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Buddhadharma : Spring 2014
SPRING 2 0 1 4 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 11 When we learn to stop and be truly alive in the present moment, we are in touch with what’s going on within and around us. We aren’t carried away by the past, the future, our thinking, ideas, emotions, and projects. Often we think that our ideas about a thing are the reality of that thing. Our notion of the Buddha may be just an idea, far from reality. The Buddha outside ourselves was a human being who was born, lived, and died. For us to seek such a Buddha would be to seek a shadow, a ghost Buddha, and at some point, our idea of Buddha would become an obstacle for us. Master Linji said that when we meet the ghost Buddha, we should cut off his head. Whether we’re looking inside or outside our- selves, we need to cut off the head of whatever we meet and abandon the views and ideas we have about things, including our ideas about Buddhism and Buddhist teachings. Buddhist teachings are not exalted words and scriptures existing outside us, sitting on a high shelf in the temple, but are medicine for our ills. Bud- dhist teachings are skillful means to cure our ignorance, craving, and anger, as well as our habits of seeking things outside and not hav- ing confidence in ourselves. Insight can’t be found in sutras, com- mentaries, or dharma talks. Liberation and awakened understanding can’t be found by devoting ourselves to the study of Buddhist scriptures. This is like hoping to find fresh water in dry bones. Returning to the pres- ent moment, using our clear mind that exists right here and now, we can be in touch with liberation and enlightenment, as well as with the Buddha and all his disciples as living reali- ties, right in this moment. FROM ZEN BATTLES, PUBLISHED BY PARALLAX PRESS, DECEMBER 2013 TUNING IN TO ENLIGHTENMENT Anne Carolyn Klein explains how deity practice lets you tune in to your enlightened mind. People tend to be drawn to particular deities. I was introduced to the Great Bliss Queen, which is how Yeshe Tsogyal is known in the Heart Essence of the Great Expanse lineage (Lonchen Nyingthig), through my teachers in that lineage. On one level, the practice is about connecting with Yeshe Tsogyal’s pas- sionate compassion, which is what her red color expresses. On another level, my practice with Yeshe Tsogyal is an exploration of what, in my own energy or psyche, lacks or resists that passion. Geshe Wangyal, one of my first teachers, once said, “We do these practices in order to meet the deity.” Meeting can mean differ- ent things. Ultimately, it means connecting with your own potential for love or wisdom. It’s like you are a tuning fork and the deity is what you are tuning to. And the mantra, which has its own vibration, helps you do that. Musicians use the tuning fork to check for perfect pitch; we rely on a deity to tune in to its enlightened qualities. You’re trying to meet the deity in order to, say, experience what tender compassion really feels like. As part of this process, you might sense the deity in some way that is not exactly sight. It might not exclude sight, though, or it might come in dreams. Your own love for your real nature—not yet understood, perhaps, but somehow glimpsed—is a tremendous moti- vator. You want to touch this enlightened quality because it exists at the deepest level of what you actually are. The practice is a way to fully manifest your ocean-like true nature. Each drop is connected to the whole ocean. One quality brings all of them streaming in. In this context, the practice is profound and deeply satisfying. “Meeting” a deity is easier to talk about than “becoming” one. But the actual word in Tibetan is drub, which means “to accom- plish”—that is, to actually become the enlightened being. That’s what the practice is—to feel that this is who you are. And it is