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Buddhadharma : Summer 2010
17 summer 2 01 0 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly Put very simply, good actions lead to good effects and bad actions lead to bad effects. Our actions have their effect no matter what opinion we have on the subject. We carry the consequences of our actions. In what sense do our past mistakes affect our training now? Are we unable to realize the truth until all past mistakes have been cleansed? If so, then how far back do we go? If we understand our present in terms of past lives, then presum- ably we have to go back to the beginning of human awareness, or even beyond, to cleanse every mistake. Will we then be pure enough for enlightenment? This is what I have called the septic tank theory of training: only when all the crap has been removed will we be able to know the truth. This is to burden our- selves unnecessarily. What is needed is the willingness to respond to whatever may crop up from the past, but we do not need to go on a karma hunt. When self-concern drops away, this universe is perfect in its complete- ness. The response called forth by the condi- tions of the moment is part of the perfection. Such a response is to do the work of the moment without investing in being cleansed or uncleansed. From BuddHA reCoGniZes BuddHA, by daiShin morgan. publiShed by throSSel hole preSS, 2010 What’s it going to be? We like the idea of awakening, says Vipassana teacher Rodney Smith, but what we really love is indulging. The problem is, we can’t have both. There is an important but often overlooked element in self-transformation that is behind the scenes driving the entire spiritual path, and that is the sincerity of the practitioner. The path can deviate away from self-understanding toward self-deception at any moment, and sin- cerity makes the choice to follow the diver- gence or stay the course. The mark of sincerity is passion for the truth. kimscafuro The dharma can become faddish when it is too available, and it may be too accessible in the West. One friend of mine refused to go to a meditation retreat because he did not want to share a room. The days when a pro- spective meditator would stand outside a Zen temple in the snow waiting for the approval of the roshi to enter are mostly gone. Such behavior, extreme as it was, did indicate sin- cerity. A lack of sincerity is driven by a weak intention; we want the truth but on our terms and preferably without austerity. Competing interests not only weaken our resolve but also indicate a consciousness divided between self-indulgence and an authentic yearning for freedom. The more immoderate we are in our sense pleasures the duller we become, and the more our life becomes self-focused away from self- discovery. We like the idea of awakening, but we love the experience of indulging. Sincerity is formed through the reversal of that couplet. Most of our efforts are toward worldly hap- piness, but the more we try to obtain that elu- sive goal, the further it seems to recede. After the pain of countless up-and-down swings from happiness to disappointment, many of us are forced to ask, “Have I had enough?” This may be the first sincere dharma question of our life. From stePPinG out of self-deCePtion by rodney Smith, Forthcoming in July From Shambhala publicationS