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Buddhadharma : Fall 2014
22 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY FALL 2 0 1 4 perceive as reality, the less we find. The opposite is also true: the less we investigate and feel the nature of things, the more solid the mere I and phenomena can feel. A mantra that’s helpful to repeat in situations where we feel hooked by our clinging to phenomena is: It feels real, but it is not true. The label of mere I is simply an imputation, or conceptual designation, that we make on the basis of the temporary aggregation of parts called the five skandhas. The crux of the problem is that we have a very basic root misconception about all this. Why? Because when we assign an intrinsic or true reality, we reify the mere I (and phenomena) due to our fixating tendencies and habits accumulated over countless lives. Why does our sense of self feel so real, per- manent, and solid? It’s because we have frozen the naturally light, fluid, and open experience of the mere I, creating endless arrays of conceptual boxes. Even when we investigate and see that all phenomena, including the mere I, lack real existence, we typically do not feel it—it remains in the head and can have a cold, arid, lifeless quality that is not fundamentally transformative. The reified I changes with new information but does not transform. We try repeatedly to change our lives and do this and that practice, but we continue to get stuck and frustrated; then we end up going the wrong direction and losing our way. This is because the cognitive mind, so strongly developed and employed in the speedy modern world, can know feelings but does not feel the feelings fully. So like a bird with one wing trying to fly, we don’t get very far. We need to train and educate the clarity aspect of mind in harmony with the subtle body, the underlying nature of which is essence love. The Tibetan term for essence love is nying-je, which is translated as “noble heart” or “lord of the heart.” It refers to a quality of heart that is completely unconditional and free from all attachment. This kind of love—a spark of buddhanature that resides within all of us—is contrasted with con- ditional love, which is based on various levels of giving and receiving love. Essence love is the pure feeling within and behind all conditional feel- ings. Once we connect again and again with this essence love, having cultivated a nonjudgmental mind, our dharma practice can be authentic and life changing. Otherwise there is the danger of using dharma as a kind of pretense, a game of self-deception. Over time, all of us can learn to dance and feel the rhythms and movements of the heart and the head, wisdom and compassion, thinking and feeling, and ultimately that of the absolute in the relative and relative in the absolute. Through practice, conceptual grasping mind recedes, revealing the natural and luminous mind that knows the indivisibility of the two truths.