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Buddhadharma : Summer 2005
buddhadharma| 63 |summer 2005 There are certain people who some think are enlightened. The problem with the word “enlight- enment” is what you mean by it. A Zen master gave an example, which Huineng and others would have repudiated, but it explains what we mean by enlightened and enlightenment. It’s about using the mind as a mirror, and having dust. This is a good example because it shows what we’re talking about. If you put a little pin in the middle and you make a little space, a little circle, then the nature of the mirror shines through. Now you know the mind is not dust, that behind that dust there is this mirrorlike nature of the mind. If it’s a big enough hole, you might be so transfixed by the hole that you don’t notice the rest of the dust. So you think you’re enlightened. But as my lama said, when you realize the intrinsic nature of the mind, then you start to meditate. That’s not the end; it’s the beginning. It’s only when all the dust is gone from the mirror, and there is only mirror, that we’re really enlightened. So that’s a lot of work. Some people get very deep experiences and they think they’re enlightened. But that’s not enlighten- ment; that’s just some realization. Realization is wonderful, but you have to expand it until there’s not a single defilement left in the mind and the mind is completely open and spacious. Even in that condition, you still use the relative mind. The Buddha himself said, “I still use conceptual think- ing, but I’m not formed by it.” How do you think you have affected the world by re-entering after many years in retreat and shar- ing your knowledge with us? I don’t think I’ve changed anything, but I hope that by my talks I have encouraged people in their prac- tice. That’s as much as any of us can do. Most of the people I talk to are not going to go off and live in a cave. Why should they? So I talk about how people can stop separating dharma practice – going on retreats, going to dharma centers, hearing talks, reading books – from family and social life, which they consider ordinary, mundane activity. We need to transform those ordinary, daily activities into dharma practice, because otherwise nothing is going to move. It’s very important to realize that with the right attitude, a little awareness, and skillful means, we can transform everything – all our joys and sor- rows. The dharma is every breath we take, every thought we think, every word we speak, if we do it with awareness and an open, caring heart. Tenzin Palmo with nuns at Dongyu Gatsal Ling nunnery in Tashi Jong, India.