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Lions Roar : September 2007
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2007 20 sense of nonexistence. Looking for the truth has led to certainty. Now we meditate; we stay with that insight, although it might be short— perhaps only a few seconds. Then certainty shifts to uncertainty: “I felt the possibility of selflessness, but now it’s dissipating.” What has happened? In our mind we have room for one truth. Things either exist or they don’t. Mostly our minds are full of exis- tence. As we begin to look closely at something, nonexistence begins to creep in, and for a brief moment that truth resonates in our con- sciousness. Then the other one comes back. So we return to analyz- ing. Thus, in this practice we alternate between investigating and resting in the result of our investigation. Studying helps remind us of what we have heard. These three activities create a stable path. Hearing, contemplating, and meditating take some effort. But we are already doing this kind of meditation; we are always gathering information about and analyzing our world to prove that it exists. When we wake up in the morning we think about where we are, how our relationships are developing, how we look in our clothing, and how our food makes us feel. Then we meditate on the view that we are really here. We can do this kind of meditation endlessly but it will never be stable, because it is not based upon the truth. People say, “Trying to understand emptiness is too hard.” Emptiness is hard to understand because it’s beyond concept. What’s important is having faith in it, wanting to see things that way. The best kind of faith is self-generated. The more we experi- ence the possibility of emptiness, the more faith we have in our understanding. We’ve taken time to really look at things, and we see that they are not as they appear. We have a moment of letting go. What causes that kind of insight? Contemplating reality and developing certainty in the view of emptiness. Any experience of clear seeing is preceded by the mind know- ing freedom from the four extremes. We sit and see how this thing called “existence” is always dissolving. No longer do we resist non- existence, because we’ve experienced that truth and it supports us. The spark of certainty fuels the fire of understanding in our daily life; we’re not trying so hard to fight impermanence. Letting go becomes a little easier, because we are beginning to understand that what we are attached to is not really there. Letting go of our belief in the solidity of appearances starts a chain reaction. By the same logic, if we can understand selflessness, then the seeming solidity of everything else will begin to dissolve. Most of us do not believe the view of selflessness, because we are in samsara. But as we meditate on the nonexistence of existence, we come to a certain conclusion. We have an insight. We sit there with it. By prolonging that insight, we may eventu- ally have a direct experience of how things are, which is buddha. What is buddha made of? Emptiness and compassion. Empti- ness and compassion in complete unity is freedom from the four extremes. That is vipashyana, clear seeing. ♦ SAKYONG MIPHAM RINPOCHE is the spiritual leader of Shambhala International, a network of Buddhist meditation and retreat centers. He is the author of Turning the Mind into an Ally and Ruling Your World. Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia October 20–22, 2007 His Holiness the Dalai Lama Educating the Heart and Mind: A Path to Universal Responsibility For more information and to register for email updates, visit www.dalailama.emory.edu. SEPT 18-35.indd 20 SEPT 18-35.indd 20 6/25/07 4:46:48 PM 6/25/07 4:46:48 PM