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Buddhadharma : Fall 2017
fall 2017 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 37 creating confusion and dissension. Your public words and actions will, in being variously understood and misunderstood, create confusion among sangha mem- bers who will act out their confusion in sometimes painful ways. You will have all kinds of complicated and contradictory feelings about people who come to practice with you—loving them, worrying about them, dreading them, seeing them make terrible mistakes you can’t prevent, watching as they manipulate you and set you up for all sorts of falls. In the end, you will realize you can’t help them at all and will have to watch them suffer, or watch them make you suffer, and maintain your composure even so. Spring 2014 Breaking Open by Pema Khandro Rinpoche The Tibetan term bardo, or “intermediate state,” is not just a reference to the afterlife. It also refers more generally to these moments when gaps appear, inter- rupting the continuity that we otherwise project onto our lives. In American culture, we sometimes refer to this as having the rug pulled out from under us, or feeling ungrounded. But to be precise, bardo refers to that state in which we have lost our old reality and it is no longer available to us. There is no ground, no certainty, and no reference point—there is, in a sense, no rest. This has always been the entry point in our lives for religion. Milarepa referred to this disruption as a great marvel, singing from his cave, “The precious pot contain- ing my riches becomes my teacher in the very moment it breaks.” When the precious pot shatters and all our valuables roll away like marbles on a table, reality as we thought we knew it is disrupted and the game of con- triving an ideal self is suddenly irrelevant. When we are severely ill or in hos- pice, and we have to cede control over our own bodily functions to strangers, holding it all together is not an option. The value of such moments is this: we are shown that the game can be given up and that when it is, the emptiness that we feared, emptiness of the void, is not what is there. What is there is the bare fact of being. Simple pres- ence remains—breathing in and out, waking up and going to sleep. Perhaps in that ungrounded space, we are not even comforting ourselves, not even telling ourselves everything is okay; we may be too tired to do even that. It’s just total capitulation—we’re forced into non-grasping of inherent reality. The contrived self has been emptied out along with contrived existence and the tiring treadmill of image maintenance that goes along with it. What remains is a new moment spontaneously meeting us again and again. There is an incredible reality that opens up to us in those gaps if we do not reject rupture. In fact, if we have some reliable idea of what is happening in that intermediate, groundless space, rupture can become rapture. Spring 2015