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Lions Roar : May 2014
begins. It is there that the teachings can begin to take hold, not as ego’s accouterment nor as a surface adornment but as a deep-rooted transformative energy reaching right down to our bones. So like the Christian mystics, we too need to abandon our familiar world, leave everything behind, and go to the des- ert. In this case, the desert is our own mind. This desert mind is what is left when our project of continual distraction has fallen apart. We can learn a lot by observing how we oscillate between distraction or entertainment and boredom. Boredom has an edge to it. We feel our ground slipping away; we struggle to find some way to secure ourselves. There is too much space; we need to fill it. There is nothing happening; we need to do something. It is too quiet; something must be wrong. Paying attention to these kinds of responses to boredom is extremely valuable. It is a great practice. And when you feel that you absolutely must do something about it, stay with the boredom a bit longer! Let yourself feel bored com- pletely. In this way you might be able to get a glimpse of what Trungpa Rinpoche called “cool boredom,” an experi- ence refreshingly free of grasping, pretense, and struggle. In cool boredom, you can finally let go of the burden of trying to be someone. you can have a break from the project of “I.” going further, we need to address an even more funda- mental level of distractedness. According to the Vajrayana teachings, what we are fundamentally distracting ourselves from is awakening. We are habitually distracting ourselves from the challenge of confronting our own wisdom. We dis- tract ourselves from the intensity of the present moment, the immediacy of the teachings, and our own genuineness. As soon as we have even a little glimpse of this potential, we panic and scramble to get away. We can handle an arm’s- length relationship to the dharma, which is inspiring yet somewhat manageable. But when that comfortable distance collapses and we face the full intensity of the teachings, we cop out by manufacturing distractions on the spot. For most of us, this level of distraction is more or less continuous. Throughout the Buddhist path, we are working with dis- tractions at many levels of depth. In fact, distractions and the path pretty much go hand in hand. you could even con- sider distractions to be your best teachers. Like good teachers, distractions humiliate us and shake us up. They abruptly cut through our pretensions. It is shock- ingtoseehowoutofitwearesomuchofthetime.Atany level, distractions can be annoying, frustrating, and arise willy-nilly. But, like good teachers, they also spur us for- ward. The very moment a distraction arises, there also arises a chance to break through to what lies behind it. And what lies behind these endless distractions is the boundless space of awakened mind. ♦ Robot k 456 by Nam June Paik PHOTOByHANS-CHRISTIANPLAMBECk/LAIF/REDUx distractions is threatening, even terrifying, if we stay with that experience even a little, the smoke begins to clear and we can start to see in a completely new way. Christian mystics say that you need to go through a dark night of the soul before entering into the presence of god. It is like the analogy of the light at the end of the tunnel. No dark night, no union with god; no tunnel, no light. Trungpa Rinpoche also talked about the importance of this stage of development. He taught that when students have become completely frustrated— when their practice has brought them to the point of giving up hope and thinking of abandoning the whole path—that is precisely the point where the real journey of awakening SHAMBHALA SUN MAy 2014 48