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Lions Roar : May 2013
SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2013 47 The brilliance of this teaching is that right away it gives you something to work with. Instead of dreaming of how things might be or should be, you begin simply with what is right in front of you. You begin to make a transition from feeling vic- timized: you see that since you are actually responsible for your situation, you yourself can change it. So instead of despairing that “you made your bed, now lie in it,” it is more like “you made your bed, so you can unmake it as well.” This is the third noble truth—cessation, the possibility of freedom. And finally, with great practicality, the Buddha gave detailed instructions on how to move forward. This is the path, the fourth noble truth. Meditation Like the Hinayana view, which is the founda- tion for the entire path, the meditation practices of the Hinayana continue right through the Mahayana and Vajrayana. The cen- tral practices are twofold, shamatha and vipashyana—mindful- ness and awareness. Basically, shamatha is the practice of taming the mind; it is a stilling and settling of the mind. Vipashyana means “clear see- ing,” and it has two aspects. There is an inquisitive, investiga- tive component, and also a direct perceptual component that comes when the mind relaxes and opens out. Both shamatha and vipashyana are ways of gaining sophistication about the working of your own mind and the play of thoughts and emotions. As a result, you are less captured by your opinions and judgments and not so easily overwhelmed by the intensities of your emotions. There is a quality of kindness and self-acceptance. Action The Hinayana is all about slowing down and sim- plifying. There is a paring down of experience at all levels, with fewer distractions, fewer thoughts, less drama, fewer entangle- ments. When you act simply, with mindfulness, your actions have more power. You speak when something needs to be said, and you act when action is needed. You are learning how to be, and you manifest the power of simple genuine presence. In the Hinayana, there is also a quality of restraint. You prac- tice the discipline of refraining from harmful actions. Because you are less caught in speediness of mind, you can recognize the arising of impulsive, negative action and nip it in the bud. The view, practice, and action of the Hinayana set you on the path of dharma. They help you build the mental, emotional, and meditative health you need to grow in your dharmic under- standing and realization. They prepare you well for the journey. Mahayana: The Bodhisattva Path of Wisdom and Compassion T HE M AHAYANA is a natural outgrowth of the Hinayana. It is the simplifying and paring down of the Hinayana that makes the expansiveness of Mahayana possible. Doing the hard work of inves- tigating your own nature and your preconceptions about the world changes you in significant ways. You become more self-accepting, gentler, more real and genuine. When you have become a better friend to yourself, you are ready to be a better friend to others. View In the Mahayana you see yourself as inextricably con- nected with all other beings, and because of that your individual path expands and broadens. Your Hinayana training has brought you to the point where you sense the underlying inclination of all beings to awaken, and you gain more confidence in your own potential. At the same time, you recognize that focusing on your