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Buddhadharma : Summer 2005
summer 2005| 28 |buddhadharma Impressed by the yogi Milarepa’s unwavering confidence in the view of emptiness, the Ogress of the Rock, while attempting to haunt and frighten him, made this famous statement, which illustrates the view of nyensa chödpa very well. She said, This demon of your own tendencies arises from your mind, if you don’t recognize the [empty] nature of your mind. I’m not going to leave just because you tell me to go. If you don’t realize that your mind is empty there are many more demons besides myself. But if you recognize the [empty] nature of your own mind, adverse circumstances will serve only to sustain you, and even I, Ogress of the Rock, will be at your bidding.1 To understand emptiness conceptually is not enough. We need to understand it through direct experience so that when we are shaken from the depth of our being, when the whole mechanism of self-clinging is challenged, we can rest in this view with confidence. When challenging circumstances arise, we cannot just conceptually patch things up with the ideas we have about emptiness. Merely thinking, “Everything is empty,” does little service at such times. It is like walking into a dimly lit room, seeing a rope on the ground, and mistaking it for a snake. We can tell ourselves, “It’s a rope, it’s a rope, it’s a rope,” all we want, but unless we turn on the light and see for ourselves, we will never be con- vinced it is not a snake, and our fear will remain. When we turn on the light, we can see through direct experience that what we mistook for a snake was actually a rope, and our fear lifts. In the same way, when we realize the empty nature of the self and the world around us, we free ourselves from the clinging and fear that comes with it. It is essential that we have conviction based upon experience – no matter how great or small that experience is. Without this conviction we may run up against a lot of doubts about our meditation practice when difficult circumstances surface. We may wonder why our meditation isn’t working. If meditation does not serve us in difficult times, what else can we do to rescue ourselves from the horror and fear we have inside? What about all the years of practice we have done? Were we just fooling ourselves? Was our practice ever genuine at all? In times like these we need not get discouraged Basic Being From “Twenty-Seven Cases of Dissolution,” Milarepa’s song of dharma’s definitive meaning sung to a female spirit. Attachment as patterns, perception, holding on Whenever these appear from the all-base [alaya-vijnana] they appear And when they dissolve, into the all-base they dissolve self-aware, self-luminous, self-liberated too Whenever these appear from the mind itself they appear And when they dissolve, into the mind itself they dissolve The unborn and unceasing and inexpressible Whenever these appear from pure being they appear And when they dissolve, into pure being they dissolve What appears as, is perceived as, and is thought of as a ghost Whenever these appear from the yogi they appear And when they dissolve, into the yogi they dissolve The blocking spirits: magical creations of the mind your own projections empty, with this not realized The yogi takes these ghosts as real, into delusion falls The root of delusion grows out of the mind By gaining realization of the essence of the mind Clear light is seen to be quite free of coming, going too Objects seeming outside, a delusion of your mind And through examination of appearances’ traits Appearance and its emptiness you realize are not two A view involving dualism forms delusion’s base There is no view or theory in reality itself And all of these examples show the character of mind Consider well examples illustrating space’s traits And their point will be quite clear to you, pure being’s reality Then view for you is look into what’s real past thinking mind In the depths of meditation without wandering just rest Keep a flow of natural conduct flowing, don’t let it get lost For fruition toss all terms away, along with hope and fear spirit, claim this dharma inheritance that’s yours I have no time to while away in endless empty songs Don’t think or question more just now, but teach your tongue to rest From Songs of Realization by Milarepa and Other Buddhist Masters. Translated by Jim scott under the direction of Khenpo Tsültrim Gyamtso Rinpoche. 1 Patrul Rinpoche, The Words of My Perfect Teacher, Padmakara Translation Group (Harper Collins, 1994), p. 206.