Circus of the Spectrum: Diving Right into the Terrible Beauty of Life

Circus of the Spectrum

“Ultimately one must abandon the path to enlightenment. If you still define yourself as a Buddhist, you are not a buddha yet.”

Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse

Spirituality is not something you do alone. . .  it is fundamentally something you do with people. Spirituality is all about relating to other people, creating trust, friendship, community. If you are only practicing spirituality by yourself, my feeling is that you haven’t learned much.

Wisdom is not about repeating the same spiritual words, slogans, tropes over and over again, in every situation. .  .  .  it’s about encountering fresh experiences and ideas in every situation, creating new concepts, thoughts and words to express them.

I went to Circus of the Spectrum last night at the Bus Stop Theatre in Halifax. It was a totally liberating experience. It was great to see that my life is not the black and white of “dharma/ not dharma” or the miserable grey of “practice”, but that life is a spectrum of terrible beauty, and I am open to all of it.

Impermanence, non-self, karma, emptiness and other dharma—can become hardened, crusted over habits of thought and limiting, habitual responses to the world, just like all our other habitual thoughts and responses. So just let dharma go and go deeply into the experience of your life right now.

Do your life, because your life is the path.

“Introduction to the Minisiddah Path”: Insight and Willingness to work with whatever is happening right now.

Blazing Wisdom Institute; Nov. 24, 2010 San Jose Cal.

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Recognizing first, that the very nature of our mind it to know what we are experiencing when we are experiencing it. To know is to know that you know.

Self-knowing mind. or awareness by definition, is awareness of itself.

That’s just the nature of our own mind; it’s not something we have to create or fabricate. 

And because in every moment of experience we can also know that it is our own mind that is experiencing it, then the opportunity exists to work with our mind in that situation.

So the mind is not something that just blindly reacts to whatever stimulus comes to it, like a snowflake melts on a hot rock or a leaf blows in the wind. That’s not the way our mind operates.

Our mind operates, not just by experiencing through the senses and experiencing thoughts and emotions, but by knowing that it is doing so as it is doing so.

That is where spiritual practice becomes possible.

It’s possible because the mind has that basic nature.

Awareness, the basic nature of mind can never be blocked or removed. 

We can only forget. Awareness can only forget itself.

It can’t be destroyed, it can’t be changed, it’s the nature of our mind, but it can forget.

So the fist job in order to practice right now with whatever is happening is to remember that it is our own mind experiencing what is happening.

When we remember that it’s our own mind having an experience and not just the world coming to us, then there’s endless possibility for improvement, for change for spiritual practice.

When we think the world and the people in it make us feel a certain way, then we are not engaged in spiritual practice.

When we recognize that we are having an experience of being angry or frustrated or perceiving someone as being a certain way, and that is our own mind doing that,

then in that moment of recognizing that, we can choose a different way.

We can choose to perceive differently

we can train ourselves to perceive differently to respond differently

we can have what is called an awareness intervention, instead of just blindly responding

Of course we can sleep-walk through our whole lives by just responding in a habitual way to everything that happens.

Spiritual life is the opposite of that.

It is remembering the very critical role that our own mind plays in our experience and in the quality of our experience and choosing to work directly with that in that moment.

Buddhism and modern brain science and philosophy can all tell you that our waking experience is fundamentally the same—

that what we experience is by and large a projection, a construct of our own minds.

But because its not purely [entirely] conditioned, because our awareness is always there in experience, then we don’t have to go on experiencing things exactly the same way.

We can train ourselves to be fully awake rather than asleep in our own lives.

When we start to see that no one can make us train our own minds, but also no one can prevent us from training our own minds;

no one can make us feel something and no one can stop us from feeling something;

when we start to reorient ourselves that way,

then we are really starting to go deep into what we can call spiritual practice.

So spiritual practice is made possible by what we call Buddhanature, by the nature of our own mind.

If it were not so, we couldn’t make it be so, we couldn’t make it happen.

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