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Lions Roar : July 2015
Practice: Dropping into Your Body & Feelings RELAX DEEPLY. D on’t hold onto anything. Com- pletely let go of thinking and judging mind while gently maintaining the clarity and knowing aspects of mind. Now raise your arms to shoulder height, pause, and let them drop suddenly to your knees. As you drop your arms, breathe out forcefully. Then say, “Who cares? So what? Svaha!” (Svaha is a Sanskrit word used frequently in mantras that means “So be it.”) Whatever happens, wherever you land after dropping your arms, just let it be. Don’t do or try to block any- thing. Just rest. There is no need to search for something new or try to achieve some special insight or state. Feel whatever feelings and sensations arise and be lightly aware of them. Feel them naturally and softly, and don’t try to change anything. When uncomfortable feelings come up, you can relax and trust them, with- out analyzing or somehow figuring them out. Let them be as they are through feeling awareness while resting naturally in the body. This practice can be repeated until you can more fully drop into your body and feelings. ♦ — T SOKNYI RINPOCHE and compulsion to chase after things. One is much more con- tent and at ease, and possesses much more devotion, apprecia- tion, and compassion. That is how it shows itself outwardly. This is actually a good question, because we need to take care that there is real progress in our practice. Every so often, we may have to look back and assess: “What has happened with me? Is there any improvement in my personality, in my character? Am I more or less attached to things? Do I have more or less craving, more or less aggression? Am I more or less dull than before? In which direc- tion am I really going? Am I improving or not improving?” We may think, “Now I have been meditating for five years... ten years...fifteen years. But what has really happened? Can I discern any real improvement when I compare how I used to be with how I am now?” It’s very good to scrutinize yourself that way, to check and see if there is any progress. It may sound a little strange to say this, but when one prac- tices in a place where there is no external support for dharma practice—a place where people don’t necessarily respect and praise the fact that you are a spiritual practitioner—maybe it is more possible to be a really genuine practitioner. In fact, maybe it is much easier. Who knows? Conversely, in a place where there is a lot of support for practice, there may be plenty of people who are not really practicing genuinely. We should be concerned with these questions: Am I really practicing in a genuine way? Am I really progressing? We need to check ourselves, again and again. As we practice more and more, the basic guideline is: Are our disturbing emotions diminishing? Is wisdom developing and increasing? Yes or no? We should examine ourselves honestly in this way. Could you say something about understanding compassion without emptiness? Without understanding emptiness, compassion can never be authentic. There’s a very high chance we will confuse compas- sion with attachment and desire. One thinks that one’s passion is compassion, that one’s attachment to others and caring for others is true compassion. Our ordinary version of compassion and affection is selfish in a way, because it’s my family, my children. I care for them, we should enjoy ourselves together, because I love them. It is com- passion in a sense, but without the understanding of emptiness it becomes very narrow, very limited. Compassion is not that kind of attachment. It is not pas- sion for or attraction toward something that one loves or likes. Compassion is called the “great passion,” but it is not the pas- sion of latching onto something and not wanting to let go. True compassion is a very open and free atmosphere. Compassion without the understanding of emptiness easily becomes selfish attachment, while understanding emptiness without compassion can also become selfish, one-sided, and limited. In order to avoid these dangers, it’s very important to understand the unity of emptiness and compassion. Your naked, present ordinary mind is the door to this unity of com- passionate emptiness. Recognize that, and you’ve opened the door. The more we grow used to this, the easier it becomes. Right now this door is closed by our preoccupation with an almost uninterrupted string of thoughts. But if we allow just one gap between one thought and the next, we may glimpse the naked ordinary mind, self-existing awareness. Then the door is opened right there to reveal compassion and emptiness united. It is a timeless moment. The great wisdom qualities of the buddha mind—the wis- dom that sees the innate nature as it is and the wisdom that perceives all possible things—are blocked again and again, almost continuously, by the concepts that we form. These con- cepts are actually temporally based; they are, in essence, time. The moment we start to allow gaps in this flow of concepts, the innate qualities of the awakened state begin to shine through. ♦ Adapted from Carefree Dignity by Tsoknyi Rinpoche. Published by Rangjung Yeshe Publications. SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2015 65