Don't settle for less than all you are...
Transcript of Yeshe's Dharma talk from Prajna Sparks podcast episode 82, "Transcend"
A framework that's often used for understanding the full scope of Buddhist practice consists of four notions about healing.
First, that the Buddha is like the consummate physician.
The Dharma is like the medicine or the course of treatment.
We ourselves are like the patient coming to the Buddha for hope and treating the illness.
And lastly, the illness itself is this cycle of birth, aging, illness and death are driven by kleshas, emotions that disturb mind's natural tranquility. These drive us to act under their intentionality, which is called . This in turn yields any number of different varieties of pain, loss, discomfort, discontent, anxiety, stress, lack of fulfillment, all of it called dukkha.
Particularly when we're looking at this way of understanding Buddhist spiritual practice, as healing, transforming, and transcending, as we have been doing over the course of three episodes and #59daysofhealing in the last few months, there is a very obvious parallel to these four notions.
Healing dualistic mind is what spiritual practice does to cleanse and treat the wounds that dualistic perception has already inflicted on our mind. It's a process of healing habits that do not serve us and even actively harm.
As we've seen over the last several months, dualistic mind, which we take for granted as the only way we can be
is actually working a violence, obscuring mind's natural tranquility, radiance, and lucidity. We can all connect with that sense of intuition or knowing that there is something more than our immediate experience of our mind, of the world, and so on.
Healing dualistic mind is that process of Buddhist practice that allows us to address the unrest that dualistic perception has already caused throughout this life. And, from a Buddhist perspective, throughout lives without number before this one. One way to get our heads around that, if we are not quite sure about karma and rebirth, is to imagine our mind as a stream, a continuum that's been handed down one after another to a series of beings.
We are the current recipient, we've inherited this mindstream. With all the clay shows karma and dukkha, ready to ripen. Everything we do will help to cleanse and treat that mindstream--or not--so that we bequeath it to the next being in this generational stream of mind, in whatever condition we leave it.
In this view, we are stewards of this mind that we call "me." In the United States, certain indigenous peoples of this land are said to have made decisions about their society, their culture, their use of the land, and so forth, with a view towards how it would impact seven generations of peoples down the road. We can think of Buddhist practice, particularly when it comes to healing, as working with our mind, cultivating it, beautifying it, not only for our immediate benefit, not only for the benefit of those around us and this life, or those who come after us temporarily, or for human flourishing in general, but very specifically, so that we can pass it down to those in this stream of mind that we would call me, seven generations down, at least that far out, providing a mind stream that is poised, primed, and eager to encounter the Dharma, to continue rising up through healing, to transforming, and ultimately even transcending the dualistic habit.
If healing allows us to address the harms that are already present, another thing that Buddha's practice does is transform. This helps us to prevent creating new harms based on dualistic perception. The transformation is one of our attitude, our perspective, our engagement with life. There is still this undertone of dualistic habituation. But what healing has done is not only ease the injury already felt, but make it clear that the situation is not quite right.
Healing diagnoses dualistic mind as something for us to address. Transformation starts to happen right alongside the healing in any of the various ways that what is practice and acts teachings, and the various lineages and heritages of Buddhism throughout Asia, the Americas, Europe, and so forth, through the kindness of practitioners, teachers, and realized masters. Transforming is retraining dualistic perception, so that the treatment we have been able to effect in the healing stages does not just disintegrate.
If we heal, but then harm ourselves again, we never catch up. Transformation is that process whereby we meet experience with a more open, multi-dimensional understanding, a panoramic perspective that drops our biases and opens to more than we ever imagined. This panoramic perspective does not tie us to the harm that dualistic mind imposes on us. Part of that transformation is organic, simply the purifying of the habit, and the healing stage itself brings a more dynamic character to our engagement with life.
It also often brings us more dimensionality, even when it comes to sensory experiences, pleasure, pain, all of the different things that we take for granted in life. I often like to think of this as that part of the Wizard of Oz, where everything goes from black and white to color. We are still perceiving things dualistically, but there is so much more to it: more texture, more dimension, a whole layer of experience, we did not even imagine.
What's happening is the practice is building character. Our hearts are softening. So we do not have to arm ourselves against experiences that feel unpleasant or scary. We can hold the paradox of fear and creativity, rage and love, vulnerability and courage, allowing all of the various contradictions to coexist as they are
This may or may not be peaceful. That's not the point.
What it is, is true. We are owning the full range of our experience. No need for pretense, no need to downplay, deny, or overdramatize anything. We can be with our experience, just as it is, because this transformed perspective, this richer way of encountering life is capacious enough, bodacious enough to allow for all of it.
The more we transform, the more it's visible in our life, Our life becomes Fuller, it may not change a lot in the details. We may not be any richer, we may even be quite poor. When it comes to financial considerations. There may not be a lot of external differences. And yet, there is more flourishing in our well being, our response to whatever situations. There is less knee-jerk reactivity than we have experienced before. The more we transform, the more this becomes second nature. It is almost like we're installing a new operating system for our life with the Buddhist teachings as the view that runs the show.
Out of that space, we can be of more assistance to those we contact. We can embrace our experience as it is, and we can be with the discomfort of others as well as ourselves.
This is a truly beautiful way to live.
Surely, that's enough. What else can there be?
Let's see what the Buddha has to say about it:
Mind is burning. Ideas are burning, Consciousness is burning. Sense contact is burning, Whatever is felt as pleasant, painful, or neither pleasant nor painful, these are also burning,
Burning with what?
Burning with the fire of attachment, burning with the fire of aggression, burning with the fire of apathy. I say it is burning with birth, aging, and death, with sorrow with lamentation, with pain, with grief, with despair.
This is the suffering of samsara, of being caught in dualistic perception.
In a word, samsara is tragic.
Once we've healed from the harms, that dualistic mind has worked on us throughout samsara, and transformed our view to respond creatively, on the spot to whatever arises, if we are careful, and examine, we find that we are still entangled in misperception.
Our experience is ablaze with not knowing the true nature of things, and worse, mis-knowing the true nature of things.
Especially for those of us with the privilege of having home food, clothing, and sufficient financial resources to enjoy ourselves, it can feel very easy to stop at healing and transforming. To be content with a good life and human flourishing, rather than to keep listening to the Buddha, this ultimately skilled physician, reading even between the lines.
It is easy to say, you know what, I'm good. I'm not experiencing any of the major symptoms, I'm okay.
That is like the Buddha handing us a cure for cancer and saying, I am going to leave it in the medicine cabinet. Maybe we take it out once in a while, to disinfect a paper cut. Even though our body is burning with cancer.
This is far less than what the Buddha wants for us. With his wise, fearless love, the Buddha wants nothing less for us than all there is. Then all we are.
The Buddha, from the very first moment of our healing, is encouraging us to rise up to our true nature, our awakened heart, our own buddhahood, to the extent that we are utterly free of samsara altogether, without ever falling back.
No calamity comes to destroy all of the healing and transformation we have done.
All of the care we have put into this mindstream does not fall apart. The next generation and the next and the next seven generations down the road benefit from our care, our stewardship, our cultivation of this mind,
This can seem heavy. Why is that?
Dualistic mind really likes things to stay the way they are. It's all about the status quo. And making anything else seem heavy or superstitious, or out of reach, or foolish or anything else is a great way of ensuring the status quo. So is making anything else seem metaphysical, unrealistic, a thing of cultural baggage.
These are all fabulous tools for dualistic mind. They are finely honed and ready in the quiver of dualistic perception.
But here's the thing: when we're actually in the midst of healing, and transforming, what happens is, we feel the positivity that healing and transforming generates, that spiritual practice creates. It fuels a momentum that carries us onward with joy. The yearning to be free grows, and it calls us ceaselessly.
When we hear the Buddha speaking about everything burning, we know. We can feel what he is saying. It is not just words on a page. It is not just something we are told to believe. It is our experience.
Healing and transforming dualistic mind has allowed us to silence misperception just enough to keep going.
We can feel the heat of the wonder of knowing things as they are, the warmth of prajna in Sanskrit, precise knowledge, mind's innate capacity to know, beckoning us forward to break out of misperception altogether.
How do we do that? The sanity that comes from healing and the vitality that comes from transformation naturally lead us onward, to turn towards the darkness of ignorance, as it is called in the Mahamudra teachings.
This not knowing, this mis-knowing the true nature of things, including ourselves, our loved ones, our very lives, the world, and so much in a universe that we cannot even imagine is still blinding us.
Transcendence is what allows us to rise up above even healing, even transformation, to rise up above ignorance, to rise up above the duality of knowing or not knowing.
This is an important turning point. Our practice is at the crossroads.
This is where we choose either to make the best of samsara or transcend it altogether.
If we continue to follow the Buddha's course of treatment, the practice and the teachings fill us with aspiration, direction, and fearlessness. The Buddha teaches us to see and these practices harness mind's innate knowing, nourishing and growing it until it is able to transcend all that is dualistic--the darkness of ignorance, and even the light of prajna that counteracts it.
Ablaze like a thousand glorious suns, all dualistic perception incinerated, never to return. What's left is jnana, gnosis, nondual wisdom.
This is transcendence, enlightenment, overturning the misperception of samsara, to find that, all along, its very essence has been and is nirvana.
Manifesting this true nature, our awakening, our own buddhanature, we are in turn able to call to all beings with whom we have a connection. Those we know in this life and love dearly, those we have lost and those we have no inkling we ever had any connection to, and who are nevertheless a part of this intricate fabric of relationship, this whole cloth of our connection to all that lives--which is what we are.
It may seem like a lot for us right now. This habit of dualistic mind wants us to stick with what we know. What we can see or hear or measure, making samsara great again, rather than heeding the Buddha's call to overturn it altogether.
The temptation of that habit is great.
Our Buddha nature is greater.
Every moment of our life is a pivot. Moment, by moment, we can choose enlightenment over self-imposed limitation, smallness and gloom. And it is not just something we do once and never again, or lose the opportunity. There are no mistakes, no missed opportunities. We can choose it again and again, as many times as we need.
Our life, the trajectory of this mind, now and in the future generations of beings who will inherit it, are transformed and healed, and ultimately transcend even this mind stream. This very mind stream that we now have in our hands, in our stewardship.
No need to be overwhelmed. We do what we can, healing the mind, transforming the mind. And little by little, we move closer to that transcendence. With each act, each aspiration each life, we rise up to claim our birthright, our purpose, our true nature, the infinite knowledge, compassion and power to benefit ourselves and all beings without limit.
Our Buddha nature, our true being.
This is transcendence.
This is awakening.
Rise up, and claim it.
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Guided Meditation Practice by Lama Zopa
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