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Buddhadharma : Summer 2008
17 summer 2 00 8 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly Q senD your questions by mail or to teachers@thebuDDhaDharma.com Zenkei BLanche hartman is former abbess of the San Francisco Zen Center. Geshe tenZin WanGyaL is a lineage holder of the Bön Dzogchen tradition of Tibet. narayan LieBenson GraDy is a guiding teacher at Cambridge Insight Meditation Center. PHOTOSBY(l-R):BARBARAwENgER,MARYEllENMCCOURT,MARYlANg Question: How do I know if I’m having a moment of realization or if I’m just deluding myself (still in ego)? Zenkei Blanche hartman: I think that if there is an ac- tual experience of reality, if you are seeing just this, as-it-is, you will recognize at once: “Oh, so that’s how it is!” The unmistakable reality of the experience will be clear. The delu- sion part is any thought such as “I” am “having” a moment of realization. That is, imagining a “self” separate from some “not self” is delusion, and imagining a “moment of realiza- tion” as an object that can be grasped by a self is also delu- sion. The very idea of a “self” separate from some “other” is the negation of how we actually exist in the world. Each being includes the whole universe and is included in the whole universe. There is no separation. There is a verse attributed to a Catholic monk that is pertinent to your question: I really long to see my God I ask in every prayer. But He can’t come to visit me Unless there’s no one there. Once when I was sitting a sesshin, my teacher asked us to investigate carefully where we experienced the bound- ary between self and other. He kept encouraging us to let that boundary expand wider and wider to include more and more. At a certain point, there was the experience of the boundary expanding like a giant balloon without limit. Then I had the thought, “I am in samadhi!” and that “I” was like a giant pin puncturing the balloon with a big bang. I almost burst out laughing because it was so clear that my thought of a separate “I” had created a separation where there had been none. In his essay, “Only Buddha and Buddha,” Dogen Zenji says, “When you realize buddhadharma, you do not think, ‘This is realization just as I expected.’ Even if you think so, realization invariably differs from your expectation. Realization is not like your conception of it....Realization does not depend on thoughts but comes forth far beyond them....Know that then, there is no delusion, and there is no realization.” Two monks were out walking when one of them pointed to the ground and said, “Right here is the summit of the mystic mountain.” The other monk looked down and said, “So it is. What a pity!” Geshe tenZin WanGyal rinpoche: When true realization occurs, there is no question about it. If there is a question, then that is not true realization. When you do experience openness or a positive quality such as the arising of love toward others, it is not valuable to doubt the experience. Rather, you need to recognize the experience, host it fully, and appreciate it. It is important to recognize positive experiences in your practice. All too often in the West we relate to our problems and crises as “real” or normal, but if we wake up and feel joy or well-being, we do not tend to see that as valid, and instead we tend to watch out for our next problem. If we are not aware that we carry this orientation toward life, if we do not connect with openness and the positive qualities that arise from it, we will miss much of the sacred in life. We need to appreciate that uplifted experiences are part ask the teachers