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Lions Roar : March 2006
46 SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2006 However, magic doesn't suddenly exist. The magic depends on the magician, and the magician depends on his trainers, so magic cannot appear unless there is a magical situation or environment. The sudden, magical "zap" we have been told about is purely mythical. The zap cannot take place unless you are in the situation to be zapped. Auto- matically, the zapping is part of a gradual process rather than a sudden experience. NO ONE CAN SAVE US from the state of chaos or samsara unless we understand the meaning of chaos and confusion, unless we have experienced it and suffered from it. Otherwise, although we may be in the midst of chaos, we don't notice it. You don't begin to notice chaos until you are already on the path. Then you begin to feel uncom- fortable. You feel that something is a nuisance. Something's bugging you constantly. You realize the chaos when you are already making the journey. We should also understand that the spiritual journey we are discussing-the so-called journey and so-called spirituality-has nothing to do with the "spirit." Here, "spiritual" refers to the self-existing healthiness that everyone of us possesses. We are not talking about the mythical concept of God or some divine power that we cannot understand but we feel we have to accept. We are talking about something very literal and real. The spiritual journey can only take place if we make ourselves available to the path, to begin with. The path is you. If we didn't drive motorcars, we wouldn't have high- ways. Because people drive cars, therefore we have roads and highways. It is an inter- dependent thing. You exist; therefore, the path exists. It is very personal-as well as impersonal. The path exists because of you, but on the other hand, a lot of other people can tread on your path. That is the meaning of sangha, or community. You discover the path and you are the maker of the path-as far as you are concerned-but having created the path, a lot of others use that path. The shamatha experience, the slow process of mindfulness that takes place on the beginner's level, allows us to be available to ourselves. Before we become missionaries or social workers, whether in the conventional sense or on the level of bodhisattvas and tantric practitioners, we have to work with ourselves and pull ourselves together. The first step towards being a social worker or a preacher is to make sure that you don't become a nuisance to others. The starting point is the shamatha practice of medita- tion, in which we begin to catch ourselves being a nuisance to ourselves. We find all kinds of thought problems, emotional hang-ups, and physical problems with medita- tion-problems of all kinds. We find that we are being a nuisance to ourselves, let alone being a nuisance to oth- ers. We get angry with ourselves, saying: "I could do better than this. What's wrong with me? I seem to be getting worse. I'm going backwards." We're angry at the whole world, including ourselves. Everything we see is an insult. The universe becomes the expres- sion of total insult. One has to relate with that. If you are going to exert your power and energy to walk on the path, you have to work with yourself. The first step is to make friends with yourself. That is almost the motto of sha- matha experience. Making friends with yourself means accepting and acknowledging yourself. You work with your subconscious gossip, fantasies, dreams-everything. And everything that you learn about yourself you bring back to the technique, to the aware- ness of the breathing, which was taught by the Buddha. Having made friends with yourself, you feel a sense of relief and excitement. At the same time, you should be careful not to get overly excited about your accomplishment. You are still a schoolboy or a schoolgirl. If last night's homework was good, that doesn't