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Buddhadharma : Fall 2007
fall 2007| 46 |buddhadharma see precisely and clearly, without any distortion. The spontaneity that develops from the tantric tradition and the sense of respect for the guru are immediate experience, rather than parental memory or habit-formed memory. Although spon- taneity and frivolousness may seem to be quite close, they are entirely different. Frivolousness is a panicked form of spontaneity, in which you look for some immediate occupation in order to save yourself from egohood and the neurotic pains that you experience. In other words, it is saving face. In order to maintain yourself in a certain way and still survive, you keep latching on to occupation after occupation and responsibility after respon- sibility. Although you may not actually have that responsibility, having the title of responsibility cre- ates enormous security. You make yourself avail- able, useful and efficient, compulsive. The spontaneity of the true nature is based on having a notion of being and a notion of nowness. There’s no need for panic. Everything is clear and precise, and you are acting upon it, depending on what the situation demands. In doing so, one may take different approaches; sometimes one has to be tough and sometimes one has to be gentle, but that is dictated by the situation, which is seen very clearly. Again, there is no goal orientation at all, other than what is required at that very moment. Whenever there is goal orientation, there are possi- bilities that spontaneity could turn into frivolity. Such spontaneity seems to be the style of Vajra- yana practitioners’ approach to life. Sometimes you might think that Vajrayana practitioners are extremely accurate and intuitive, and sometimes their style may be dangerous and explosive, or potentially explosive. There seem to be differences in the landmarks of tantra and Zen. Nowness is the landmark in the tantric tradition; in the Zen tradition, basic form or formlessness is the landmark. That does not mean that the fundamental tradition of Zen depends purely on an external shell or color or mask. But still, as much as we might say there’s no Buddha, there’s no Zen, there’s no zazen, there’s no gong, and there’s no zafu – we are still talking the language of form. That is not regarded as unde- sirable or desirable, particularly, but that’s how it goes, so to speak; that is how it is presented. In the Vajrayana teachings, the question of “Is there something or isn’t there something?” is not particularly the big issue. If there is something, OK, let it be; if there isn’t, OK, fine – but it is this. That is why the tantric tradition is regarded as most dangerous of all; those who still have some sense of existence and who are searching could come to Vajrayana teachings without first going through the Mahayana shunyata principle and the Hinayana footing. Vajrayana sounds much closer to the confused mind of egohood, if you haven’t gone through the journey. That is why it is regarded as very dangerous. The tantric tradition is the tradition of sudden enlightenment, the school of sudden enlighten- ment. But in order to achieve a sudden glimpse of enlightenment, one has to develop in a grad- ual way. So we could say that in either Zen or Vajrayana – whichever we are talking about – there is no power that is truly sudden, truly insta- matic and automatic. Instant enlightenment is impossible. The tantric approach to life is a straightforward view of reality, so straightforward we can’t even think of it. At the same time, that view is inde- structible; that understanding is imperturbable. For ordinary people, that view is frightening – it has such precision and such conviction, because there is no need for compliments or acknowledg- ment. That is why the term “crazy wisdom,” yeshe cholwa, has been used. Crazy wisdom ceases to look at limitations and is completely penetrating; it does not know curves or bends of this or that, beliefs and ideas, habits. It is like a laser beam. That is why it is called vajra, which is an “ada- mantine, indestructible essence.” In the tantric lan- guage, vajra pride, vajra anger, vajra passion – all of those are transcendental and indestructible, in the fully enlightened sense. In the tantric tradition, the question of poverty and richness has never been raised, because that wasn’t the issue. For that matter, there is even less emphasis on saving all sentient beings – it is auto- matic, so there’s no need to talk about it. It is use- less to say, “I have a heart, I have a brain, I have a head, I have arms,” since if you are in a situation to say “I am,” one presumes you automatically have those things in order to function or to say “I am.” So if you have some kind of mahamudra pen- etration of vajra awareness, there is no need to count up the details of your need to be practical. You are not particularly trying to be practical, but you already are. You live a very worldly life in a vajra world. That world does not take possession of you, but you become part of the world and all mankind – and all sentient beings are part of you. So the work of the adept of Vajrayana is compas- sionate action, in any case. The practitioner’s work is communication, relating with energy and so forth, and that brings the notion of visualizations and mantra practices. Visualizations are not regarded as developing mag- ical powers, nor is visualizing regarded as imagin- ing. But you begin to associate with such basic truth that you automatically have a sense of the visualization you are practicing. The visualization becomes a natural situation rather than something specially imposed on you, as if you were trying to imagine another culture’s view of God. Everything Spontaneity seems to be the style of Vajrayana practitioners’ approach to life. Sometimes you might think that Vajrayana practitioners are extremely accurate and intuitive, and sometimes their style may be dangerous or explosive. lIZAmATThewS