using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Buddhadharma : Fall 2009
buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly fall 2 0 09 52 Start With Your Body Introduction by Anne Carolyn Klein forum • phillip moffitt • cyndi lee • geshe tenzin wangyal rinpoche • reggie ray • Anne CArolyn Klein (rigzin Drolma) is a founding director and resident teacher at Dawn Mountain Tibetan Temple, Community Center, and research institute in Houston, Texas. She is also professor of religious studies at Houston’s rice University. Her forthcoming book is titled Heart, Essence of the Great Expanse: A Story of Transmission. When we hear words like “meditation,” “mindful- ness,” or “mind training,” we often assume we’re working with our minds alone. But nothing could be further from the way it really is. Meditation, mindfulness, and mind training are full-being enterprises. They involve our whole body and our body’s energies, including how speech expresses those energies, and how mind rides on them. It’s not surprising that we think about mind training in this way. Since Descartes, Western culture has articulated a chasm- like divide between mind and body, and an analogous one between reason and emotion. But emotions are experienced so strongly through the body that when we leave it out of our meditation equation, we are likely to leave feelings aside as well. And when meditation does not encompass feelings, it is difficult for practice to reorient our lives as deeply as we intend ittodoandneedittodo. The discussion here illuminates the body’s importance in several ways. As Phillip Moffitt and Reggie Ray point out, observation of the body helps us overcome the sense of solid- ity we have superimposed on it. In this way, the body gives us access to our conditioned nature, a teaching central to Buddhist teachings. The more dualistic our sense of mind and body, the more we objectify the body and see it as a tool for our use. This, in turn, reinforces our mistaken sense of the body as a thing. As all students of Buddhism know, moving past the illusion of solidity is vital for removing the further delusion that we are, or have, a self-enclosed independent self. We are not such a self, and we don’t have such a self. Never did. The panelists note that by beginning with “the part of our minds we call the body,” we find easier access to stabilizing our awareness. As Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche points out, if we work with the body, we can avoid forcing the mind to be quiet. The mind will quiet naturally, because body and mind profoundly affect one another. Focused on the body, our mind is less likely to wander off into our own story lines. Moreover, through understanding the way coarse and subtle energies move through the body, we can appreciate that our posture directly affects our minds, just as the state of our mind will also affect our body. This is the significance of the dif- ferent postures and movements of Tibetan and Indian yogic practices. Through an experience of the conditioned nature of the body, we also begin to approach the unconditioned. The body can bring us to the ultimate in two ways. First, as noted, we can see through the illusions of perma- nence, solidity, or independence that we superimpose on our body and everything else, especially our sense of self. Unless we stop to reflect, even our own mind appears to us in that guise: “I’m always angry. I can’t change this.” Second, the state of enlightenment itself is expressed in what are known as the three bodies, or dimensions. These are purified analogues of our own body. Our “buddha-fied” physical body becomes the emanation body (nirmanakaya), our energy becomes the resplendent body (sambhogakaya), and our genuine mind becomes the truth body (dharmakaya). There is much to understand here at a refined level. At the very least, it is clear we must open deeply to the subtle reality of our own body, speech-energy, and mind-nature to manifest their enlightened potential. Viewed in these ways, the body is not just something associ- ated with our individual manifestation in the world. When we feel into it more subtly, we can experience what Cyndi Lee calls “the energetic circuitry” that connects people. This is a palpable force in practice, and an important reason why all Buddhist traditions encourage us to practice together, in the same room, or in imagined synchronicity, so that the dedication of our full minds and bodies can support us in the unfolding of practice. As Nagarjuna famously said, through paying attention to the conventional, the conditioned, we will recognize the ultimate, the unconditioned. We recognize it not as some abstract truth, but as our own intimate nature, the ground of the entire mind– body system. photography by liza matthews