As our view of the world changes, it becomes possible to love others in a way that we previously reserved for ourselves alone. This genuine love is self-existent, beyond all contrivance and manipulation. It arises spontaneously, simply because the obstacles to its arising have been removed. Consequently, we can’t command this to happen. Trying to do so only results in another experience constructed out of ambition and egocentricity. Furthermore, genuinely compassionate activity goes beyond any sense of limitation. Even thinking that love, compassion, and joy should be restricted to sentient beings can become a form of clinging.
We talked earlier about the sense of well-being that arises through our practice. This grows as we follow the path. Eventually it is revealed as an inherent part of what we are, rather than something “in here” or “out there.” And we can act from that position of natural well-being, benefiting others without fear, because it is so constant. In the beginning, our sense of love, joy, compassion, and well-being is related to specific beings. Eventually, well-being and compassion become part of the way our sense operate, and we experience them in all situations, whether others are present or not.
Ordinarily, our knowledge of other people remains superficial, even when we’re well acquainted. We know their physical appearance and the kinds of things they’re likely to say or do in certain circumstances. If we’re very close, we may have some notion about how they think and the way their emotions operate. But they can always surprise us; indeed, we can always surprise ourselves, because something is always going on below the surface, or beyond the horizon, as it were.
Ordinarily, what we know about another person is analogous to those small, isolated islands in the Pacific. They appear to be tiny rocks, separated by vast oceans, but on further investigation we find they are the tips of great mountains arising from the same underlying bedrock. From the Buddhist point of view, the basic nature of all beings is vast in much the same way. What we see is just the superficial mountaintop.
As our understanding deepens, we get the opportunity to see more of the possibilities that lie hidden in other people, in an almost intuitive way. We can resonate with them, bringing out qualities that seem impossible to imagine now, and the deeper we go into Dharma, the more significant this becomes.
Finally, we go beyond the subtleties of the senses and the objects of awareness to see the nature of awareness itself. There is an intrinsic lucency or clarity in the nature of awareness that lies at the heart of compassion, joy, and the ungraspable spaciousness of non-ego. Now, whenever we look within, we glimpse the ungraspable nature of what we are. Looking without, we see the same ungraspabability in others. A much vaster vision of the nature of sentient beings arises.
This month’s Dharma quotation comes from Rigdzin Shikpo’s book Never Turn Away: The Buddhist Path Beyond Hope and Fear. As always, we at the Longchen Foundation encourage you in your practice, despite the disturbances in the world, to bring benefit to yourself and all beings.
Forthcoming Longchen Events
We continue to meet every Sunday for Longchen Together which involves sitting for 40 minutes at 5:00 pm on Sunday with a reading to inspire us. We then stay and chat until 6:00 pm. This is a great opportunity to practice with the Longchen Mandala and listen to inspiring Dharma.
The Gate 3 Practice Group continues! Every Wednesday at 7:00 pm join us for the opportunity to practice the Gate 3 text as a group as we learn how to meditate beyond ambition together.
We are tentatively planning a Path of Freedom Retreat in August which may be taught by Rigdzin Shikpo. The Path of Freedom curriculum features teachings Rigdzin Shikpo gives directly to new students, covering fundamental aspects of Buddhist thought. The Path of Freedom teachings are also given at weekly local groups, which can be found on our calendar. We will have more details about this retreat soon.