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Buddhadharma : Summer 2008
27 summer 2 00 8 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly sometimes you say she is the wisdom of Buddha Amoghasid- dhi, or just a skillful means. If I could know for sure, I would redouble my efforts. So, Rinpoche, Tara, does she really exist or does she not?!” For a few moments the lama ponders, then raises his eyes to meet those of his inquirer. A smile spreads across his face. He responds, “She knows that she is not real.” Not a Thought but Balance From this place of realization, we can see that there is a reader here and a page out there, but we can also recognize that this is all just patterns of consciousness. It has no sub- stantial reality. The more we learn to hold this play of forms gently— not clinging to any view—the more there is an attunement. We begin to get the feel. We are not dismissing the faith we have in our favored path, but we are not condemning those who have made other choices. We reflect on the benefits that have come from the practices and principles we know, but we question them and are ready to see them differently, if wisdom indicates a shift of attitude. We commit ourselves to our chosen spiritual practices with 100 percent sincerity, but at the same time know that all of these conventional forms—Northern and Southern— are utterly without substance. As Ajahn Chah would some- times say to the whole assembly at his monastery, “There are no monks or nuns here, there are no lay women, no men; these are mere suppositions, conventional forms—that’s all. Wahng! It’s empty!” The middle way is appreciated as a finely felt sense. It has nothing to do with being mild or halfway along the arc of a pendulum. Rather, it’s the still point that is the center of movement, the axis that the pendulum pivots from. In our heart of hearts we know what it is to be perfectly balanced. There is a deep, intuitive familiarity with this, and this is what we need to sustain and trust. This is the way that the root of concord can be found and embodied. All this said, the rational mind can still struggle for more precision, “Yes, but what exactly is it?!” When a piece of music moves us we say, “It’s perfect!” But even in the saying, we’ve almost lost the feeling. Louis Armstrong, when asked, “What’s jazz?” responded, “Man, if you have to ask, you’ll never know.” The middle way is that wordless quality of balance, of pure and vibrant harmony.