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Lions Roar : July 2012
SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2012 71 there is a gap. There is no time to refer back to yourself as “I am doing this,” no time to relate with “me” or ego awareness at all. There is just simple awareness. That awareness is regarded as the heart of meditation in action. It is compassion. A person might develop the patience to repeat that glimpse many times in a day. By doing so, that glimpse of compassion and emptiness cuts the chain reaction of karmic causal characteris- tics. At the same time, you are communicating fully and com- pletely. When the penetrating is going on, when the puncturing is occurring, when you are cutting the chain, you are catching a quick glimpse of buddhanature at the same time. So, first there is maitri, trusting in the heart. Second, there is a gap in which you experience the openness of tathagatagarbha, or buddhanature. Third, there is a sense of communication— having already woken up at that level, there is a sense of free- dom to expand and to relate with your actions, whatever you are doing. That seems to be how to develop compassion. A problem occurs if we begin to hold on to or try to analyze that experience. Then the analytical mind begins to pollute the freshness of that sudden glimpse. So from the point of view of avoiding that obstacle, we should understand that we don’t have to develop compassion. We simply acknowledge what is already there. We are just seeing it, looking at it. There is an applicable analogy here from the Bodhicaryava- tara, Shantideva’s great text on the path of the bodhisattva. The text says that if a person is in a state of rage and sees a picture of the Buddha painted on the wall, the merit of seeing that picture is not wasted. When you see an image of the Buddha it has all kinds of associations, such as evoking the idea of friendliness. Seeing that compassionate Buddha creates a sudden glimpse in your mind that cuts through rage and aggression. It might not cut through completely or ideally. You won’t just flop like a punctured balloon—that would be expecting magic. However, just that glimpse of the image of the Buddha de-intensifies the pressure of neurotic speed. Fundamentally, the pressure of ego’s speed is what causes aggression and stupidity. You don’t have a chance to examine anything when you are carried away by such great speed. As you drive yourself along through this speed, you collect all kinds of garbage, which is passion, grasping. A sudden flash of compas- sion cuts that speed, or at least slows it down. Somebody had to decide to puncture your car tire—which is you! As a result, you collect less dust and less garbage on your woolly tail. The whole situation becomes more spacious and workable. This applies not only to you personally, but it expands to working with other people as well. For instance, you may want to help somebody. You feel so excited about helping them that you become very ambitious about the project. You want to make a clean sweep, create a new person. However, your style is so ambitious, so speedy, that you fail to realize the details of what kind of help that person actually needs. From the other person’s point of view, you become a clown, pretending to help him or her. There is no respect. And from your point of view, there is no time. You want to make a clean sweep, but instead you only create a thicker skin for that person, who begins to see through you and your speed. Seemingly, you are acting in the name of compassion, but there is no room to be compassionate. In fact, your gesture is an uncompassionate act. There is no time taken and no patience. That kind of obstacle can be saved by a sudden glimpse. Such looking, such a com- passionate glimpse, becomes extremely powerful and naturally workable. Such an approach to compassion also brings a sense of genu- ine communication with other people. You are constantly relat- ing with other people in everyday life situations, not only when there is a state of extreme emotional upheaval. That awareness flashing again and again produces friendliness. Behind your seeming vulnerability, subconsciously or consciously, you begin to develop a sense of confidence. You can afford to be open- hearted. You can afford to invite all those guests into your terri- tory and work with them, entertain them. Compassion is not only the logical conclusion that you are going to be okay. It is almost a subconscious trick, you might call it, to deliberately create that sudden glimpse constantly. Look- ing back or looking forward, there is openness. Seemingly, such looking destroys the ground of ego—but surprisingly it doesn’t become a state of loss or a state of shock from the point of view of ego. Instead, it becomes something fundamentally sane, fun- damentally workable and smooth. This type of compassion is what bodhisattvas practice, and it seems that we can get into it ourselves. We can do so very simply—as long as we don’t try to recreate past experiences or future expectations of the glimpse, but just look. Look! Look! The idea of compassion is direct. The idea of becoming enlight- ened one day is not far away. It is very close, if we are not indeed enlightened already. Compassion becomes very real and direct. Enlightenment ceases to be a dream. As that basic ground of compassion is set on the path, then almost magically there is a quality of openness, almost ambition. It is ambition in the positive sense, that you would like to extend an invitation to your guests all the time. ♦ We could create that situation at this very moment— a quick glimpse of awareness that is not watched or confirmed. Just awareness. A quick glimpse.