Confusion, Liberation, Emptiness and oN and ON


There’s quite a bit going on these days and I’m taking a writer’s* advice/inspiration when she states, “writing is thinking.”
There is thinking about this processing of searching for a house to buy. There is thinking about the process of changing the shape of what recovery looks like and what recovery means. And there is thinking too about what a spiritual path for Mary looks like on any given day. I received teachings over the weekend on line with one of my favorite spiritual advisors, Elizabeth Mattis-Namgyel. The title of the weekend was the “Middle Way” and focused on the “madyamika” teachings or the teachings on emptiness. The Heart Sutra says it all. It may sound incredibly criptic and difficult to grasp but the secret, for me, is hearing with my heart wide open and not to over intellectualize this life long process of understanding. 

Simple instructions for reflections on whatever might be “coming up” for you; fear, insecurity, desire, craving; taking even small increments of time to look at/investigate/be curious about the feeling/emotion and not naming what arises, but simply observing and then letting it go; liberating what you may have initially experienced as real and perhaps even harming. Somehow, I found myself after the first day feeling quite raw and there was loneliness/isolation. I got a clear view of my strong reactivity to this experience of life/living. Next, came the thought, “who is it that’s feeling?”, and these identification of emotions dissolved. Magic. (Trust me, it doesn’t always happen this way.)
Most important, the direction is not to push the experience away but to simply acknowledge it and see what happens.


The buddhist practices can/are pushing me to feel as if I could be loosing my mind. That the reality of things are coming undone, the edges of life/relationship are dismantling. These experiences used to fill me with fear and now I’m finding qualities of trust and faith in the process of unfolding. This unfolding. My unfolding/dismantling.
Which naturally brings me back to the heart of this post, the heart of the matter, the Heart Sutra. The truth of the matter is,  within emptiness can be found both everything and nothing. All possibility, all fullness, connection with everyone and everything. And so….

Avalokiteshvara, who helps all to awaken,
moves in the deep course of
realizing wisdom beyond wisdom,
sees that all five streams of
body and mind are boundless,
and frees all from anguish.
∅ Oh Shariputra,
form is not separate from boundlessness;
boundlessness is not separate from form.
Form is boundlessness; boundlessness is form.
Feelings, perceptions, mental formations,
and discernment are also like this.
Oh Shariputra,
boundlessness is the nature of all things.
It neither arises nor perishes,
neither stains nor purifies,
neither increases nor decreases.
Boundlessness is not limited by form,
nor by feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and discernment.
It is free of the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind;
free of sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, and any object of mind;
free of sensory realms including mind-consciousness.
It is free of ignorance and the end of ignorance.
Boundlessness is free of old age and death
and free from the end of old age and death.
It is free of suffering, arising, cessation, and path,
and free of wisdom and attainment.
Being free of attainment, those who help all to awaken
abide in the realization of wisdom beyond wisdom
and live with an unhindered mind.
Without hindrance, the mind has no fear.
Free from confusion, those who lead all to emancipation
embody complete serenity.
∅All those, in the past, present, and future,
who realize wisdom beyond wisdom
manifest unsurpassable, authentic and thorough awakening.
Know that realizing wisdom beyond wisdom
is no other than this great mantra,
luminous, incomparable, and supreme.
It relieves all suffering.
It is genuine, not illusory. ∅
So set forth this mantra of realizing wisdom beyond wisdom.
Set forth this mantra that says:
Gate, gate, ° paragate, parasamgate, ° bodhi! svaha! Δ
[©2003 Kazuaki Tanahashi and Joan Halifax]


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