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Lions Roar : July 2015
complacent habitual thoughts and see clearly that everything we encounter, including ourselves, has the same awakened nature. Once this truth has been revealed to us, we can no longer avoid it, although we try. Our thought patterns are so firmly entrenched in the neural connections in our brains that our insight is repeatedly overcome by the filters that hide the truth of reality from us. But then, through practice, we set up the condi- tions for awakening again, and the true world reveals itself. This reality is one of the ways we translate the word “dharma”—the teachings that were realized by the Buddha through his personal discovery of the way things are. The entry points to the Buddha’s dharma—these “dharma gates”—are everywhere. They are revealed to us when we encounter the world through the heart-mind that has been clarified by the practice of sitting still. For the Buddha, the dharma gate was the morning star. For the riverboat travelers, it was the iguana. For other people, it could be a flower, or the sound of a bird, or stubbing a toe. It doesn’t have to be a particularly beautiful thing, because it can be anything. By seeing or hearing or tasting or smelling or feeling something without any filters or disguises, whatever we encounter reveals itself, and we wake up. Because dharma gates are boundless, we don’t have to go somewhere else to find them. They appear everywhere, and our only responsibility is to enter them. Once we begin to recognize this, everything we perceive externally, as well as our own inter- nal experiences of thoughts, emotions, and sensations, become vehicles for awakening to the ultimate truth of reality. What allows us to enter these gates to awakening are the same instructions that the Buddha, and the riverboat guide, gave: Be PHOTOBYJULIEDUBOSE SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2015 59