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 : March 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2009 67 munities can respond to these questions in lots of different ways and come to very different conclusions. The important thing is that we keep holding the questions, keep examining our assumptions and conclusions, because all of this is still very much a work in progress. It’s alive, it’s exciting, and this exploration might end up being one of the West’s great con- tributions to the onflowing Way. ...the love that is enlightenment because it is the unity of experience. — VIMaLakIrTI Over time, someone in apprenticeship to awakening is not so buffeted by the movement from cloistered practice to daily life. She becomes aware that there’s really only one practice going on, and its location at any given time becomes less and less critical. The pure lands on either side of the boundary are receding, while the border town grows. This unified practice gets at once simpler and more pervading; it’s like breathing. Inhale and exhale. Turning away and turning toward. Down and deep, out and wide. Wells and acequias. What once seemed like two activities or focuses of attention are now aspects of one. You can’t hold your breath forever, and you can’t breathe out forever, either. We don’t call this inhale- and-exhale; we call it breathing. In the same way, the appren- tice begins to experience a one whole practice, a one whole path, under her feet wherever she is. awakening is the unity, the breathing that is made of inhale and exhale. It’s the through line and the base note of our lives. If at the start the apprentice has a sense that the continuity in her life is provided by the self, a profound shift of allegiance eventually occurs. She sees that the self rises and falls; she climbs into the self when she needs it, and sometimes when she’s deeply absorbed in meditation or art or physical exertion it disappears altogether. underneath it all, awakening unfolds with each new experience, and it won’t be complete in this lifetime until she draws her last breath. This awakening isn’t thicker or more accessible in some places than others. awakening happens in the meditation hall, and it also happens on the freeway and in the sickbed. In any moment of any day, awakening is already there, and in any moment of any day we might come to experience it. We can leave that to chance or we can practice, which puts us in col- laboration with awakening rather than making us exclusively reliant on grace. Most of us have figured out that practice isn’t something we do only at specific times and in specific ways, but something we’re doing in all the moments of our lives. What the apprentice to awakening comes to see is that she’s not bringing something she gets from formal practice into the rest of her life; she’s allowing that practice to change her, to soak in and stain her completely, so that she is now that stained person in every moment of her life. awakening is also her willingness to be soaked and stained by other things— to feel the caress, to take the hit, to be devastated by a bit of news from the other side of the world, to let an encounter with beauty change her mind about everything. allowing all these things to break open her heart is an essential part of the ap- prenticeship, because without it awakening can’t be whole. Sometimes the long arc of awakening is punctuated by great breakthroughs. In an instant, the true nature of things becomes vivid. The apprentice sees the emptiness of everything, meaning that she experiences how big and radiant everything is, and how everything is connected to everything else. People have these experiences in the meditation hall after years of practice, and they have them spontaneously as children, or in the most un- likely of circumstances. awakening isn’t snobbish about where and when it reveals itself, so we probably shouldn’t be, either. a breakthrough will leak away, though, unless we ground the experience. Without a way to deepen and broaden it, to main- tain a living relationship with it, it tends to fade into a fond or frustrating memory of what might have been. Here’s where the practice of daily life can be helpful. awak- ening doesn’t happen only like a bolt of lightning; sometimes it’s a dawning awareness that the sky has been gradually getting lighter for some time. In the midst of our daily lives, we become aware of domestic, local moments of seeing the emptiness of things. a man starts to tell a familiar story whose meaning was set sometime in the last century about some relationship, and he finds that he can’t get past the first sentence; suddenly the habitual narrative seems unreal, completely made up, even ri- diculously funny. That’s also seeing emptiness, just a particular emptiness rather than the emptiness of everything all at once. If we let the floor be pulled out from under us and for a mo- ment fall freely, that moment of falling freely is a moment of breakthrough. With practice, we won’t try to catch ourselves too soon, to reconstitute the self that has for a moment vanished. Crucially, if these moments of falling freely are recognized and appreciated, they tend to leak away less readily than the big breakthroughs; they accumulate and cause lasting change, and this can be tremendously encouraging. If the breakthroughs give us the biggest perspective of all, this falling freely shows us what that looks like in any moment of any day. The fundamental promise of Buddhism is that any of us can awaken. as Buddhism has evolved, it has became clear that awakening is not just an individual matter. We are all in this world together, and we are all awakening together. So a matter of great importance is how we encourage practice that compromises on neither the awakening of the individual nor awakening in the field that holds us all—that sees both as es- sential to the uncompartmentalized Way. What an extraordi- nary, what a beautiful, challenge to be given. ♦