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Lions Roar : May 2017
the basic nature of mind and reality as the foundation for practice. But how do you have that kind of certainty with- out falling into the trap of conceptual, solidified answers? JUDY LIEF: That’s a big question. “Cer- tainty in the view” is an easily misunder- stood phrase, because it sounds like “I believe in X, Y, or Z. This is my view and I’m going to hold to it.” This is one of those Vajrayana jokes. It’s really certainty in no view. Or, it’s sometimes said, it’s certainty in the sacredness of the world. It’s the view that the world is luminous and com- pletely ungraspable, and resting in that. MELVIN MCLEOD: The mind of questioning or not knowing con- nects to the level of absolute reality, which can also be called emp- tiness or nondualism. But in the relative world, we constantly need to make judgments and find answers in order to live. Particularly in these fraught times, a lot of people are struggling to reconcile the mind of openness and a relative world that demands answers. NORMAN FISCHER: Everything is one thing in the dark, but when you turn on the lights, many different things appear. On one level, yes, everything is nondual—there’s no difference between one thing and another. So we recognize the oneness of everything, the emptiness of all dharmas. But on another level, we recognize each thing arising as its own unique and independent existence. Now, these are different only con- ceptually. We use those two concepts, but in reality they’re the same thing. To say that everything is one thing and to say that everything is distinct and different are just two ways of say- ing exactly the same thing. When you act in the world, you must make dualistic choices every day. That’s especially true in this time of dramatic politi- cal events. But if you make those choices without reference to the other level we’ve been talking about—this deeper apprecia- tion of reality that comes from questioning—you’re going to be full of anxiety and fear. In that case, your chances of acting wisely are tremendously diminished and you’re probably only going to contribute to the craziness. That’s why my practice is more important to me than ever, so I can keep strong with my sense of connection to myself and the world while I figure out what I can do to be of service to reduce suffering. In other words, I have to act dualistically on a foundation of a bigger reality than the dualistic reality. That’s not too easy, actually, but I don’t know any other way. JUDY LIEF: On a practical level, there are times one needs to meditate, to pull back, and there are times one needs to go for- When life is an open question, life is appreciation. We have been given the gift of this magical, mysterious, imposs- ible-to-define life! — NORMAN FISCHER LION’S ROAR | MAY 2017 70