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Lions Roar : May 2007
SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2007 34 So our emptiness has two sides: the negative, problematic aspect is a sense of lack. The other aspect is being in touch with, and a part of, something greater than my sense of self—or greater than I usually understand myself to be. Significantly, the original Buddhist term usually translated as emptiness (Pali shunnata, Sanskrit shunyata) actually has this double-sided meaning. It derives from the root shu, which means “swollen” in both senses: not only the swollenness of a blown-up balloon but also the swollenness of an expectant woman, pregnant with possi- bility. So a more accurate translation of sunyata would be “emptiness/fullness,” which describes quite well the experience of our own spiritual emptiness, both the problem and the solution. These two ways of experiencing our emptiness are not mutually exclusive. I think many of us go back and forth, usually bothered by our sense of lack, but also occasionally experiencing our emptiness more positively as a source of spontaneity and creativity, like ath- letes do when they are “in the zone.” The point isn’t to get rid of the self: that’s not possible, for there is no self and never has been. Nor do we want to get rid of the sense of self: that would be a very unpleasant type of mental retardation. Rather, what we work toward is a more permeable, less dualistic sense of self, more aware of—and more comfortable with—its empty constructedness. The two aspects of the spiritual path, deconstructing and reconstructing one’s sense of self, are obviously related and reinforce each other. Meditation is letting go, getting back to the emptiness/fullness at our core, and this practice also helps to reconstruct the sense of self, most ob- viously by helping us to be more mind- ful in daily life. The two processes assist each other indefinitely. As the Japanese proverb says, even the Buddha is only halfway there. Buddhist practice is about deepening the samadhi that rests in one’s empty core, while we also keep working to reconstruct ourselves into self-less com- passionate beings devoted to the welfare and awakening of everyone. ♦ His Holiness Menri Trizin 33rd, Lungtok Tenpai Nyima, “throne-holder” and spiritual leader of the Bon religion, will return to the USA to transmit the last of a three-part teaching on the uniquely Bon A-Tri Dzogchen meditation system. This teaching will include the practice of phowa (rainbow transformation) and A-Tri Dzogchen initiation. Students wishing to receive these teachings need not have attended any of the previous retreats. H. H. Menri Trizin 33rd WORLD LEADER OF BON TO GIVE THIRD A-TRI DZOGCHEN TEACHING IN USA October 30 – November 4, 2007 Garrison Institute, Garrison, New York For further information, visit www.bonfoundation.org Sonoma County Retreat Center For Sale Situated 11/2 Hours North of San Francisco B eautiful, serene retreat center set amidst a secluded valley, only 30 minutes from the ocean. Open sunny meadows, stately redwoods, delightful landscap- ing, seasonal creek and multiple buildings all set on over 38 acres. T he buildings consist of two 5-bedroom houses, a large meditation hall with adjoining rooms, a conference building, and various other multi-purpose buildings. Many tasteful upgrades. $2.485m Contact: