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Buddhadharma : Winter 2015
20 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly winter 2 0 1 5 tenzin WanGyal rinpoche: This question is very complicated doctrinally. My sim- plest comment is that first, this teacher’s comment is a generalization. To state that a layperson lacks the proper causes and conditions to achieve realization comes from a particular doctrinal view. There are different Buddhist doctrinal systems, paths, and traditions, and they have varying views on the attainment of enlightenment, or liberation from cyclic existence. There are Buddhist doctrines that state that a person cannot achieve full liberation if one does not maintain monastic vows and commitments. There are even doctrines that state that it is not possible to achieve liberation if one is in the form of a woman. And there are views that state that it is not possible to attain liberation in one lifetime. The different points of view can be summarized in three basic approaches to enlightenment within the Buddhist teachings: sutra, tantra, and Dzogchen. Sutra emphasizes renunciation as the path to liberation. Tantra emphasizes transformation—not avoiding our emo- tions but engaging them through skill- ful means that transform confusion into wisdom. In Dzogchen, the five poisons are nakedly and directly engaged as the way to liberation. For the Dzogchen practitioner, afflictions, emotions, and pain become the ornament or way of exercising the dynamic energy of the enlightened mind. This is the tradition in which I study, practice, and teach. According to the sutric path of renun- ciation, the vows of a monastic are nec- essary supports on this path. If you are a householder, it is difficult to renounce because you are immersed in childrear- ing and commerce, and it is difficult to get rid of attachments. The monastic system is a beautiful and complete path for the one who enters it, but the path of renunciation is only one path. According to the Dzogchen teach- ings, you can achieve full liberation in one lifetime regardless of whether you are male or female or live a lay or monastic lifestyle. Many realized mas- ters and practitioners of the Dzogchen lineages were laypeople, both men and women. And many teachers and teach- ings exist that articulate a path to com- plete enlightenment for the layperson. These teachings have been successfully practiced for thousands of years and are now available in the West. Here, they are followed by mothers and fathers, lawyers and waiters, actors and art- ists, all dedicated practitioners who are intent on enlightenment for the benefit of others. Half of my life I have been a monk, and half I have lived as a lay practitio- ner. Having a wife and child and liv- ing an engaged family life has greatly enriched my spiritual path. Please do not lose heart on your path. I encourage you to connect to your sincere wish to be free of suffering and to live a life that benefits others. Continue looking for a teacher and teachings that will support you to accomplish this. sallie Jiko tisdale: If the teacher had said that black people did not have the proper causes and conditions for enlightenment, would you wonder if he was right? What if he had said that gay people or women or Americans did not? Such things have been said before. There are no true obstacles to full enlightenment—nothing in space or time. How can there be? even a casual reading of the sutras shows us a Buddha of great generosity and kindness, pre- dicting and celebrating the inevitable buddhahood of many beings in many forms. There have always been highly accomplished and respected laywomen and men in Buddhism. A few, such as Vimalakirti and Queen Srimala, have their own sutras. Buddhism is a human institution, created and sustained by humans. The dharma—the truth—is our main con- cern; Buddhism is just a way of talking about it. The practice and the teacher, even the Buddha himself, are tools to help us awaken our original enlighten- ment. If Buddhist practices—or teach- ers—cut you off from the truth, there is a serious problem. The Buddha often advised his lay followers to avoid certain occupations, Treeleaf is the online practice place for people who cannot easily commute to a Zen Center due to health, location, work, childcare or family needs. We provide netcast Zazen, Retreats, discussion, Jukai, the support of fellow practitioners, interaction with a teacher, and all other activities of a Zen Buddhist Sangha, all fully online, accessible anytime, without charge. The focus is Shikantaza “Just Sitting” Zazen. ZAZEN & YOUR ZEN SANGHA online, any place, any time you need TREELEAF ZENDO jundo cohen, teacher www.treeleaf.org Come build the future of online Zen Community and Practice TL-Buddhadharma-notice-v1.indd 1 02/12/2014 10:28:37 a. m. See more at: lionsroar.com/auction Books, CDs & DVDs from SHAMBHALA PUBLICATIONS Teachings that benefit your life.