Friday, October 26, 2007

Self Liberate Even the Antidote

(The third slogan of the Seven Points of Mind Training).

This slogan is the third of the points on the actual practice - the cultivation of Bodhicitta.

Let even the remedy subside .... The antidote will vanish of itself .... Even the Antidote Itself is Liberated in its own Place ....

These Blue/Yellow skies have been symbolic significance for me ... Mahamudra
I guess for me this slogan has several aspects, or levels. What is the remedy or antidote?

Well, clearly it's Emptiness, that which frees us from clinging to a mistakenly solid sense of the world we inhabit, and a mistakenly solid sense of ourselves. Looking deeply at both, we see that our experience is dream-like, ungraspable and illusory. We see that the 'I' that looks is the same, the dream-like gossamer of mere appearance.

What is the nature of that recognition?

It's the emptiness, the ungraspable, mysterious and diaphanous nature of what is. As we look and let go of ignorant projection, the veils of solidity drop away, as does the polarised sense of self and other.

All that is is dream-like appearance, never resting, never staying, never able to be grasped. As we rest in that awareness of how things are, a sense of Emptiness comes into view.

Whether we can rest in that sense of Emptiness is the question. Usually, we either slide into thoughts, or we slip back into dualistic projection of solidity.

But when we do rest in the nature of mind/things, we experience a profound shift. Without forcing it, or grasping after it, this view may visit us awhile.

So what of this third slogan?

There are ways that we can slip off the path, so to speak, at this point.

Grasping after this experience of Emptiness, we can seek to find Emptiness everywhere, not allowing it to open, but grasping and hunting for it. This isn't the correct antidote, and can be let go of.

Similarly, we can lose the experience of Emptiness, and in it's place give rise to the idea or concept of Emptiness. Worlds apart, but easily done, this conceptual idea of Emptiness is not the antidote either, and can be let go of. We can look into those thoughts of Emptiness, and see that they are themselves empty in nature, Shunya.

With our taste of Emptiness, we can mistake it's nature, and arrive at the viewpoint that as all things (including our own self) are Empty, then nothing matters, it's all the same, morality doesn't exist, karma doesn't exist, etc, etc. Mistaking Emptiness for this nihilistic viewpoint, we slip into 'the poison of Emptiness'. It is said that this is even worse than the original ignorant grasping at appearances as being solid and real.

We can take our glimpse of Emptiness, of Shunyata, and grasp after it such that we seek a refuge in it through reification. The first slogan encouraged us to look at our experience of life, of the world. We found it to not only be as solid as we thought, but utterly dreamlike and illusory. That cuts through our foundations, our sense of placement in the world, and undercuts us greatly. It takes the ground out from under our feet.

The second slogan turned our attention onto us, our self, and again, cut the rug out from under our feet. Ourselves too, are dreamlike and illusory.

So there's nothing to cling to there, either 'outside' or 'inside'. That's a big shock to the system, when that's experienced (rather than thoughts).

So what do we tend to do next? We find something to grasp after, some ground to put back beneath our feet ... and that attempted ground is emptiness itself.

We can take our glimpse of emptiness, and imagine that *this is it* ... this is how things are, and this is the ground that therefore I can rely on. Once again, a ground to our being. But is shunyata like this?

Emptiness itself is empty, it's without characteristics. There's nothing there for you to grasp onto, or to give any ground beneath your feet, as it were. Rug pulling number three! Whatever 'answer' we've come up with to the riddle of life, to the nature of mind, ourselves, reality, whatever you wish to call it ... the answer itself is also empty, and without anything to give us security.

Hmm .....

Let go.

Just let go.


Nicola-Frank said...

thanks for your helpful post. In my study of the slogans, I always felt that this one (like many others) has so many meanings. I guess that in a way it's the beauty of the Seven Points in Mind Training, each slogan is saying just enough so we can make the path ourselves.

Anyway, I always thought that the third slogan had many meanings. Thanks for your view on that. Do you think it's also pointing at the whole teachings, that if you take the teachings as a new ground, you got to let go even of that?rettr

Dharma Surfer said...

great insight, many thanks for sharing.