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Buddhadharma : Summer 2012
44 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY SUMMER 2 0 1 2 important to understand that our meditation is a whole-body practice, engaging all the energies that support our minds and its habitual patterns of movement. When we train attention, we are training that windhorse to become more stable and less reactive. This is not an intellectual mat- ter, even though an intellectual understanding of impermanence, patience, or the benefits of seren- ity, for example, can support our development. More fundamentally, we are training the energies on which our habitual mind rides. The language of energy is like the language of love—inclusive and encompassing. Unlike the process of thinking, it does not make meaning through separation and distinction, but through intimate connection. Recognizing how energy participates in our every interaction helps us understand how a path aimed at liberation that is based on qualities of wisdom and compassion also encompasses the things that obstruct these qualities. This is the logos of energy, not the logic of concepts or reasoning. It is also the logos of reality itself. After all, the dharmakaya, the real nature of things, is everywhere. Everything partic- ipates in it, good and bad alike. In this regard its dynamic is very similar to the dynamic, or logos, of energy. Palpably sensing how this energy par- ticipates in everything we do helps us touch the endless embrace that is reality. Failing to access this dimension in a personal way means practice can’t help but reinforce our obstructing dualism. “The stink of Zen” refers to a particular type of dualism, namely our tendency to look down with scorn at those we find less spiritual. Usually, however, these turn out to be people who are exhibiting exactly the tendencies we are trying to squelch in ourselves. When Khetsun Sangpo Rinpoche first taught the foundational practices, or ngondro, to American students at the Univer- sity of Virginia in 1974, he told us that doing these practices intensely could “speed up our karma” and bring on unwanted states, even ill- ness. This was a kindly and potent introduction to the dynamics of the path. He was letting us know that so long as there is anything left to stir, paths of practice will stir them. It is like taking a whirling whisk to a floor. The floor might have seemed clean enough before we started sweeping, then the air gets so thick with dust we can hardly breathe. This means our sweeping is effective. We don’t say, “Oh now the room is dusty, I should stop. I’ll take the broom to another room where it’s already clean.” Yet when it comes to practice, we often do just that. We find ourselves in resistance to seeing the dust, the habitual patterns we need to be scru- tinizing and understanding so we can really get free of them. We may even think it’s skillful not to pay attention to such things. Not understand- ing the inclusive nature of our own energetic sensibility, we fear that acknowledging our jeal- ousies and attachments will somehow obstruct our goal of liberation. But that’s just our deluded dualism talking. The broom must make contact with the dust, the path must make contact with our negativities. Otherwise practice is as mean- ingless as sweeping what is already immaculate. Luckily, the path is designed to bring this miscon- strued duality to light, if we let it. This message is actually there at every level of the teachings. The Fifth Dalai Lama advises us not to look for emptiness beyond the mountain because it is right here. Buddhist tantras teach that our afflic- tions are wisdom in disguise. Dzogchen teaches that the actual nature of everything, including our unwholesome patterns, is primordial purity. ANNE CAROLYN KLEIN (Rigzin Drolma) is cofounder of Dawn Mountain Tibetan Temple, Community Center, and Research Institute in Houston, Texas. She is also a professor of religious studies at Houston’s Rice University and the author of Heart Essence of the Great Expanse: A Story of Transmission. Her forthcoming book, Strand of Jewels, is a distillation of Dzogchen teachings by Khetsun Sangpo Rinpoche. OSCARFERNÀNDEZ Our wisdom and our defilements, our path and our everyday life, are not different things. Our attention need not be split. Our energy never is.