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Buddhadharma : Spring 2010
buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly spring 2 0 10 50 At this stage, virtue and nonvirtue’s true nature—empti- ness—is not taught. Furthermore, in order to have a basis for the explanation that there is an actor who performs actions and experiences their results, the self is described as if it exists. The self is the one who performs actions, good or bad, and then experiences happiness or suffering respectively as a result. Once students have gained confidence that it is important to perform positive actions and refrain from negative ones, they are introduced to the second level, whose purpose is to reverse the students’ clinging to a truly existent self. Students are taught how to analyze the self and determine that the self does not exist in genuine reality. From this, they understand that there cannot be any truly existent virtuous or nonvirtu- ous actions either, because there is no truly existent actor to perform them. At this stage, virtue and nonvirtue are taught to be nonexistent in genuine reality. Then, when students have gained certainty in selflessness and emptiness, they are introduced to the third level, whose function is to reverse clinging to any view or reference point at all, even the views of emptiness and selflessness. This level leads students to the realization that reality transcends all of our concepts about what it might be, whether they be concepts of existence, nonexistence, emptiness, or anything else. At this point, we are taught that even the more subtle understanding that we had at the second stage, of things not truly existing, cannot accurately describe the true nature of reality, which lies beyond all concepts. So we transcend even the idea of nonexistence, even the idea of emptiness. Questions and Answers Why in the song is everything “shining”? Everything is shining because the true nature of mind is lumi- nous clarity, buddhanature, Mahamudra, and all appearances are that luminous clarity’s own energy, radiance, and light. When sunlight is refracted through a colored crystal and rainbows shine on the walls of the room, that is an example of the relationship between mind and appearances. And fur- thermore, the true nature of mind is naturally shining and naturally liberated. At the dharma center where I am staying, in the shrine room there are beautiful crystal offering lamps of many differ- ent colors. Each offering lamp’s light mixes and plays with the light of the others to create even more changing, beautiful col- ors. I think those are the best offering lamps I have ever seen. If you look at those beautiful lights, you get a good example of how appearances are naturally shining and naturally liber- ated, self-arisen and self-liberated. You cannot find any real reason for why the lights appear—they do not have any truly existent causes and conditions. So the appearances themselves do not really exist. What are they then? Self-arisen. And since they are self-arisen, they are self-liberated. These qualities of appearances are important to know: they are luminous and shining, self-arisen and self-liberated. Our teacher, the Buddha, looked with his eye of wisdom and did not see a single truly existent cause or condition. Therefore, he taught that all phenomena are appearance- Those who are familiar with Khenpo rinpoche and his teaching style know of his special emphasis on Buddhist songs. in such songs, dharma practitioners can express any aspect of the path, and the songs of the great masters are rinpoche’s focus in that he studies them, memorizes them, explains them to his students, sings them, and has his students sing them too. He has also composed many profound songs himself. in all these ways, rinpoche has demonstrated to his students that singing can be a wonderful dharma practice. the tradition of Buddhist singing goes back to the Bud- dha shakyamuni himself. the Buddha’s teachings are divided into twelve sections, and one of these is the “set sing it! ari Goldfield on the practice of singing dohas, or songs of realization, a tradition dating back to the Buddha. of teachings Given in Melody.” these were the teachings that the Buddha actually sang to his students. then, at the start of the Kagyu lineage that rinpoche holds, the great masters tilopa, his student naropa, and naropa’s student Marpa each sang many songs of realiza- tion. and the one who sang the most songs of all was Mar- pa’s student, the lord of yogis, Milarepa. perhaps it is no coincidence that of all the tibetan masters who achieved high levels of realization, the one who sang the most songs, Milarepa, is also the only one who is universally acknowl- edged by tibetan Buddhists of all lineages to have attained perfect enlightenment. Milarepa sang about all aspects of the path of dharma and how he integrated dharma practice into his own life. He even sang this verse about singing itself: Singing the key instructions Isn’t meaningless, It’s the lineage tradition.