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Buddhadharma : Fall 2007
fall 2007| 44 |buddhadharma of one person, or one person’s idea; it has been developed throughout generations. The drowsi- ness and sleepiness and confusion and extreme heavy-handed disciplines you go through bring out the underlying light and clarity within your being. It’s not particularly exciting or beautiful at all; it’s a big drag. Your clumsiness and your lazi- ness and every worst thing you could ever think of is being brought up. A big joke is being played on you, and at the same time, there is constantly room for prajna. The only thing that keeps you in such a setup is your romantic notion toward the practice and discipline – your heroic approach to the path. Then there is the secret that only you know, or maybe only you and your teacher know, which is that a very secret and subtle love affair is taking place. You want to go on, and you are getting something out of this. That is prajna, that you are getting something out of this. It is very smart and very businesslike. Halfway through, you wake up in the morning and you see the morning star. You say, “Ah, it’s morning; that’s the morning star,” then you fall back to sleep. Seeing the morning star is a glimpse of prajna. But you’re still too lazy to write down, “I saw the morning star when I woke up in the morning.” You think, “Never mind about that.” The prajna that the Zen people talk about is trying to catch yourself halfway through. It’s almost a kind of subtle double take. You are just about to be confused, then you – Ahhhh! [Trungpa Rinpoche draws in a breath] Something happens! Then you go on confusing. But then, something else comes up. There is a little jerk taking place constantly. There are little glimpses, little crumbs of light-handedness in the midst of the enormous black robes, black zafus, and the black heavy- handed environment that goes on in Zen. It’s very interesting to see that the way in which Zen people seek prajna is extraordinarily precise. We could say that it is much more accurate than those logicians in Nalanda or Vikramashila. Zen has a more organic, more definite, more direct way of approaching the underlying glimpse of prajna. In Zen, prajna is only a gap; there is no chance to redefine prajna in any way at all. Prajna simply means, “transcendental knowledge.” Pra is “tran- scendent,” or “supreme”; jna means “knowledge.” So prajna is the wisdom of knowing; it is to know who you are and what you are. One of the problems with such an approach and experience is that however much you talk about the sameness between samsara and nirvana, between that and this, between prajna and non- prajna, still you are subject to choice. Although you say, “Not here, not there, it’s everywhere,” you are still going from here to there. There is the awareness that you are making a particular journey, and that journey is going to lead you through a certain process. You have no chance to speculate more than that, because you are hassled by your schedule, your practices, and your mind- fulness of details, which cuts down unnecessary bullshit, you might call it. We could say that the Zen approach is a begin- ner’s point of view – like a Heath Robinson illus- tration of a pancake machine – of how to produce prajna in an ordinary person who is confused but still inspired. Latching onto that process is based on a combination of a Mahayana spirit and Hinayana discipline. That seems to be one of the basic points of the Zen tradition of Japan, as much as we know. There also seems to be a faint empha- sis on goodness, being good. A notion of being morally pure and kind and precise goes along with it always. Processes such as recycling your food or eating your meal completely and cleaning your plate are very general examples of the Mahayanist attitude of not polluting the universe. Bodhisattvas should not become a nuisance to other sentient beings; moreover, you should save them. Precision and Vastness Tantra is generally referred to as the vehicle that provides instant enlightenment. Its means and its method are the various meditative practices and techniques. Here again, we can only see or relate to these techniques and methods as landmarks. We are discussing tantric experience rather than tricks, such as the notion that merely by applying certain applications we are going to attain enlightenment. So the highlights, and what are related to the highlights, provide the most important under- standing of tantra. As a typical example, there is a tantric expression: one taste, or one value. The notion of one taste has the sense of being here now and relating with what is there. In other words, being more aware of the landmarks of your life, rather than regarding all things as schooling, purely an educational system you are going through. We could compare tantra with what we dis- cussed previously about the Zen tradition – that Zen deliberately tries to provide chances to under- stand prajna, to realize prajna, and to develop the prajna principle within you through the appli- cation of certain physical disciplines. The Zen approach of trying to be here now seems to be slightly different from the tantric approach. In the Zen tradition, being here now is still relating with a journey or a process. Keeping to a certain schedule provides a fixed attitude to life – almost to the point of acknowledging yesterday, today, and tomorrow, rather than purely acknowledging today, or being in today. As another example, you clean your house or you clean your kitchen in a Zen way. Obviously, there is a sense of intelligence