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Buddhadharma : Fall 2007
buddhadharma| 45 |fall 2007 that tells the cleaner, or student, that it is going to be clean at the end, that you are going to produce an immaculate Zen kitchen. That is already under- stood. But still, the notion of journey and perfec- tion provide less sense of one-valueness. In the tantric tradition, the experience of life is regarded as an endless ocean, a limitless sky, or it is regarded as just one dot, one situation. Therefore, the idea of “not two,” or the advaita principle, is an important principle in tantric Buddhism. It is “not two,” but “not two” does not only mean “be one.” If you do not have two, you also do not have one. It is just “no,” rather than even “not.” So nothing is left behind to provide a source of refer- ence point, or a source of meditative indulgence, or for that matter, a source of disappointment, at all. It is one value, which means no value. The epitome of shunyata is only expressed in the Vajrayana teachings, we could quite safely say. In the teachings of the Hinayana or Mahayana schools, we have seen only a partial glimpse of the shunyata principle. The reason this is so is because here there is the acquisition of a hammer to break the cup. Breaking the cup – the discovery of shu- nyata – is no doubt the highest cardinal truth and the highest realization that has ever been known in the realm of buddhadharma. But in order to real- ize this, one has to acquire a hammer, which has been sold in the form of intellect, or in the form of books, or in the form of practices. However, the hammer itself begins to be regarded as more valuable than its function of breaking the cup: it has been decorated with sacred symbols and with sutras written all over it. That is what is called the realization of shunyata as “not” rather than “no,” because the hammer has to demonstrate the mortality of the cup by hitting it and breaking it to pieces. Although it seems to be the same, in the tantric tradition, which is the tradition of a warrior with- out a sword, one does not need a hammer. One does not have to acquire a pair of eyeglasses or a powerful microscope to examine the dharmas. One uses one-value eyes, one-value mind, one- value bare hands to show the mortality of the cup. It is a very brutal approach, I suppose you could say, a very direct approach. Vajrayana has often been regarded as the yana, or vehicle, of means, and people have taken that as literal; but that’s not quite right. In Vajrayana terms, the idea of upaya as “means,” or “skill- ful means,” is entirely different from how means and methods traditionally are described. Here, the method or means is itself Vajrayana. They are not a way, even, or a particular style; the method and means are the same as the actual realization itself! In other words, generally there is a feeling or atti- tude that when we talk about method, it refers to the way that one travels from A to B, which is quite different from the tantric approach. And because of perceiving skillful means in that way, as a way to take a journey from A to B, the journey ceases to become the goal. Of course, we could say that in the Mahayana and Hinayana traditions there is also the notion of path as goal and goal as path: cutting down ambi- tion, speed, aggression, passion, and so forth. But there is a certain faint attitude in reference toward the path you trod on, an attitude that it should show a definite footprint after you have left, so that you could look back and appreciate how you trod on the path. That creates an inspiring exam- ple for your fellow students. It is like going on vacation and taking snapshots so we could bring them back home and show them around and say we actually did go, and we did enjoy ourselves. Tantric upaya, or skillful means, has the dis- tinctive characteristic of approaching things very directly, very precisely and thoroughly, without even recording them in our memory bank. Such recording has been the problem. When we record things in our memory bank, we try to remember them again. We dig them out of our treasury or attic, where we store our junk, and we find them currently valuable, useful, and informative. But this usefulness and these skills we apply create what are called “habit-forming thoughts,” and these habitual thoughts tend to create a clouding- over effect to clarity. In contrast, tantric methods or means do not develop habit patterns at all. Patience and dili- gence in the tantric tradition mean simply patience and diligence on the spot, rather than trying to train our memory bank and our habitual patterns, as if we were training an animal or toilet training a baby. In fact, a major difference between the Mahayana and Hinayana teachings and tantra is this: that the principle of the Mahamudra experi- ence – seeing clearly and precisely the function and energies of the universe as it is – has nothing to do with memorizing or recapturing anything. If you have read The Life and Teachings of Naropa, you probably remember the story of the prajna principle of intelligence in the form of an ugly woman who approached Naropa and asked him to admit that he did not know the sense but only the words. Well, he obviously did know the sense behind the words; otherwise, he couldn’t know the words. Unless you are magnetic tape or something, as long as you have a brain, you would know the meaning behind the words. But in that story, the sense being referred to is the direct sense. That direct sense does not need and is not depen- dent upon any causal characteristics that provide memory, on any mental habit, on anything at all! It is the direct sense, the fresh one, the straight one. So it seems that the purpose of tantra is to destroy the habitual memory bank, so you could Nowness is the landmark in the tantric tradition; in the Zen tradition, basic form or formlessness is the landmark.