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 : Summer 2008
buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly summer 20 0 8 26 are merely modes of speech. They all derive from the same source, the truth of the way things are. They are simply expedient formulations that guide the heart to attunement with the reality of its own nature. That attunement is the middle way. The View from the Center There are many teachings that illuminate this perspective; for example: As long as space remains, As long as sentient beings remain, Until then, may I too remain And dispel the miseries of the world. — Shantideva, Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life To the average Theravadan, this verse by Shantideva might seem antithetical to the path. It appears to run completely counter to that principle to get out of the burning house as soon as one can. However, the practice of the middle way involves taking up compassion teachings along with their partner, the emptiness teachings. These two elements are like the wings of a bird—they can’t function properly without each other. If we reflect closely on this verse, another layer of mean- ing opens up: as long as space and identity are held to have substantial reality, the mind has not realized enlightenment. True insight involves recognizing that space, time, and being are imputed qualities that have no absolute existence. Thus the Southern idea of “me going” and “others left be- hind” must be missing the mark. Similarly, the Northern view of “this individual being will persist through infinite time for the sake of other beings” has also fallen into wrong view. The practice of the middle way dissolves the illusion that “I” can “go” and “others” can “stay,” or vice versa. It radically reconfigures the concepts of time, space, and being. So the aspiration can validly be as it is in the verse; but if space no longer remains, if no beings remain, if their nature is recognized as conditioned and therefore empty, what does that say about the “I” who would be “staying”? The irony is that upon knowing that time, space, and be- ings have no substantial reality, the “I” is “gone” too—gone to suchness, come to suchness: Tathagata. Sri Ramana Maharshi once remarked, “A good man says, ‘Let me be the last man to get liberation, so that I may help all others to be liberated before I am.’ Wonderful! Imagine a dreamer saying, ‘May all these dream people wake up be- fore I do.’ The dreamer is no more absurd than this amiable philosopher.” His analysis astutely sums up the issue: only when the heart is free of all self-view can it attune itself to reality; a precise balance is needed. In The Vajra Prajna Paramita Sutra, we find passages that voice a similar understanding: Subhuti, what do you think? You should not maintain that the Tathagata has this thought: “I shall take living beings across.” Subhuti, do not have that thought. And why? There are actually no living beings taken across by the Tathagata. If there were living beings taken across by the Tathagata, then the Tathagata would have the existence of a self, of others, of living beings, and of a life. Subhuti, the existence of a self spoken of by the Tathagata is no existence of a self, but common people take it as the existence of a self. We save all beings by realizing there are no beings. The perfection of wisdom is to see this fact: ultimately, the truth is not self and not other; there is no arahant, no bodhisat- tva, no birth, no death. Though the heart might incline to compassion, it’s only when we cultivate this wisdom element as well that there is going to be true spiritual fulfillment. Experience shows that in order to realize a fulfillment that maximally benefits all, we need to know our traits and learn how to balance them out. If we’re a wisdom type—intent on realizing nibbana to get out as quickly as possible—then it’s necessary to develop compassion. We need to lean toward people and things. Or, if we’re an altruistic type, feeling, “I’ve got to stay around until everyone else has been saved,” then we need to incline toward the emptiness of things. In the equipoise of the middle way, the infinite and the void are sustained. They complement each other; they bal- ance each other out. “Does She Really Exist?” The scene: a Buddhist conference in Berlin. Among the many panels and presentations, some teachers have come to give workshops as well. One such elder is an eminent Tibetan lama; he has been giving instruction on The Praise to the Twenty- One Taras. It is now time for questions and answers. A young man with furrowed brow requests to speak. He asks in broken English, “Rinpoche, for many years now I have been your student. I am committed to the practice but I have the doubt. I am very willing to do the pujas, the visualizations, the prostrations, but it is very hard to have the whole heart in it, because I have this doubt: Tara, is she really there? Sometime you talk like she is a real person, but