Wisdom and Compassion
The Mahayana is concerned with prajna (wisdom) and upaya (skillful means). The former is the insight into the empty, vast, interrelated nature of appearance and awareness. Upaya refers to the practices and teachings that open that vision up for persons on the path. At the heart of it all is compassion. Dedicating oneself to awakening, one treads a path for others. Impossible circumstances become workable. Easing one's own suffering, there is less suffering in the world. Feeling with others, the rift of isolation bridged: this is the work of great awakening.
The founders of the "Yoga Practice" school of Indian Buddhism are the brothers Asanga and Vasubandu. One of the central contributions of Yogacara is the introduction of the alaya-vijnana, or store-house consciousness, a substratum of subliminal intelligence that remembers all of one's experiences. This, the innovative core of a layered theory of mind, has profound explanatory power and offers insights into the practice of meditation. Yogacara psychology directs one's attention to the full scope of experience with the insight that all experience is mind, while mind itself is intangible. One can never step out of consciousness in order to directly apprehend a reality that has not been cognized.
The essence of the dharma lives in the words and syllables of the sadhanas we recite. Each time we recite a sadhana we bring the dharma to life. The distilled wisdom of ancient tradition is alive in the present.
Sadhana practice energizes us through feeling, image and sound integrating the disparate aspects of our psyche into a coherent whole. At the same time, we are also engaging the archetypal inner patterns that create our outer world. The recitation of text and mantra awakens the deep energies of grace, compassion, inner power, and wellbeing within us.
Sadhanas are symbolic gateways to another world – the sacred world of Buddha's body, speech and mind. The Buddha’s body is the upright, still, calm and relaxed body of meditative awareness. The Buddha’s speech is full of the words and syllables of sadhana. And the Buddha’s mind is illuminated awareness.
Reciting sadhana purifies both our minds and the world around us. Taking our seat as a Buddha in the practice of sadhana, the world around us is realized as perfectly itself.
Both Dzogchen and Mahamudra teachings point to the ineffable completeness of each moment of experience. The teacher points this out directly, then practitioners repeatedly familiarize themselves with that natural state, cutting through ordinary conceptions and reductions that veil.
Mind is phenomenal experience. Phenomena arising in experience are not other than mind. The totality of this is an openness transcending language. It is our most precious and secret human heritage.
Naturally serene, seamless like space,
Embodying wholeness, the unity of ever-fresh awareness and its field,
Unchanging, impartial, not biased toward being or nonbeing,
I salute the supreme universal creativity.
"This is not to be protected,
It is unspeakable.
It is not a self.
It is not an other.
It does not die or pass on.
It is not non-existent.
It is the source of everything.
It is not a source.
It is what it is."
- From Secret Sky (translated by Christopher Wilkinson)