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Lions Roar : May 2013
SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2013 49 mind to realize the nonconceptual. You do so with such diligence, putting so much energy and fuel into the project, that eventually the struggling conceptual mind simply burns itself out. A key aspect of Mahayana practice is that you continually bring compassion and wisdom into balance. There is no real wisdom without compassion, and no real compassion without wisdom. Fundamentally the two are inseparable, but it is pos- sible to lose that balance, so it must continually be restored. Action In the Hinayana you cultivated the discipline of restraint, of refraining from harmful actions. On that basis you can afford to extend yourself. In the Mahayana, your discipline is not only to limit harmful actions but to increase activities that are of benefit to yourself and others. You are challenged to push beyond your comfort zone and be willing to engage fully with the world. The notion of virtuous action in the Mahayana has great depth. Six fundamental principles serve as guidelines: generos- ity, discipline, patience, exertion, meditation, and knowledge. These are known as the six transcendent perfections, or param- itas. There is constant interplay among these six and a variety of checks and balances. And underlying all of them is the basic Mahayana principle of putting others before yourself. There is a subtlety in the approach to action in the Mahayana. If you are attached to the idea of being virtuous, if you are fix- ated on results, if you want a pat on the back, it is no longer real virtue. You may accomplish a certain level of benefit, but if your actions are less tainted by those kinds of concerns, you can accomplish much more. Without that kind of residue, there is a lightness and humor in your actions, as well as great depth and power. Vajrayana: The Tantric Path of Indestructible Wakefulness T HE THIRD and final yana is the Vajrayana, which is also known as tantra. It is the natural fruition of the groundwork laid by the Hinayana, and the expansion of the path in the Mahayana. In the three-yana system, the Vajrayana is the fruition, the end- point, yet it is also a continuation of what has come before. The Vajrayana does not leave the Hinayana and Mahayana behind; it incorporates the views and practices of the previous two yanas and builds on them. You gather your energy in the Hinayana and extend out in the Mahayana. In the Vajrayana you dive into reality completely. When you dive in without hesitation, the world is seen as sacred, and your ordinary vision is transformed into sacred outlook. At this point you are already steeped in the view and practices of the buddhadharma, so the time has come to fully manifest what you have learned. It is the Vajrayana that shows you how to do that, and so it is known as the yana of skillful means. View In the Vajrayana your view is expansive. It is as if you have been trudging along a mountain trail for miles and miles and finally reach the top, where at long last you have a chance to see the entire panorama. You experience your ordinary world in a fresh way and the most mundane experiences are seen to be infused with sacredness. The Vajrayana view is nontheistic, yet you expe- rience this sacred world as filled with deities, filled with teachers and teaching, filled with symbolism. In the Vajrayana you begin to touch in to a realm of boundless space that is both luminous and page 92