29 Aug 2015

Alan starts by commenting that wherever the Buddhadharma has flourished (e.g. China, Japan, South-Est Asia, etc.), it has always been contemporary, in dialogue with what people believe to be true. Now we go back to the fundamental teachings. We all care about suffering. Anything out there can trigger suffering. Why do we suffer? These skandhas influenced by karmic kleshas are closely held. We identify with the body and mind as being either I or mine. So we have two strategies here: (1) we retreat from them, but karmic kleshas will bring us back; (2) we make an expedition into them: are you really I or mine, or not? If you discover there’s nothing there that it’s you or yours, then if you have that insight, you can stay with your body & mind but with no suffering. So withdraw for a while with shamatha and then start the expedition with vipashyana. Alan paraphrases the Heart Sutra: not only the five skandhas are empty of you, they too are empty of inherent existence. They are a conceptual designation. There is no physical universe out there. If you are fundamentally deluded about the nature of samsara, how can you be free? You must know the nature of existence. Why do we suffer from the madhyamaka viewpoint? If you grasp at the true existence of your body and mind, then grasping at I is bound to come up. Alan then brings in Dharmakirti, explaining causal inference: if you are to be able to infer fire from smoke, you must have seen fire making smoke. If you never ever see fire, you cannot make that inference. Based on that logic, have you ever seen your real body that is not an appearance to your mind? And finally we come to Dzogchen. Why do we suffer according to Dzogchen? It’s because we identify with that which is not I or mine as being I or mine, and because we fail to recognise who we are. Buddhas know who they are, sentient beings don’t.

Meditation is on vipashyana on the body

After meditation, Alan resumes his commentary on “A Spacious Path to Freedom” from page 87. He concludes the session by quoting the aphorism from Atisha’s 7-point mind training, which invites us to “act as an illusory being” when we’re off the cushion.

The meditation starts at 35:18.


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