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Lions Roar : January 2013
apart from it, all that we think we need and do not have. No eyes, no ears, and so on doesn’t deny the physical; it redefines it. Things do exist—only not in the way we think they do. And when the sutra lists and negates basic Buddhist teachings, it doesn’t mean the teachings are false or unreal. It means they are true in a freer, more expansive, less literal and substan- tial way than we thought. The Heart Sutra showed me from the start that I could hold and practice the Buddhist teachings in a light, flexible, open-handed way. I didn’t have to become pious. Piety is empty, the Heart Sutra says. Buddhism is empty. And that is why it liberates us. The other side of emptiness, or, one could say, its content, is connection, rela- tionality. When I am bound inside my own skin and others are bound inside theirs, I have to defend and protect myself from them. And when I place myself among them, as I must, I better do that carefully, which is hard work, because I am often hurt, opposed, and thwarted by others. But when there’s openness, no boundary, between myself and others— when it turns out that I literally am others and others literally are me, then love and connection is easy and natural. Nagarjuna, the most influential of all Buddhist thinkers, seized on the empti- ness teachings as the cornerstone of his Madhyamika, or Middle Way, approach. It’s not that things “exist” (heavy, hard, and isolated) or “don’t exist” (in despair- ing nihilism). The truth is in the middle: things are empty of both existence and non-existence. There are no “things” at all and never were. There is only connection, only love. This, Nagarjuna argues, is not a new doctrine; it is what the Buddha was pointing to from the start. This is why the emptiness teaching of the Heart Sutra, which seems to be rather philosophical and dour, is the necessary basis for compassion. Emptiness and compassion go hand in hand. Compas- sion as transaction—me over here, being compassionate to you over there—is sim- ply too clunky and difficult. If I am going to be responsible to receive your suffering and do something about it, and if I am Ligmincha Institute, Nelson County, Va. Learn more, view a webcast, register for retreats: Ligmincha.org / 434.263.6304 Subscribe to our free monthly e-newsletter at VoiceOfClearLight.org TENZIN WANGYAL RINPOCHE is the founding director of Ligmincha Institute. In his more than 20 years of living and teaching in the West, Ten- zin Rinpoche has become renowned for his ability to convey the ancient wisdom of Bön Buddhism in a way that is highly relevant to Western students. His books include Heal- ing With Form, Energy and Light; Tibetan Sound Healing; The Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep; Awaken- ing the Sacred Body; Tibetan Yogas of Body, Speech, and Mind; and the new Awakening the Luminous Mind (Hay House, June 2012). PHOTO: JANINE GULDENER ANNUAL WINTER RETREAT Dec. 27, 2012 – Jan. 1, 2013 Dzogchen Teachings EXPERIENTIAL TRANSMISSION PART V prerequisites required With Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche ANNUAL SPRING RETREAT April 10 – 14, 2013 Embracing Impermanence INNER REFUGE IN THE FACE OF CHANGE With Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche ANNUAL SUMMER RETREAT June 23 – July 13, 2013 Dzogchen Teachings THE 21 NAILS With Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche FREE LIVE WEBCASTS With Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche Dec. 30, 2012, 3 p.m. EST (New York time) Apr. 13, 2013, 3 p.m. EST (New York time) Additional live webcast dates for 2013 to be announced SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2013 82