The Path Ahead

shandao2As our skin wrinkles and our hair turns white, we see ourselves growing decrepit and senile.

Even if we are rich and blessed with heirs, we cannot escape the ravages of aging.

We may be happy in a thousand ways, but death always comes in the end.

The sole path ahead is to practice, reciting the name of Amideva.

—Shandao

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No Thing & Nothing

Eight_Lineages_-_DolpopaThey’re not the same.

Many people are under the impression that the ultimate truth of Buddha Dharma is a ‘non-affirming negation’, that is, an understanding of reality as void, null, non-existent.

While the Buddha encouraged us not to be fooled by appearances and to stop ascribing independent existence to that which is temporary and dependent, it is a misunderstanding to interpret his teaching as promoting ‘nothing’ as the ultimate truth.

This misunderstanding is often based on the sutras of the Second Turning of the Wheel of Dharma:

Form is empty, emptiness is form. Emptiness is not other than form, form is also not other than emptiness. Likewise, sensation, perception, volition, and consciousness are empty.

In this way, all things are emptiness; they are without defining characteristics; they are not born, they do not cease, they are not defiled, they are not undefiled. They have no increase, they have no decrease. —Heart Sutra

All things are empty. No thing is truly established –no thing exists independently of the consciousness that perceives it. But does this mean that reality is nothing?

Kunchen Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen says, in The Fourth Council:

The meaning of the Second Dharma Wheel is Thusness, with complete infinite qualities. It is not a non-affirming negation; it is not an emptiness of self-nature, an emptiness of nothingness, or a nihilistic emptiness.

When the unreal is set aside, when we no longer place our trust in things, what remains is non-dual pristine awareness.

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Perversions

30708836_1329670870465718_186955725916864512_nTo think of suffering as happiness is perverse; to think of happiness as suffering is perverse.

To think of the impermanent as permanent is perverse; to think of the permanent as impermanent is perverse.

To think of non-being as being is perverse; to think of being as non-being is perverse.

To think of the impure as pure is perverse; to think of the pure as impure is perverse.

—Buddha Shakyamuni, Mahaparinirvana Sutra

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Beyond, Not Between

afe9e2d771e29003bb9d767391738016 (1)Great Middle Way is a translation of Maha Madhyamaka, which is what our Lamas call the Jonang view of the Dharma.

The Great Middle Way is found beyond (not between) all extremes: beyond austerity and hedonism, eternalism and nihilism, sectarianism and eclecticism, dualism and monism.

“It is not this. It is not that. It is not both. It is not neither.” —Nagarjuna

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Leaves & Truths

Related imageOnce the Blessed One was staying at Kosambi in the rosewood forest. Then, picking up a few rosewood leaves with his hand, he asked the monks:

—Which are more numerous, the few leaves in my hand or those overhead in the forest?

—The leaves in the hand of the Blessed One are few in number, Lord. Those overhead in the forest are more numerous.

—In the same way, those things that I have known with direct knowledge but have not taught are far more numerous than what I have taught. And why haven’t I taught them? Because they are not connected with the goal, do not relate to the essentials of the path, and do not lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to tranquility, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, to liberation. That is why I have not taught them.

—Buddha Shakyamuni, Rosewood Sutra

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Balance

Related imageHumility is not thinking less of myself,

but rather thinking of myself less.

I am neither the best nor the worst

—both extremes are manifestations of pride.

Those who stand on tiptoes lose their balance.

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To the Kalamas

15135887_1262871007107107_8379974597916121676_nDon’t go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, ‘This is our teacher.’

When you know for yourselves that, ‘These ideas are unskillful; these ideas are blameworthy; these ideas are censured by the wise; these ideas, when adopted and carried out, lead to harm and to suffering’ — then you should abandon them.

And when you know for yourselves that other ideas are favorable and beneficial, then accept them and practice them.

—Buddha Shakyamuni

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