I am using Weeping Buddha and the lojong sayings and commentary from Training the Mind and Cultivating Loving-Kindness by Chogyam Trungpa as a study, together.
I’ve been practicing tonglen for almost three decades, and it is my main practice.
This is the eighth weekly installment. To start at the beginning go here.
This slogan always makes me think of the zennie saying, “Mountain, no mountain, mountain.” You have to open to the truth of everything being not solid, everything being an illusion, and sit with that until you are constantly reminded that whatever you are caring so much about is not real. But then, there is that nihilistic tendency where, even for a short time, you think, “What is the point, then?”
This is when Chagdud’s commentary* on Absolute Reality and Relative Reality became so important to me. As I pondered the two, knowing that in absolute reality there is NO separation between me and every object, I also had to wonder what the point to having the dream was — it had to be for a reason, right? Entertainment? Unlikely. . . . But I figured it had to do with some aspect of our consciousness. Thinking about the sending and taking aspects of the practice (not discussed yet for you who are new to this), whereby we send out the best we have as we breathe out, and take in all the pain and suffering as we breathe in, it became clear to me that the dream (my reality) was to allow me to play out my intentions, which appear to be important in some karmic sense. This squared with so many world religions, where the concept of sin is only present where you had intention to commit the sin.
So in self-liberating the antidote, I can see that while this reality may be an illusion, there is a reason to stay present, to not just assume that it doesn’t matter what I do. The reason is my intention in every moment. This led me back to another of Trungpa’s wonderful sayings, which is (paraphrasing) “only you know your own mind.”
I do, and mostly my intentions are good. There was a sigh of relief about that. And, I had to begin to allow myself compassion for some of my actions where I have no other choice and yet my actions are not what I might want. Even organic vegetarians participate in killing to eat. I pollute and I don’t want to (I am sure of it); I use our resources sometimes in opposition to what I want for the environment, and usually it is because I have no real choice at this time (we drive to job sites); and I kill even though I have no intention to kill, and will walk a beetle out of the building. Really we could go crazy thinking about our values versus reality, even in the best sense. Instead of getting all worked up, I learn to have compassion for myself and others who also want to do the right thing, and stay open to another answer arising.
This also throws out the need for a set of guidelines for living (think ten commandments or ten precepts). No rules keeps you present for what is so. It also stops cold the need to participate in zen-based debates. The answer is, “look at your intention or ground of being.”
Gossip is a good example, because most religions say gossiping is a no-no. Gossip can be harmful, but it can also be a positive part of a large family situation, if we consider intention. To share the news that someone is going through a rough time and needs some help? To share concern that someone is having a nutty so we all need to give a bit more energy to that person? Or, to share the news that someone is going through a rough time and it is their fault because they make stupid decisions? To separate and push away, or to offer the possibility of help and caring? In a tight-knit family, there may be “gossip” that is quite positive in intention and in outcome.
Taking responsibility for my intentions is actually not so hard, though at first I was overwhelmed and resisted that it was even possible. In the end it taught me another layer of compassion. And it gave me a good excuse to throw the rule books out the window. “Let your conscience be your guide,” said that enlightened character, the great Jiminy Cricket!
In this weekly commentary on the lojong, I am not open to the feed becoming
a debate for people to nitpick Buddhism or my interpretations of Buddhist concepts.
(There are lots of places for debates.) I am more interested in hearing about
YOUR life or how it affected you or your practice awakening in some manner.
For more info about why, go here.
*For great information on this and a wonderful book by an amazing teacher,
go to Gates to Buddhist Practice, by Chagdud Rinpoche, my teacher.
Image of Jiminy Cricket is from a Disney Trailer and is in the public domain, Wikipedia.