Regard all dharmas as Dreams. Everyday Buddhadharma: Working with Atisha Mind Training Slogans. ~ via Linda Lewis

Via on Feb 16, 2009

Atisha lojong slogans

Everyday Buddhadharma
Working with Slogans

By Linda V. Lewis

Basically there is no mind training in the Buddhadharma without both meditation and the haunting hangover that follows—the mindfulness-awareness experience of post-meditation. So meditation in this tradition is not just about pacification of a confused mind, although this is a valid and valuable start. But here meditation is about actually about waking up.

As we practice meditation (with our eyes open), we begin to see how much our various mental attitudes create our world. Things appear in a moment to be solid and “real”, but when looked at again, may seem more fluid or even dreamlike.

This morning I was writing at my table cluttered with books and papers, the snow falling slowly, relentlessly outside. Now I am at the computer and that moment of being at the table writing is a mere memory. Neither time nor appearances are frozen—even in this endless winter.

Everything changes, including what we think of as “me”. When I was a child, I hated avocados. Now I love them. Scientists say that the molecules that comprise a human body are continually forming and dissolving so that we are entirely different every seven years. None of the molecules of seven years ago are still “me”.

Even now, which is not the same now as a moment ago, I pause to look again beneath the conceptual overlay of language, and see that this being “at the computer” is no more solidly real than anything else. When we turn this contemplative process of insight onto ourselves for even just a moment and look, free from external reference points, we get a glimpse of the lack of any solid “self” to be found. We are blinking at egolessness.

This is the great discovery the Buddhadharma has to offer. It is great both because it is a discovery of spaciousness and because it has the ability to liberate us from unnecessary suffering. Apparent reality is mind-made, but mind is not just empty. Although neither a self nor a mind can be found, the experience of looking and seeing that which cannot be found is so bright and clear.

But this experience of openness is difficult to maintain. Thus what are called “slogans” are a huge help in continuing this insight both on and off the meditation cushion. Otherwise we tend to fall back into habitual patterns of “me and mine” or even “me first” as if there were a solid, singular, unchanging “real me”. Slogan practice, which was first developed in India by Atisha in the 10th century, cuts through that habit of self-centeredness and perhaps is even more relevant in this self-cherishing culture of today.

Atisha’s first slogans or reminders have to do with meditative awakened-heart, awakened-mind. For example,

“Regard all dharmas as dreams”

reminds us of this fundamental and profound inspiration of meditation that can lead us to see things in a fresh way, post-meditation. Here, lowercase-D “dharmas” refer to phenomena. Our daily experience of life, like dreams, may be vivid—but there is no substantial essence. In meditation we glimpse the dreamlike quality of both (external) phenomena and (internal) mind. This gives us a spacious feeling. There are no boundaries, no territory. There is nothing to cling to and nothing to lose in this open field. This insight is what prompts us to be generous and resourceful post-meditation. As Nagarjuna said, “Because of emptiness, everything is possible.”

In subsequent articles I shall write about the slogans that are reminders of this view in the midst of our post-meditation experience. ~L.V.L.

linda lewis waylon

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9 Responses to “Regard all dharmas as Dreams. Everyday Buddhadharma: Working with Atisha Mind Training Slogans. ~ via Linda Lewis”

  1. Shawn Collins at 10:34am February 16
    Hey the gift of putting concepts and meaning into words…seems to run strongly in the Lewis family, Waylon. Loved the way your mom worded and explained it all!

    Waylon Hart Lewis at 10:40am February 16
    She’s a well-loved, senior Buddhist teacher! I just hadn’t thought for whatever reason to supplicate her to write for us (except for a few years back, in the magazine, she wrote about Ashoka) until a friend suggested it.

  2. Hey Linda and Waylon,

    Love this whole article so much…spoken with a few short well written paragraphs, but radiating such, simple, yet profound wisdom and realization! Thanks so much…is an inspiration in my day today!

    Especially love this: This is the great discovery the Buddhadharma has to offer. It is great both because it is a discovery of spaciousness and because it has the ability to liberate us from unnecessary suffering. Apparent reality is mind-made, but mind is not just empty. Although neither a self nor a mind can be found, the experience of looking and seeing that which cannot be found is so bright and clear.

    This reminds me so much of the reality/realization state of beingness/nonbeingness the Dzogchen folks term Rigpa! The natural self illuminating, self liberating clarity awareness of being/nonbeing.

    Getting a bit abstruse here perhaps! :-)

    Thanks again for your comments!

  3. Zoe Montalbano at 11:51am February 16
    Thanks for sharing your mom, Waylon! Awesome reminders and some great new insight. Sweet.

  4. Molly says:

    Great to have writing from Linda, the seed of Way.
    Love you both.
    Molly

  5. [...] In the previous article we discussed the slogan, “Regard all dharmas as dreams” and focused on how [...]

  6. [...] Linda, on perhaps my favorite of the slogans: “In post-meditation, be a child of illusion.” In the previous article we discussed the slogan, “Regard all dharmas as dreams” and focused on how [...]

  7. [...] first two slogans previously discussed, “Regard all dharmas as dreams” and “In the post-meditation experience be a child of illusion”, are called absolute [...]

  8. Beth Williamson says:

    In reading this article, I just got that the "me" of "me first" is false. This is great news. "Put others first" is really an encouragement to put reality first, to put spaciousness and non-territory first.

  9. [...] According to Atisha and the Kagyu masters, absolute bodhicitta, enlightened heart and mind, is the realization of emptiness indivisible from compassion, an experience of which is possible to be at least glimpsed during meditation. For more on absolute bodhicitta see the Buddhadharma in Everyday Life article entitled  Regard all Dharmas As  Dream.  [...]

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