of caus- ing great harm; as someone in a helping profes- sion dealing with the effects of that harm, she found this painful to accept. Then the bright side of the moon appeared, illuminating the great joys of her life. Finally she saw that it was “all moon,” with nothing left out, a realization both shattering and healing. This experience of nothing being left out applies to ourselves as well. A thousand years ago, a Japanese woman wrote: Watching the moon at dawn, solitary, mid-sky, I knew myself completely: no part left out. —Izumi Shikibu The sense of exile falls away as we experi- ence how everything interpermeates everything else. Great Ancestor Ma of China assured his students that “for countless eons not a single being has fallen out of the deep meditation of the universe.” The self that once seemed so inevitable and so separate becomes fluid, able to participate in the constant flow of circumstances. In contrast to enlightenment, awakening feels more like an unfolding process, which might explain why over time the ways of referring to it differentiated and proliferated: liberation, seeing one’s true nature, being purified and per- fected, attaining the Way, opening the wisdom eye, undergoing the Great Death, and becoming intimate, to name just a few. There’s a sense of a path of awakening we’re walking from first breath to last, and probably before and after and to spread that grace to the world around us. So we should pause to talk a little about what we’re talking about. The term “enlightenment” is used to translate a variety of words in various Asian languages that, while closely related, aren’t exactly identical. Most fundamentally, enlighten- ment refers to the Pali and Sanskrit word bodhi, which is more literally “awakening.” “Enlightenment” has an absolute quality about it, as though it describes a steady state, something not subject to time and space or the vagaries of human life. We imagine that once over that threshold, there’s no going back. In Buddhist terms, the way things really are is enlightenment, and our experience of the way things really are is also (the same) enlightenment. It is the vast and awe-inspiring nature of the universe itself, and it is the way each of us thinks, feels, and Yeshe Tsogyal by Drolkar Tsekyi