using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Lions Roar : January 2011
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2011 41 the end of one frame and the beginning of the next. We never see the imageless space between the frames, just as we never see the space of awareness between one thought and another. We end up living in a fabricated world made up of these three aspects of relative mind. layer by layer, we have constructed a solid reality that has become a burden, locked us into a small space, a corner of our being, and locked out much of who we re- ally are. usually, we think of a prison as something made of walls and prisoners as people locked inside, removed from the world for their crimes. such inmates have basic routines that get them through the day, but the possibilities for a full experience and enjoyment of life are severely limited. We are confined in a similar way, locked inside the prison walls of our conceptual world. the Buddha taught that what lies at the bottom of all this is ignorance: the state of not knowing who we truly are, of not recognizing our natural state of freedom and our potential for happiness, fulfillment, and enjoyment of life. our natural State of Freedom this ignorance is a kind of blindness that leads us to believe that the movie we’re watching is real. as I mentioned earlier, when we be- lieve that this busy mind—this stream of emotions and concepts— is who we truly are, it’s like being asleep and dreaming without knowing we’re dreaming. When we don’t know we’re asleep and in a dream state, we have no control over our dream life. the Buddha taught that the key to waking up and unlocking the door of our prison is self-knowledge, which extinguishes ignorance like a light being turned on in a room that has been dark for a very long time. the light immediately illuminates the whole room, regardless of how long it has been dark, and we can see what we haven’t seen before—our true nature, our natural state of freedom. Freedom can happen swiftly. One moment, we’re bound by something, the sum total of our life—our concepts about who we are, our position in the world, the force and weight of our relationships to people and places; we’re caught in the fabric of all that. then, at another moment, it’s gone. there is nothing ob- structing us. We’re free to walk out the door. In fact, our prison dissolves around us, and there’s nothing to escape from. What has changed is our mind. the self that was caught, trapped, is freed the minute that the mind changes and perceives space instead of a prison. If there is no prison, then there can be no prisoner. In fact, there never was a prison except in our mind, in the concepts that became the brick and mortar of our confinement. this is not to say that there are no real prisons—no jails or jail- ers, no forces in the world that can confine, inhibit, or restrict us. I’m not saying that it’s all just a thought that can be swept away. We should not ignore any aspect of our reality. But even those prisons and negative forces arose from the thoughts of others; they’re all products of someone’s mind, someone’s confusion. even though we can’t do much about that right away, we do have the power to work with our own mind now, and eventually we’ll develop the wisdom to work with the minds of others. Unchanging Mind When the Buddha taught about this impermanent and composite (or “put together”) nature of the relative mind, he did so in order to introduce his disciples to the ultimate nature of mind: pure, un- fabricated, unchanging awareness. here Buddhism departs radically from theological concepts like original sin that view humankind as spiritually tainted by some hereditary violation of divine law. the Buddhist view asserts that the nature of all beings is primordially pure and replete with positive qualities. Once we wake up enough to see through our confusion, we see that even our problematic thoughts and emotions are, at heart, part of this pure awareness. seeing this naturally brings us a sense of relaxation, joy, and humor. We don’t need to take anything too seriously, because everything we experience on the relative level is illusory. From the point of view of the ultimate, it’s like a lucid dream, the vivid play of mind itself. When we’re awake in a dream, we don’t take anything that happens in the dream too seriously. It’s like going on the big rides at disney World. One ride will take us up in the night sky with stars all around and the lights of a city below. It’s so beautiful and we enjoy it, but we don’t take it to be real. and when we ride through the haunted house, the ghosts, skeletons, and monsters might surprise us for an instant or two, but they’re also funny, because we know they aren’t real. In the same way, when we discover the true nature of our mind, we’re relieved from a fundamental anxiety, a basic sense of fear and worry about the appearances and experiences of life. the true na- ture of mind says, “Why stress out? just relax and enjoy yourself.” that’s our choice, unless we have an exceptionally strong tendency to fight all the time; then even disney World becomes a horrible place. that’s also our choice. Our modern world is full of options these days, so wherever we are, we can do it either way. many people have asked what this kind of awareness is like. Is the experience of this “true nature” like becoming a vegetable, being in a coma, or having alzheimer’s? no. In fact, it’s nothing like that. Our relative mind becomes better functioning. When we take a break from our habitual labeling, our world becomes clear. We’re free to see clearly; think clearly; and feel the living, wakeful quality of our emotions. the openness, spaciousness, and freshness of the experience make it a beautiful place to be. Imagine standing on a scenic mountain peak and looking at the Even our problematic thoughts and emotions are, at heart, pure awareness. Seeing this naturally brings us a sense of relaxation, joy, and humor. ➢ page 68