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Buddhadharma : Summer 2019
62 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER'S QUARTERLY describe the interdependent nature of ignorance and awakening. We usually think that awakening has nothing to do with ignorance. We put it on one side of the fence and ignorance on the other, fearing that ignorance might otherwise contaminate awakening. But in truth they cannot be separated in this way. If there were no ignorance and confusion, there could be no awakening. Ignorance is the ground from which awakening is cultivated. That is the nature of interde pendent coarising. If you say, “I want to put an end to the cycle of birth and death. I will only accept liberation,” it shows that you do not yet understand the nature of interdependent coarising. If you try to throw away “this” to be able to find “that,” you will never find what you are searching for. “That” can only be found within “this.” The Buddha advises us not to run away from anything in order to run toward something else. In fact, the practice of Bud dhism is the practice of aimlessness, of having no goal (apranihita). If we are pure, calm, and clear in our mind, then we are already in the Pure Land. Ignorance and awakening are interdependent. Nir vana can only be found within the world of birth and death. Roots of affliction (kleshas), the unwholesome mental formations such as greed, hatred, ignorance, pride, doubt, and views, cause us to suffer. When we want awakening, we take hold of our mental formations in order to transform them. If we are about to die of thirst and someone brings us a glass of muddy water, we know we have to find a way of filtering it in order to survive. We can’t just throw it away—that water, even though it is not pure, is our only hope of salvation. In the same way, we have to accept all our afflictions, our mental formations, all the difficulties in the world, our body, and our mind, in order to transform them. If we reject them, if we try to run away from them, we will never suc ceed. There is no escaping the things we hate. We can only transform them into what we love.