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Lions Roar : July 2014
rience real choice. usually we think we have choices when we really don’t. we think we are the actual controller of experi- ence, not seeing how in reality situations and experiences control us. secretly we try to fix conditions to shape our experi- ence. we have a hidden agenda but no real choice. recognizing this is very hard for the ego to accept. it is why we need to bring this gutsy, heroic attitude to our training. when liberation takes place within us, there is a freedom of choice. we know how to let things be, know how to hold on at times, and how to be free even when things get messy. how many people are afraid of their own shadow, their own thoughts and feelings? how many have inner conflicts that destroy them—making war, making strife, living in the bubble of their own self-generated worlds? we have these experiences because we don’t have liberation in our heart and in our being. when we have this liberation, then we have true confidence rooted in freedom. we have the dzogchen point of view. with continued training in this view, we learn to live in harmony with the natural state. we feel the radiance of reality in our being. at the same time, what is not in harmony with the natural state diminishes. misunderstandings, distortions, and confusions are less solid and compelling, and seem more dreamlike. this is a different approach than deciding up front what needs to be kept or kicked out in our practice and our lives. honestly, in the beginning we really don’t know what is in tune with reality or not anyway. with this practice, fear can still arise, but since we have some certainty on how to be free, we know how to work with it. the fear we deal with first is what i call distorted, unreasonable fear, rooted in past habits and emotional baggage. dealing with this is the realm of what i call “Buddhist therapy.” then a deeper, existential fear can arise. we experience how strong our fear of existence is, of just being. it is really scary to be in samsara, because everything is impermanent. we could die sud- denly in a car accident, get a fatal disease, or lose a loved one forever. yet even this basic fear vanishes as the practice develops. we experience deep relaxation in our very bones. there is nothing, ultimately, to fear, and we can sigh with relief. high realization is when the subtle fear of existence has been transcended, including the fear of death. rebirth is expe- rienced like moving from one house to another, not such a big deal. milarepa said, “i fled to the mountains out of the fear of death and now i have captured the stronghold of deathless- ness.” he had gone beyond this root fear of existence. if we want to capture this stronghold of innate deathlessness, we need to work with the phenomena right in front of us—the five aggregates, or skandhas. all of these are emptiness. percep- tions are emptiness, conceptions are emptiness, sensations are emptiness, and all the forms we experience are emptiness. once we understand this fully through experience, then clinging is gone completely. we are fearless, confident, and naturally happy. ♦ SHAMBHALA SUN JULy 2014 61