Sunday, January 19, 2014

Are These Grapes, And Are They Sour?

There is a Buddhist author whose recent book I enjoyed. I decided to join his mail stream. It never seemed to have any direct information, but notices of lots of courses I could attend, and videos and tapes to buy. 

I received notice of a retreat I could attend; "a rare opportunity." But I had to meet at least one of these qualifications....

1. Have attended Heart of Living Levels 1, 2, and 3 (all three levels) and completed the practice requirements
2. Have attended the Way of Liberation Level I or Mahandramudra Level I with  and completed its practice requirements or will complete them prior to the retreat
3. Have completed the full preliminary practices (the 4 x 100,000 ngondra)
4. Have received pointing out teachings from a qualified Buddhist lineage holder (a tulku or rinpoche)
5. Have had a daily meditation practice for at least five years and attended either group or solitary practice retreats (with 6+ hours of formal meditation practice each day) under the guidance of a Buddhist teacher for a total of at least thirty days

Sid' (aka "the Shyak") taught in open fields to whoever could attend. Ticking off boxes to "get there" is widely taught as not-the-best-way. Realization can come from hearing a stone bounce off a stalk of bamboo. 

This sort of qualified or exclusive monasticism is as deluded as chasing dollars on Wallstreet. 

I am told Buddha is within us all, and that I am exactly who I am supposed to be. 

"Realization" is available to anyone at any time. There is no course that has to be taken. No initiation rites that clear the way. 

Our primate minds dream up all sorts of connections that try to explain the mystery. This has served us well where there actually existed some cause-and-effect relationship for us to map. There actually was a reason for the death rate in the herd to climb when that cat was in the area. That was a very helpful theory. On the other hand the number of virgins in a volcano does not actually affect its likelihood to spew forth. That was a not-so-helpful theory. 

If I meditate for 30min morn and night.... If I have exactly 3/8" between stitches in my rakusu... If my voice trails off just so at the end of Chyodai Kesa no Ge....  *THEN* I will be the stuff that is ready for enlightenment. These are all deluded theories.

When the hand opens
What I am doing is what I am doing
When the hand opens
What I am doing is what is occuring
When the hand opens
What is, is
When the hand opens
..... mu .....

The turning step, the open hand, are not conditions locked up that require a specially shaped key to access.

The practices matter. It is much more difficult to see the gentle bud rising from the mud in the middle of a war, but the practices are not the place, and they are not the only path. 

Adopt the practices that are helpful. Ignore those that are not. Be open to these distinctions changing. 

The practices are not "the grape", and they can indeed be sour if done for the sake of getting grapes. The grape is never out of reach. Just extend your hand and pluck it.  

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