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Buddhadharma : Fall 2005
buddhadharma| 27 |fall 2005 “One should not identify the capacity with being caught up in subject, object, and the act of perceiving,” he said. “An unconfined basis for experience means the readiness, being able to experience − just ready to be, but not yet involved in dual- istic experience. If your training is in this readiness, rather than in conceptual thinking, you won’t be caught up in dual- ity during daily activities. This capacity, in essence, is the unimpeded omniscience of all buddhas, which is totally unlike the attention that focuses on one thing while eliminating everything else.” WHEN I WAS around twenty, Samten Gyatso told me, “You appear to be some- one who can give mind teachings. You are the kind of person who finds it all quite easy, not seeing how anyone could have problems understanding the nature of mind. You could end up too blasé; then again, maybe you simply will be very con- fident. “Sometimes I think you assume too much. I must caution you that there is one thing you should watch out for: On the one hand, you could assume it is all so simple that everyone would understand. But then, on the other hand, that’s not the way things are. people will often com- prehend something totally different from what you mean, concluding that there is nothing to gain, so that they become care- less and give up. “You feel that realizing the nature of mind is simply a matter of course,” he continued, “but I want you to understand that some people do not know the nature of mind, and there definitely is a reason for that. There are many people whose practice of ‘mind essence’ is nothing more than remaining absent-minded and unaware in the state of the all-ground. “Nevertheless, for the time being, you should go ahead and test your confidence on a few old men and women. You might be able to benefit one or two, so it’s fine for you to teach them.” In this way, he gave me the go-ahead to begin teaching. I started giving peo- ple advice on understanding the nature of mind because I was very talkative. I couldn’t help it; it would just slip out! When I spent time with Samten Gyatso, I listened in on whatever instructions he gave. Often it would be the pointing-out instruction and advice on how to truly meditate in the simplest way. Afterward, there might be some people outside his room who couldn’t quite understand what he had said. They would ask me, “How can it be that easy?” And I would say, “Why do you think it has to be diffcult? It really is so easy.” Then they would reply, “But I don’t get it.” And I’d tell them, “What do you mean, you don’t get it? Just let be!” I had that attitude because I’d heard what my uncle had said and I’d just parrot it. My uncle would then call me in and repeat, “It seems you are the talkative type, as well as someone who thinks that recognizing mind nature is totally easy. I think that in the future you will be like this as well − you will be both talkative and somebody who acts like it is really simple!” And he was right. On one hand, maybe with my teaching style I’m just fooling everybody, making it too simple. But on the other hand, this is really how it is! It is the truth. What is the use of trying to sit and push and struggle, when we can allow the three kayas of buddhahood to be naturally present? Why do we have to strain and contort ourselves into an uncomfortable posture and an uptight meditative state with some hope that in the future, after lots of effort, we may get there? We don’t need to go through all that trouble and tension. All we need to do is totally let be and recognize our nature right now. THE BuddHA rEALIzEd that dif- ferent beings have various capacities. So out of great compassion and skillful means, he gave an assortment of teach- ings, each right for different individuals. Although the essence of all teachings of all enlightened ones is to simply let be, in recognition of one’s own nature, the Buddha taught a wide variety of complex instructions in order to satisfy people at their own level. Another reason the Buddha and the great masters taught the nine vehicles [yanas] is not just that they couldn’t leave well enough alone, but to make everybody happy. It seems to be human nature to love complication, to want to build up a lot of concepts. Later on, of course, we must allow them to fall to pieces again. The great variety of teachings that exist doesn’t change the fact that the very essence of the dharma, the nature of mind, is extremely simple and easy. In fact, it’s so simple and easy that some- times it’s hard to believe! The general tradition for giving the pointing-out instruction to the nature of mind holds that we need to go step by step. First, we complete the reflections of the four mind-changings. Next, we go through the preliminary practices, and after that the yidam practice of deity, mantra, and samadhi. And indeed, these are all still necessary, even if we have already received teachings on mind essence. don’t get the idea that suddenly all the practices taught by the enlightened ones are unimportant. On the contrary, they are incredibly important. Since it’s not so easy nor very common for someone to ever have the opportu- nity to receive mind teachings, I felt that I should speak up and give it. please remember that we can easily receive the other important teachings from various masters, so don’t ignore them. please be diligent in practice. In truth, perseverance makes the difference between buddhas and ordinary beings. There is a story from Kham in which an old guy says to a lama, “When you talk about the benefits of recognizing mind essence, it’s certain that you have no problem; in fact, even this old sinner will probably be safe from rebirth in hell. But when you talk about the consequences of our actions, there’s no doubt I will end up in hell. In fact, I wonder if even you might not be in trouble, my lama!” A phony meditator might be able to fool others while alive, but there’s no doubt he’ll be caught unprepared when facing the bardo [the intermediate state between death and rebirth]. I am quite certain that, in the long run, the greatest benefit comes from simply trusting in the three jewels. Of course, if one also has authentic experi- ence of mind essence, then, as the Kagyü saying tells us, “Though death is regarded with so much dread, a yogi’s death is a small awakening.” I also feel that even if one still hasn’t reached the splendid heights of experi- ence and realization, some simple, sound comprehension is extremely beneficial. An understanding, even intellectually, of emptiness − the empty and awake quality of mind − will surely help you cross over to the other side in the bardo. When sen- tient beings pass on, it is their own mind that becomes bewildered − and it is their own mind that needs to come to their res- GRahamSUnSTein