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The Journey to Where We Already Are

According to Francesca Fremantle, Buddhist tantra is predicated on the easy proposition that we’re already the place we want to be. We merely want to enable ourselves to actually understand it.

Primordial Dot, Yeachin Tsai

“Primordial Dot,” by Yeachin Tsai

I’ll start with a warning: these phrases are lies. As it says within the Guhyasamaja Tantra, one of many earliest Buddhist tantras, you might have to lie to discuss in regards to the dharma. Anything you say is a lie, as a result of the dharma can’t be expressed in phrases. You can’t even give it some thought, not to mention formulate the phrases and ideas in your thoughts. You have to belief that there’s something past that. And the extra expertise you might have of observe, and significantly, the extra you observe formless meditation, the extra you’ll study to trust within the reality, which might’t be put into phrases.

Of course, the Buddha himself was confronted with this quandary after his enlightenment. He wasn’t going to educate in any respect. It is alleged the representatives of gods and males got here to him and begged him to educate, and he took fairly a very long time to be persuaded, as a result of he knew that he wouldn’t find a way to specific the fact of what he had realized. He knew that it could be misunderstood. That is inevitable. It’s completely fantastic that the dharma does come to us, someway or different. It comes to us from area.

Space is a basic precept in the entire of Buddhism, however it’s significantly fantastically developed and expressed in tantra. My trainer, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, typically spoke of area because the setting during which start and demise happen—the elemental foundation of the whole lot. Like all Buddhist ideas, area isn’t a concept or picture. It is a lived expertise. It’s a sense, an precise expertise. Sometimes you need to use photos of bodily area to attempt to provoke this expertise. When we breathe out, our breath goes out. You can think about going so far as you may presumably assume, out into the universe, out into limitless area. And but the area that’s described in dharma is much past that. It is absolutely the expertise of full openness, full spaciousness. Which is as a lot inside us as it’s all round us. It has no boundaries. It has no location. It has no dimensions. And we are able to undoubtedly expertise this in meditation.

One of the primary symbols of tantra is the sound AH. You can say AH, both out loud, or to your self, and utterly loosen up. First loosen up your physique with that AH. And then AH—let go of all the strain and all of the muddle in your thoughts. AH is the image of area, the origin of the whole lot. Everything arises from area. If the whole lot weren’t area, nothing may seem. Nothing may exist.

Trungpa Rinpoche additionally mentioned the whole lot exists solely as a result of it doesn’t exist. Everything seems out of spaciousness. Another phrase for spaciousness is shunyata, vacancy. But vacancy might sound a bit unfavorable. Spaciousness expresses the thought it is also full. It’s filled with potentiality. Even potentiality may very well be misunderstood. It merely accommodates completely the whole lot. But this the whole lot doesn’t trigger any obstruction. Another phrase for area is unobstructed. Transparent is one other tantric phrase. Everything may be seen by way of. And but the whole lot is as actual and vivid as a really vivid rainbow. Nothing will get in the way in which of the rest. Everything can seem concurrently.

Spontaneous Experience

The complete of area exists in a single bindu, one dot, which isn’t even a dot. It has no dimensions in any respect. And this incorporates the entire of existence, the entire of area. And it additionally incorporates the entire of time: previous, current, and future—in a single second. And we are able to’t even name that second the current, as a result of the current isn’t a factor. It was there a second in the past. Now it’s gone. You can by no means, ever catch the current. So, in tantra it’s known as nowness, which matches past previous, current, and future. The ever-moving second of the current. The previous which we expect has occurred. The future which we think about will occur. It’s all concurrently in nowness.

It’s attainable to expertise this bindu of all area and all time in meditation. It’s equally attainable for it to happen spontaneously at any second. I believe it’s significantly made attainable within the presence of nice artwork. But that’s not obligatory. It can simply occur while you’re strolling down the road. Some folks assume they want to exit into the countryside to expertise this. But it will possibly occur in a crowded tube practice, can occur while you’re cooking, doing the washing up, something, no matter.

The extra one practices meditation, although, the extra alternative there may be for these spontaneous experiences to come up. This area known as the bottom of being. It is an expertise that all of us can have, and which is absolutely the aim of meditation. But you too can see it because the story of the entire universe. When we discuss how the universe got here into being; how the six realms of beings developed; why we’re right here in any respect as human beings on this earth—we’re speaking about the identical factor, our personal minds, our personal day-to-day expertise.

There’s a beautiful textual content known as the “Aspiration Prayer of Samantabhadra,” which expresses this in a really poetic method. It begins off saying the bottom of being is one, nevertheless it incorporates two paths, main to two outcomes: consciousness and unawareness, understanding and unknowing, in Tibetan rigpa and marigpa, in Sanskrit vidya and avidya.

The floor of being is simply the identical factor as our personal thoughts. It incorporates each risk of existence inside it, and it’s at all times one. The Aspiration Prayer goes on to say that even the names of samsara and nirvana don’t exist inside this floor. There is not any distinction between samsara and nirvana. No distinction between confusion and awakening. There is just this one floor of being and from it the whole lot arises as a show, like fireworks towards a darkish sky. Or lets say just like the northern lights towards the sky. And that is merely issues as they’re—what’s. This may be skilled as a result of the state of spaciousness and vacancy, which is the bottom of being, is inseparable from what is usually known as luminosity, generally known as understanding. It’s the standard of understanding.

Play and Display

The high quality of understanding goes along with the standard of the looks of no matter is thought. It’s the identical because the Heart Sutra saying “Form is emptiness, and emptiness is also form.” You can not have vacancy that doesn’t manifest as kind, and you might not have kind if its essence weren’t vacancy. So, the vacancy right here is that this floor of being, the area, the dwelling area, the dynamic area, which is frequently, spontaneously manifesting as all attainable appearances, together with us.

The undeniable fact that there are appearances, or the show—I just like the phrase show as a result of we’ve got this good correspondence between play and show, which you don’t have within the conventional Buddhist languages—means there may be understanding, however with out ego. It is understanding with none type of possessiveness concerned, with out making a division into what’s me and what’s not me, what’s inside, what’s exterior. It is nondual understanding.

We do have these experiences in on a regular basis life. It can occur simply out of the blue: you have a look at one thing, have a look at a blue sky, and also you’re completely one with it. You hear to a bit of music and you might be utterly one with it. You have enjoyable with somebody you like very a lot, and also you out of the blue develop into utterly at house with that individual, and it’s past thought. We all have had these experiences. We all acknowledge that there are moments which are past our regular, on a regular basis expertise. And the truth is, we couldn’t stay in that have repeatedly. It could be unimaginable to go about one’s day by day life: going to work, doing issues round the home, consuming, cooking, catching the tube, and so forth.

We have to stay as regular, dualistic beings more often than not. And on the similar time, we are able to acknowledge that this nondual expertise, this expertise of complete oneness with the universe round us, with different folks, with the whole lot that exists, is primary to our nature and by no means goes away. We reside on totally different ranges on the similar time. One of the good advantages of meditation is to assist maintain us in contact with that nondual side of our being, the woke up side.

Going Nowhere, Joyfully

As the Samantabhadra Aspiration goes on to say, what it means to be a buddha, to be Samantabhadra, isn’t to transfer from the notice of that floor of being, whereas sentient beings have someway moved away from that consciousness and have entered an phantasm, or a dream, or a play, of being in one of many six realms. Having inhabited a realm—in our case, the human realm—step by step we develop into completely satisfied that that’s what we’re. We’ve misplaced contact with the bottom of being, which is at all times our primary nature.

What is exclusive about tantra is that it actually emphasizes this primary buddhanature. Although that is current in different Mahayana traditions, additionally they current many strategies of attempting to get again to it, which makes it seem to be we’re not already there, like we’ve got to make a journey. We have to do one thing. We have to change ourselves. Tantra says no, you might be already that. You don’t have to go anyplace. You don’t have to do something. But after all, we’ve got to understand how to interpret these directions.

As Trungpa Rinpoche put it, we’re at all times including to confusion once we attempt to do one thing. It’s at all times including to our confusion, taking us away from buddha­nature, hiding buddhanature from us. To get again to buddhanature is absolutely to do nothing.

If we are able to loosen up into the popularity of the essential floor of oneness, duality can exist inside that—with none drawback.

Why do we discover ourselves on this scenario? One model of how that’s occurred is that the one consciousness, knowingness, the way in which the buddhanature experiences no matter arises…out of the blue grew to become conscious of this huge show taking place throughout it, and it grew to become frightened. A primary cut up happens. As it turns into conscious of itself as one thing separate from that basic concern, that begins the lengthy journey towards the event of greed, hatred, want, and so forth. And that leads to taking start in one of many six realms. The basic buddha consciousness, nevertheless, merely experiences the whole lot that occurs and instantly lets it go. That’s the trick. It is to expertise and instantly let go. And the show is steady on a regular basis. It’s a steady experiencing and letting go.

William Blake talked about this in a stunning verse:

He who binds to himself a pleasure
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the enjoyment because it flies
Lives in eternity’s dawn.

What will we normally do once we expertise any kind of pleasure?

We grasp it and cling to it. We maintain it and don’t let it go. That’s the way in which to destroy it. “Kisses the joy as it flies”: That might sound such as you’re not going to take pleasure in it. But that’s not the case, the truth is, as a result of that pleasure is frequently arising—eternity’s dawn, it by no means ends. The solar of that bliss and that pleasure is simply frequently arising, with no finish. As quickly as we let it go, we’re renewed repeatedly and once more.

The primary cut up of ego arises from a basic twist in a tiny little bit of the huge show—the urge to grasp onto our expertise, to grasp onto a sense:

“I am experiencing that.”
“I am different from that.”

And then it develops into:

“I like this experience.”
“I want more of it.”
“I don’t like that.”
“I want to push it away.”
“I want to destroy it.”

And so, the entire thing will get greater and larger, and we find yourself discovering ourselves within the place we’re in now. And that’s what is supposed by start. This start of what looks as if a person thoughts in one of many six realms takes place consistently. At the identical time that there’s start, the whole lot is dissolving. The fantastic show throughout us is arising and dissolving on a regular basis.

Birth, demise, and the hole in between—which known as bardo in Tibetan—are frequently taking place inside our stream of consciousness. That isn’t taking place exterior someplace. It isn’t one thing that occurred way back. It’s one thing that’s taking place inside our minds, proper now. Or lets say inside thoughts itself, proper now.

If we are able to loosen up into the popularity of the essential floor of oneness, duality can exist inside that—with none drawback.

What does it imply to say “my mind”?

We all assume we’ve got our personal particular person minds. In meditation, you may start to query this. First you may start to marvel, the place is thoughts? Is it one thing inside my mind? Is it all through my physique? Then you may start to really feel, it’s exterior of me as nicely. You breathe out and you’re feeling your complete consciousness going out into area throughout you. There’s no finish to it. And slowly you start to get a sense of thoughts itself, which isn’t essentially “my mind.”

Nondual Duality

The dissolution that’s consistently taking place inside us, in sure circumstances turns into rather more seen. If we obtain a shock of some variety—some unhealthy information, if we really feel in poor health and we’re out of the blue actually apprehensive, every kind of issues—we develop into conscious of this sense of impending dissolution, of the whole lot that we all know, that truly our life isn’t agency and safe as we usually assume it’s. Anything may occur at any second. We may go mad at any second. We may lose our thoughts. We may lose our bodily colleges. We may truly die. All kinds of surprising issues may occur to us. Waking up from a dream generally, you may really feel a way of full disorientation, maybe not understanding the place you might be. Sometimes it may be actually horrifying—only for a second. And then out of the blue the atypical world reasserts itself.

These demise experiences are literally taking place to us on a regular basis. As Trungpa Rinpoche writes in his commentary on The Tibetan Book of the Dead:

…the expertise of uncertainty about whether or not one is definitely going to die, within the sense of dropping contact with the stable world…. This uncertainty isn’t essentially seen by way of leaving the physique, however purely by way of dropping one’s floor; the potential for dropping contact with the actual world, into an unreal world. We may say that the actual world is that during which we expertise pleasure and ache, good and unhealthy. There is a few act of intelligence that gives the factors of issues as they’re, a primary dualistic notion.

In some sense, ego is absolutely clever. We can see this in how a lot effort and creativity we put into frequently holding our sense of separateness going, whereas stress-free is probably the most pure factor. But to us it’s an enormous effort to loosen up into meditation, to loosen up into nonduality. Our intelligence is absolutely working time beyond regulation to maintain us feeling we’re particular person sentient beings.

However, as Trungpa Rinpoche goes on to say:

…if we’re utterly in contact with these dualistic emotions, that absolute expertise of duality is itself the expertise of nonduality. Then there isn’t a drawback in any respect, as a result of duality is seen from a wonderfully open and clear viewpoint during which there isn’t a battle. Conflict arises as a result of duality isn’t seen as it’s in any respect. It is seen solely in a biased method, a really clumsy method.

This is the scenario the place we’ve misplaced contact with the nondual side of issues. So, very clumsily, we solely consider on this and that, “I” and “not I,” topic and object, in a really crude and clumsy method. If we are able to loosen up into the popularity of the essential floor of oneness, duality can exist inside that with none drawback.

These experiences of start and demise are descriptions of loads of our day by day life experiences, an unsure, confused state in which there’s loads of concern. We’ve forgotten our reference to our true nature. Two massive themes in tantra are these two contrasting methods of being: the dualistic method, which is the six realms of existence, which we circle by way of on a regular basis; and however, the woke up method of being, which is the realm of the 5 buddhas, the 5 tathagatas.

What does it imply to discuss 5 tathagatas? The woke up method of being is past ideas, as we all know. We actually can’t get our minds, our atypical conceptual minds round this image of huge, open wakefulness that incorporates all qualities. So merely so as to find a way to give it some thought, or discuss it, or have any concept of it in any respect, we’ve got to divide issues up, somewhat like splitting white gentle with a prism, which provides us the separate colours of the rainbow. These divisions aren’t finally actual.

They’re all merely totally different elements of the white gentle. The qualities of open wakefulness by no means transfer from the bottom of our being. In order to describe what the woke up nature may very well be, we give attention to qualities that we are able to relate to, reminiscent of knowledge, compassion, energy, efficient motion, and so forth.

So, the texts use the thought of 1 all-knowing buddha consciousness, cut up into 5 totally different qualities of consciousness, which we are able to have a look at and take into consideration, and establish in ourselves and different folks. That’s an important factor. It seems like these buddhas are beings which are superior to us, however they’re actually our personal qualities.

Our personal innate buddhanature is on no account separate from the picture of Samantabhadra, whose title means “all good,” “complete goodness,” which represents the entire buddhanature. Samantabhadra is just a reputation that we give to the whole lot that we may presumably think about as finally good. And Samantabhadra manifests throughout us and in our personal lives repeatedly.


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