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Buddhadharma : Fall 2013
FALL 2 0 1 3 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 31 level, however, we see the neuroses themselves as our own sanity. We do not find sanity outside of neuroses. Sanity is found in the midst of our neurotic tendencies. Tantrikas have an expression for mind, tha- mal gi shepa. Thamal means “ordinary” and shepa means “mind.” So the expression means “ordinary mind.” Within this ordinary mind, the passion, aggression, and jealousy that we continuously experience is brilliance and sanity. We therefore cannot make any distinctions at all between the disturbed mind and the mind of sanity. They are identical. It is said, “Trying to look for sanity outside of neuroses is like saying, ‘I don’t like sugar, but I want to taste sweetness.’ ” If we want the sweetness of sugar, we also have to acknowl- edge the existence of sugar. These aspects of mind are indistinguishable, and the experience of bliss and a tremendous sense of freedom arise from that. We no longer have to make distinctions within our own mind, saying, “This aspect is good so I have to cultivate it, and that aspect is bad so I have to destroy it.” When that conflict is resolved, bliss begins to take place naturally. This bliss is not something additional to what already exists; it is discovered as another aspect of our own mind. These three aspects of mind are indispensable in the tantric tradition. The TanTric View of Phenomena Tantric texts often talk about “the union of bliss and emptiness” or “the union of luminosity and emptiness” when they describe mind. That is the subjective side of the whole thing. On the objective side, when we talk about our percep- tion of the world, it is described as “the union of The luminosity of mind is not something that is discovered outside of our ordinary experience. emptiness and appearance.” Relative and abso- lute truth can be defined as how things are pre- sented to us and how they are. But the union of emptiness and appearance means we can’t make that distinction between how things appear and how things are. If a tree is present in our visual sense, that is how it appears. But the essence of that tree is emptiness. We cannot make a distinc- tion between those two. We tend to underplay the importance of appearance and make a big deal out of essence, thinking the essence is more important than the appearance of things. But on the tantric level, we do not distinguish between the appearance of things and the essence of things at all. That is why it is called “the union of emptiness and appearance.” We do not reject the world as it appears by saying, “It is just an illusion, it is just a dream, it is nothing. There is some kind of occult phenomena behind appearances called ‘emptiness’ and we must strive to attain that.” Things appear in the form of emptiness. Those two things cannot be distinguished at all. The moment we see that directly is the moment we begin to properly appreciate the phenomenal world as it is. We begin to experience what tant- rikas call “sacred outlook.” We see the phenom- enal world as it is rather than as we would like to see it. We begin to see the richness and the splendor of the presentation. The next situation to consider is connected to the concept of union or indivisibility, which is called “one-flavoredness.” We can no longer talk about samsara and nirvana as two poles, or about absolute and relative truths as two realms. No pole is superior to the other. Nirvana is no longer regarded as superior to samsara, and confusion is no longer regarded as inferior to enlightenment. Samsara and nirvana have one flavor, and confusion and enlightenment have one flavor. TRALEG KYABGON RINPOCHE (1955–2012) was a meditation master in the Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism and founder of E-vam Buddhist Institute in Melbourne, Australia, and E-vam Institute in Upstate New York. He was the author of several books, including The Influence of Yogacara on Mahamudra, The Practice of Lojong, and Mind at Ease. This article is from a new book of his teachings, The Four Dharmas of Gampopa, published by KTD, 2013. LIZAMATTEWS