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Buddhadharma : Summer 2017
summer 2017 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 47 nothing lasts. Body sensations are the easiest place for that realization to start. Although the body seems really solid, nothing in the self-experience of the body lasts more than a moment. From there it becomes easier to understand the emptiness of all phenomena through their momentary arising and passing. BuDDhADhARMA: Daijaku, how does Zen practice lead someone to see the truth of emptiness? DAIJAKu KINST: Zazen is the root practice. Sitting and attending to this moment as a complete manifesta- tion of ultimate reality is challenging and makes apparent what’s happening in one’s body, heart, and mind, as well as one’s surroundings. We strive to be intimate and fully present with how we construct reality, with what comes and goes. Other aspects of training, which can easily be applied to lay practice, are work, relationship, and community life. For example, it’s important to treat objects with atten- tiveness and care. Classically, discussion of work practice has focused on the kitchen, getting into details such as attention to whether we drop a knife on the counter or we set it down. But it’s also notic- ing that how we relate to things extends to working with other human beings. It’s noticing one’s impact in community, how the self is always in relation to others. Those concrete, ordinary experiences are powerful teachers of emptiness. BuDDhADhARMA: Could you say a bit more about work practice and how we engage with objects? DAIJAKu KINST: In the Tenzo Kyokun, Dogen says to treat even a leaf of green as the Buddha. To sepa- rate oneself from objects as if there is a difference between self and other is to ignore the dynamic activity of the moment, which is inclusive of every- thing. When we don’t separate, we are taught by the things of our life. With something as simple as mov- ing in a kitchen, there are other bodies to navigate around, plus knives, food, water—all teaching us constantly. Bringing an attentive, devoted mind to our circumstances allows those things to transform our experience of self and other. BuDDhADhARMA: Ari, how does one cultivate an experience of emptiness in the Tibetan tradition? ARI GOLDFIELD: One important element that Tibetan Buddhism emphasizes is the longing to know who we actually are. If we can follow that longing, it allows us to feel into a deeper relationship with ourselves. Here we discover the same paradox we find in an intimate relationship: there is a longing to know the other and to be close, but the closer we get, the more mysterious the other becomes. If we can direct that longing inward, gradually we appreciate the miraculousness of our consciousness, which is ungraspable. Then we can bring that long- ing and wonder into relationships and see them as a support for us to further grow. BuDDhADhARMA: What are some of the traditional practices that might support that process? ARI GOLDFIELD: What we all share is the sitting prac- tice, which gives us the chance to be in relationship with ourselves as individuals. When we’re sitting on the cushion, we don’t have to do other things. We can just be aware of what’s going on internally. The Mahamudra practice in Tibetan Buddhism, for example, is about opening to the energy of emo- tions, sensations, and thoughts, and to the energetic It can be easy to get a fixed idea about somebody. Seeing the other person’s emptiness helps us not form a fixed view about them. —Guy Armstrong