I’ve studied through the slogans a dozen times in my life;
these are my musings on the slogan currently, what comes up on the day that
I am posting the slogan, not a formal interpretation.
For that reason they are less about straight Buddhist teachings,
and I think able to be shared with most practitioners of other faiths or no faith
(unless yours doesn’t allow you to read any other tradition.)
If you have time and the inclination, I published the WHOLE thang here!
Continued from last week: Lojong 43 part 1.
“#43: Observe these even at the risk of your life.”
Because of my lack of physical teachers or community early on (I was book learned for years before finding a teacher), I don’t resonate completely with the Refuge Vow:
“I take refuge in the three jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.”
Especially as most apply it to taking refuge in a given teachers, and don’t think of him or her as being symbolic of the Buddha. I am still a recovering Catholic in some ways,
and one is that I will “put no mind before your own” (Maezumi Roshi).
I don’t see teachers as inherently enlightened, and certainly the many transgressions of many many types of spiritual leaders (including Buddhist) are proof of that.
“In the Buddhist tradition, the purpose of taking refuge is to awaken from confusion
and associate oneself with wakefulness… When we take refuge,
we commit ourselves to the Buddhist path.” – Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche.
In the end I resonate with this…
I take refuge in the dharma, the truth, wherever I find it.
Sometimes it is in Buddhist teachings, sometimes in a wise writer of fiction.
Truth is truth.
I do, however, find comfort in reading a couple of Buddhist books again and again, and so I know I take refuge in those teachings, and one of them is the lojong.
I’ve had to find ways to interpret “sangha” which most consider their spiritual community.
I don’t really have one, and the communities I’ve encountered have been fraught with more problems than opportunities. Perhaps it is because I joined later, after 15 years of sitting zazen alone, working through teachings by myself, that I came in with open eyes
and saw the longing and chaos and confusion and anger and jealously and upset.
Hard to imagine taking refuge in a “spiritual” community.
Fifteen years later I now interpret my sangha as all my many teachers on this planet,
the ones who think they are teaching me, the ones that wounded me,
the ones that loved me, the ones that didn’t love me, the ones that broke my heart,
the homeless where our eyes locked and they stayed with me days later.
And my enemies. and Chogyam Rinpoche both talk about
not being able to even see “the other” unless the other is in yourself.
So enemies and friends and spiritual teachers and everyone that touches me
are all there for an experience that plays out in my consciousness.
Certainly Mitchell and my marriage is my sangha.
Our cats and the sweetness they bestow on each other, or the clear cut ways they draw boundaries and play and their hierarchical sleeping arrangements.
With my “enemies”, I pay attention to how I handle encounters.
Pure evil is difficult to work with. I am not there yet, and it is
becoming evident that we live in the midst of pure evil.
I leave you with inspiration, Avalokiteśvara’s mantra, an interpretation from
A New Translation of the Heart Sutra with Commentaries:
“Gate, gate, pāragate, pārasaṃgate, bodhi svāhā.
Gate means gone: gone from suffering to the liberation from suffering.
Gone from forgetfulness to mindfulness. Gone from duality to nonduality.
Gate, gate means gone, gone. Pāragate means gone all the way to the other shore.
So this mantra is said in a very strong way. Gone, gone, gone all the way over.
In Pārasaṃgate, saṃ means everyone, the sangha, the entire community of beings. Everyone gone over to the other shore. Bodhi is the light inside, enlightenment, or awakening. You see, and the vision of reality liberates you. Svāhā is a cry of joy and triumph, like “Eureka!” or “Hallelujah!” “Gone, gone, gone all the way over,
everyone gone to the other shore, enlightenment, svāhā!”
In this weekly commentary on the lojong, I am not open comments becoming
a debate for people to nitpick Buddhism or my interpretations of Buddhist concepts.
(There are lots of places for debates.) I am more interested in hearing about
YOUR life or how the lojong affected you or your practice awakening in some manner.
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