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Buddhadharma : Summer 2005
buddhadharma| 27 |summer 2005 and independent self is just a continuous stream of experience composed of thoughts, feelings, forms, and perceptions that change from moment to moment. When we accept this, we become part of something much greater – the movement of the entire universe. What we experience as “our life” results from the interdependent relationship between the “outer” world – the world of color, shape, sound, smell, taste, and touch – and our awareness. We cannot separate awareness – the knower – from that which is known. Is it possible, for instance, to see without a visual object or to hear without a sound? And how can we isolate the content of our thoughts from the information we receive from our environment, our relationships, and the imprints of our sense perceptions? How can we separate our bodies from the elements that it is composed of, or the food we eat to keep us alive, or the causes and conditions that brought our bod- ies into existence? In fact, there is little consistency in what we consider to be self and what we consider to be other. Sometimes we include our emotions as part of the self. Other times our anger or depression seem to haunt or even threaten us. Our thoughts also seem to define who we are as individuals, but so often they agitate or excite us, as if they existed as other. Generally we identify the body with the self, yet when we fall ill we often find ourselves saying, “My stomach is bothering me,” or “My liver is giving me trouble.” If we investigate carefully, we will inevitably conclude that to pinpoint where the self leaves off and the world begins is not really possible. The one thing we can observe is that everything that arises, both what we consider to be the self and what we consider to be other than self, does so through a relationship of interdependence. sTeveheynen All phenomena depend upon other in order to arise, express themselves, and fall away. There is nothing that can be found to exist on its own, independent and separate from everything else. That self and other lack clearly defined boundaries does not then mean that we are thrown into a vague state of not knowing who we are and how to relate to the world, or that we lose our discerning intelligence. It simply means that through loosening the clinging we have to our small, constricted notion of self, we begin to relax into the true nature of all phenomena: the nondual state of emptiness, which transcends both self and other. Having gone beyond dualistic mind, we can enjoy the “single unit” of our own profound dharmakaya nature. The “singularness” of emptiness is not single as opposed to many. It is a state beyond one or two, subject and object, and the self and the world outside; it is the singular nature of all things. Upon recognizing the nature of emptiness, our own delusion – the false duality of subject and object – cracks apart and dissolves. This relieves us of the heaviness produced by the subtle underlying belief that things have a separate or solid nature. At the same time, we apprehend the interconnectedness of everything and this brings a greater vision to our lives. Cultivating a deep conviction in the view of emptiness is what the practice of nyensa chödpa is all about. Nyensa refers to that which haunts us: clinging to the self and all the fears and delusion this produces. Chödpa means “to cut through.” What is it that cuts through our clinging, fears, and delusion? It is the realization of emptiness, the realization of the truth. When the view of empti- ness dawns in our experience, if even only for a moment, self-grasping naturally dissolves. This is when we begin to develop confidence in what is truly possible. We do not deprive ourselves of experience if we forsake our attachments. Clinging actually inhibits us from enjoying life to its fullest. We consume ourselves trying to arrange the world according to our preferences rather than delighting in the way our experience naturally unfolds.