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Buddhadharma : Spri 2007
spring 2007| 56 |buddhadharma think there is a gulf of difference separating what we were earlier talking about as “will” and the notion of resolution, such as you would find in the Theravada system of the ten paramis, the ten perfections of the bodhisattva. One of them is adhitthana, resolution or determination. You cannot become a fully enlightened buddha with- out perfecting the capacity to be determined, to be resolute. buddhadharma: There is a difference between will as something you use to manifest your destiny in the world and something that simply sets events in motion in the world. ajahN amaro: Yes, the latter view is what we call vow, which can lead to the end of karma. The Buddha says that the action of perfecting wis- dom brings about the cessation of karma. There’s wholesome karma, unwholesome karma, and then there’s the karma that leads to the cessation of karma. That is the pinnacle of spiritual practice. robiN korNmaN: Yes, when you completely stop believing in ego, karma no longer has the slight- est effect. It ceases to function and you are free of karma. Yet I still have to insist that there is something reductive in how you are talking about this. There is not only something akin to will in the nature of resolution or determination in the Buddhist sense but there is also in tantra something akin to charisma–that quality we associate with someone whose “will” or presence exerts effects upon the world. In the Gesar epic, it is called wangthang, which is literally, “field of power,” but it could also be called authentic presence. When you have this kind of power, if you wish something to happen, it tends to happen. That’s an awful lot like something we might call will. buddhadharma: Is the power you are talking about, though, simply intention and the effects of inten- tion writ large? The Buddha was obviously spoken of as having the powers ascribed to the war- rior-bodhisattva, or enlightened hero. An average person’s intention may have a small effect, but the intention of a buddha or a bodhisattva will yield greater effects and greater presence. ajahN amaro: Well, indeed, the Buddha certainly had that same kind of massive field of power around him, according to contemporary accounts, and he could intend things and bring about great effects. NormaN fisher: The kind of phenomenon Robin is talking about may be a characteristic unique to Vajrayana and may apply less in Theravada and Zen. I’m not versed in Vajrayana and don’t really understand it, but it does seem to me that Vajrayana adds the element of a subtle body, a kind of subtle person. It’s not a person of igno- rance and attachment but a person of awakening. courtesyofJackshainmanGallery,nyc it’s all Karma, it’s all EmPty, it’s all WisdOm thinley norbu rinpoche explains the different approaches to karma in the tibetan three-yana system of Buddhist practice. There are many ways to understand the meaning of karma from different points of view within Buddhism. to synthesize some of these in a simple way, according to the point of view of the vehicle of cause, karma is the activity of cause and result. Within this vehicle, there are various explanations for the basis of karma. the Vaisesika point of view teaches that karma originates in subjective consciousness; the sutranta point of view teaches that karma originates in ordinary continuous mind; the yogacara point of view teaches that karma originates in the basis of all phenomena; and the madhyamika point of view teaches that karma originates in interdependent circumstances. in the context of practice, all points of view within the vehicle of cause teach that there is a basis for enlightenment, a path that leads to enlightenment, and a result of enlightenment. according to the Vajrayana point of view of the vehicle of result, it is unneces- sary to divide cause from result or to consider that any activity follows from or leads to another activity. from the beginningless beginning, there is only the divisionless, pure nature of the mandala of stainless buddhas, and there are not even the names of cause and result. By recognizing this, all activity becomes the spontaneous display of dharmakaya. With that point of view, we must abide in this recognition always, without the influence of the habit of ordinary mind’s delusion, until we have complete confidence. But as long as we have dualistic mind, we divide cause from result and root circumstances from contributing circumstances. through constantly making these divisions, we do not release samsara’s divided phenomena into nondualistic wisdom appearance. instead, by grasping at appearances, we create duality, conceptions, passions, habits, and karma. only buddhas do not have karma. all beings with dualistic mind are continu- ally creating karma. there are many different methods according to different beings’ capacities for purifying the karma of dualistic mind. hinayana practitio- ners, through aversion to the suffering of samara, try to abandon the causes of karma, which are ego and the passions that arise from ego, in order to attain the enlightenment of self-peace. mahayana practitioners try to realize that there is no possessor of a self and no possessor of phenomena, so therefore all phenomena become illusory with the freedom of nonattachment, which automatically opens immeasurable compassion towards beings who do not recognize this, in order to attain enlightenment for the benefit of countless beings. Vajrayana practitioners, through the pure perception of deity appearance, try to transform all karmic phenomena through nondualistic wisdom mind in order to attain enlightenment in the immeasurable, pure mandala of all buddhas. from White Sail: Crossing the Waves of Ocean Mind to the Serene Continent of the Triple Gems, by thinley norbu. reprinted by arrangement with shambhala Publications.