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Buddhadharma : Fall 2005
buddhadharma| 45 |fall 2005 fabric of reality, but it can also simply counteract our tendency to always seek some reason outside of ourselves for why things go wrong. dropping that habit can provide tremendous relief. aLan waLLaCe: The import of this saying is not look- ing at all the disasters in the world, earthquakes and so forth, and saying all of those are my fault. rather, wherever there is suffering, since each sen- tient being is the center of their own universe, the suffering they are experiencing is stemming from their attachment to the self. But it is not saying that everything is blamed on one’s own self. That would just be flat-out silly. That notion is kind of hilarious. Ken MCLeod: i am not sure that it is flat-out silly. when teaching lojong, i have said that straight on. i tell people, “everything that is wrong with the world, everything that is wrong in your life, every- thing that is wrong in your town, everything that is wrong in your family and country, everything is because of your grasping and sense of self.” what happens is that people feel totally overwhelmed. Completely overwhelmed. and in that opening compassion can arise. aLan waLLaCe: it was Thich nhat Hanh who com- mented, when he was looking at some terrible, terrible genocide that was taking place in africa years ago, “i am the torturer, and i am the tortured one.” He was exhibiting this very spacious sense of his own personal presence in the world, such that he could see both the torturer and the tortured as part of his own presence here, transcending the limitations of any conventional self that is a cer- tain number of years old and has an ethnicity and all of that. Judith Lief: i think one thing that’s interesting about this slogan is that there is a sense that there is no other reality; there is nothing from which we are totally separate. Taking the blame onto one- self is not structurally all that different from the bodhisattva vow to save all sentient beings. if you can take all blames onto yourself, then you can actually generate compassion for all beings. it’s the same sense of no separation. buddhadharMa: since Buddhist practice clearly has goals, what is the importance of the injunction “abandon all hope of results”? Ken MCLeod: i’ve always thought that “abandon all hope, ye who enter here” could be the inscription on the doors to awakening, not the doors to hell. aLan waLLaCe: when i was on retreat some years ago, my teacher kind of scolded me at one point, saying, “alan, you are practicing with too much desire.” i was surprised. i told him i wasn’t think- ing about sex or money or fame or any of that. He said, “no, i’m not talking about those things. You’re practicing with too much desire for the practice itself.” He reminded me that one must do the practice with no anticipation of it turning out this way or that way, but still i wondered about the countless prayers in Tibetan Buddhism where one aspires to enlightenment. Bodhicitta itself is an aspiration. He kind of chuckled and said, “Those prayers are to be done between sessions.” while practic- ing, we just let the mind settle. it is important to have great aspirations, but the clinging kind of hope is what we need to abandon. Judith Lief: To me, this encapsulates the dilemma we see throughout all the Buddhist teachings i have ever heard. one moment you will be told, “Practice hard, hold your discipline, and main- tain strong posture,” and the next moment you are told, “relax and just let things hang loose.” You are told, “Try to be enlightened, but don’t be attached to gaining anything.” it’s Buddhist humor. if you have ever had to do something hard and geared yourself up to try to do it, you find that the gearing up begins to get in the way. at a certain point, when you actually end up fully engaged in something – manual work, writing, whatever – you do abandon all hope of results, because you just do what you are doing. The hope seems intimately connected with fears of goofing up and not achiev- ing results. all that gets in the way, so why not abandon it? This slogan kind of rattles around in our mind and makes it abundantly clear how we always cook up hopes for results before we have hardly even done anything at all. over and over again, our hope for results immediately transforms into our fantasies of ourselves having achieved the results. This slogan puts a mirror to that. it is a tool for our mindfulness that lets us know how, in the slightest little thing we do, we start fixating on the goal and miss out on what is actually going on moment to moment. aLan waLLaCe: From an ultimate perspective, there is nothing to be transformed, nothing to be thrown off, and nothing to be acquired. The essential nature of awareness is primordially pure and all that needs to be done is to unveil it and to be perfectly present with it in the present moment. on the other hand, we have thousands of skill- ful means and teachings about transforming our- selves, and we can apply criteria to determine whether we are getting any result, such as the saying “all dharma is included in one purpose.”