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Buddhadharma : Summer 2017
46 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly summer 2017 openness where we’re not so caught up in the con- cerns of self. Resting in the spaciousness of heart and mind, abiding in emptiness, naturally opens the doors to a lot of beautiful qualities, including wisdom and compassion. When the veils of klesha are not constructing the self and obscuring, wisdom and compassion naturally shine forth. DAIJAKu KINST: Seeing and accepting reality as it is— that everything is empty of inherent existence—is wisdom. Committing oneself to seeing clearly is committing oneself to a world that is both alive with particularity and empty of inherent existence. Such a commitment supports and allows wisdom to manifest; it is the path of the bodhisattva. From there, we can begin to taste the liberation that comes from that, but it can be a scary proposition. BuDDhADhARMA: You stated earlier that emptiness is dependent co-arising. Is it that straightforward? Are they two ways of saying the same thing? DAIJAKu KINST: That’s how I understand it. When Dogen speaks of the boat and the people riding in it, he’s talking about dynamic activity as depen- dent co-arising. This moment-by-moment intimate arising that includes us, our delusions, even our crankiness—they’re all a part of it. As Dogen says, nothing is hidden. Nothing is excluded; there is no other self besides this moment. We are this dynamic activity, and emptiness is not apart from dependent co-arising. Guy ARMSTRONG: I agree that they’re almost syn- onymous. The Buddha said, “When this arises, that arises; when this does not arise, that does not arise.” This points both to the constructed nature of everything that rests on prior causes and condi- tions and also to the impermanent nature of things, because when the cause goes away, the effect goes away, too. It points to the insubstantial nature of all conditioned things: they arise based on causes and conditions and also have the nature of passing. As I see it, that’s at the heart of what emptiness means. BuDDhADhARMA: How does one cultivate an under- standing or experience of shunyata? What skillful means or practices are emphasized in each of your traditions? Guy ARMSTRONG: There are two fundamental ways we think of it: emptiness of self and emptiness of phenomena. In the Theravada lineages I’ve prac- ticed in, there are usually dharma talks in a given practice period that emphasize the absence of self, but many of them are really theoretical; people don’t have an easy way to connect them to their experience. I’ve found that one of the most acces- sible ways for people to get in touch with these teachings is if they’re asked to notice when the sense of self is strong and what that experience is like, and when the sense of self is weak and what that experience is like. They commonly report that when the sense of self is strong, they feel agitated, there’s some disturbance going on, and when the sense of self is weak, they tend to report a sense of calm or ease. This gets them to understand that the sense of self is often born out of klesha and is not a constant. Once they’ve started to undermine that belief in a stable, ongoing self, they can start investigating how the sense of self gets formed through some sim- ple experiential steps from dependent origination: contact leads to feeling, feeling leads to craving, and craving leads to clinging. Understanding how the sense of self is formed from clinging or grasp- ing leads to an awareness that sometimes there isn’t much sense of self, which could mean there isn’t an ongoing self. Once they get more deeply relaxed and the mind settles—as they become intimate with their investi- gation of the six senses, with clear mindfulness of objects arising and passing—they start to see that