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Lions Roar : July 2019
The second approach is called “meditating based on direct instruction.” This becomes an option when the student has trust in the dharma and devotion to the teacher, and the teacher has genuine experience and realization to impart. In that case, there is no need for elaborate studies based on scripture and reasoning. Rather, one focuses on the common preliminaries (four contemplations that shift the mind’s perspective) and the uncommon preliminaries (four spiritual exercises that are prac- ticed one hundred thousand times each). Having completed this training, one takes up the practice of deity yoga, which leads to realization of the natural state of Mahamudra (The Great Seal) and Dzogchen (The Great Perfection). In order to make this happen, a ready and receptive student will request empowerment, teaching on the tantras, and oral instruction from a master who possesses genuine realization. During this process of trans- mission, it becomes possible for the student to recognize the true nature of the mind, which is the crucial experience that leads to accomplishment. Finally, the third approach in Vajrayana Bud- dhism is referred to as “the transfer of bless- ings.” When a master with supreme realization is approached by an extremely gifted disciple, sometimes no words are necessary. A mere sign is enough to convey the nature of realization. Sometimes there is no need for any indication at all. Simply the fact that the master’s wisdom mind turns toward the disciple is sufficient. The stu- dent recognizes the nature of mind, perfects the strength of that recognition, and gains full stabil- ity in it—all at the same time. That is possible, and it has happened to some, but it’s very rare. These days, the effects of science and scientific thinking are in evidence everywhere, and for many people, science is more trustworthy than religion when it comes to issues such as the nature of mat- ter, time, and space. No matter what our belief system or religious orientation may be, this is a time for analysis and investigation, and the Bud- dhist tradition has rich resources in that regard. For example, the treatises on Madhyamaka and Buddhist logic teach the analytic method in tre- mendous detail. But if our aim is to become free of doubt with respect to the profound truths of samsara, nirvana, and the path, just studying for a short time is not going to be enough. Month after month, year after year, we should embrace the life of a scholar. From early morning till late evening, we should read and analyze the teach- ings of the Buddha, combined with the com- mentaries and treatises of the great masters. We should compare the texts we study against each other, and discuss and debate them with our fellow students and scholars. People appreciate critical analysis these days, and when such analysis leads to freedom from doubt, the result is genuine trust. Then our trust in the teachings and our appreciation for the wisdom they convey becomes very natural and joyful. We become perfectly equipped to put the teachings into practice and gain experience, and as experience unfolds in our minds, the possibility of true realization dawns. That is why it is so impor- tant to study and reflect on the view. NISHA R. SHAH of Spirit Rock Meditation Center looks at how to support the devel- opment of the seasoned, knowledgeable practitioners that Buddhism needs. Our best guide is the three jewels. MODERN BUDDHISM is having a moment. These are times of both opportunity and opportunism as meditation and mindfulness have not only become Deep Dharma for a Complex Time household words, but seem to be trending as the lat- est cool “lifestyle” with which to experiment.. A mil- lennial friend shared that wearing mala beads, saying that you have a meditation practice, and posting on social media that you’re just back from a retreat are all commonplace occurrences that apparently convey both a meaningful and hip life. Complexity is part of the zeitgeist of Buddhism today. I hold these complexities both personally and professionally. I’m a woman of South East Asian LION’S ROAR | JULY 2019 70