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Buddhadharma : Winter 2013
WINTER 2 0 1 3 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 29 responses. Samsara is no different from this. It operates in the exact same way. So being able to see how it’s all created interdependently, with different causes and conditions coming together to create each effect, is very helpful. Another way of looking at interdependence is to notice how the creation of the objective world depends on the subjective mind. The subjective mind, in turn, depends on the objective world. Right depends on left. Left can’t exist without right. Top depends on bottom, and vice versa. The center only exists in relation to the edge. Good/bad, right/wrong, man/woman—no char- acteristic has independent reality from its own side. Everything is dependently created. Any reality that we project comes from the subjec- tive mind steeped in ignorance and confusion. So we must strive to see the ways in which the world is magical and dreamlike, a mere appear- ance having no reality. This applies to the world and other beings as well as to our own mind and emotions. A bodhisattva who wakes up to this notion, seeing interdependent origination as appearance and emptiness as the nature, also sees why we suffer so much. All of the sufferings of our mind come from holding appearance to be real where there’s no reality, producing false characteristics of permanence, singularity, and independence. If we can use this wisdom to ana- lyze any person, any problem, any situation— noting how it’s created interdependently, how impermanent and illusory it is from moment to moment—then it gives our mind freedom and space to work with. With this understanding, you can also ask oth- ers about a problem you’re experiencing. What are its causes and conditions? How have they come together to put you in a bind? Asking for the perspective of others who have been in your situation can give you helpful hearing wisdom. Then, instead of leaving this as mere hearsay or opinion, contemplate it deeply. Decide whether it’s true, and whether it corresponds with your experience. When you’re finally convinced of how the problem manifests or the situation has developed, then you have both hearing and con- templative wisdom to support your understand- ing. This is all based on the philosophy of how everything is interdependently originated—in general, as well as in your specific situation. Whenever you confront any situation or prob- lem, or anytime you want to move forward, please think first about your intention. If your intention is to benefit only yourself, broaden it to help at least one other sentient being. Whatever you do in your life, whether it’s going to your job, taking care of your family, or attending a retreat, try to enlarge your vision. In your spiri- tual practice, your vision must be one of eventual enlightenment. With a selfless intention to benefit many beings, together with a vision that everything you do will lead you closer to enlightenment, relate to your life’s problems not as problems but as opportunities to advance with the paramita prac- tices. How can I employ the wisdom of interde- pendence here? Based on that wisdom, how can I increase my concentration? How can I apply more diligence with this? How can I cultivate more patience here? How might I develop more discipline? How can I be more generous? What is lacking? What needs to be strengthened? What needs to be brought out more or made clearer? What should the main effort be, and what else is needed as support? Always think in terms of the paramitas. Don’t try to be a solitary genius all of the time. Con- sult others. Gather hearing wisdom and con- template it. Gather contemplative wisdom, and apply yourself in going forward and relating with your problems. In this way, as the method of paramita practice becomes second nature, samsara will no longer feel as it once did. You won’t feel like there’s such a problem with your life. It’s not that there won’t be any problems, but you won’t feel stuck. You can sail forward on the path of dharma, using your own life and situations as field trips for progressing along the spiritual path. We must strive to see the ways in which the world is magical and dreamlike, a mere appearance having no reality. A bodhisattva who wakes up to this notion sees why we suffer so much.