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Buddhadharma : Spring 2006
spring 2006| 28 |buddhadharma something is poured on us, it rolls right off, and so we are closed to learning anything new and our arrogance has stymied any opportunity we may have for spiritual growth. as a result, it is difficult for us to be students or seekers, because we have already figured out the journey. our arrogance has sealed us in our wretchedness. In the third case, nihilism clings tenaciously to its views. our concepts are rooted in a school of thought that erases every alternative. notions of desolation substitute for the dharma, and we become conceptual Buddhists, holding our con- cepts of emptiness to be absolute. We find our- selves in a darkened room, mistaking a coiled rope on the floor for a snake, and we are paralyzed with fear, afraid to move, because we are so convinced of our perceptions. Then we become unwilling to risk giving up these views, to check whether the rope is a snake or a rope. We are intellectually stranded in nihilism. fourth, having decided what is real, we deny the very avenues available to us to overcome our false views of the nature of reality. We insist on a “glass-half-empty” view of spirituality, and deny ourselves the very time-tested methods that might liberate us from our desolation. every teacher we meet seems lacking in some way, and so we decline commitment. We refuse to practice; we will not associate with a sangha. We cling to a nihilistic view of Buddhism, and doubt any teaching that offers an authentic journey. This is considered the most dangerous pitfall of mistaking emptiness, because it carries the intention of sabotage for our spiritual development or happiness. Probably the most stunting pitfall is the last. nihilism becomes a kind of narcissism as we isolate ourselves from others and are not able to experience genuine compassion. We cling to per- sonal happiness (or misery), forgetting that all beings desire this. as we cut ourselves off from all beings in this way, it becomes impossible for