Thursday, March 18, 2010


"All the world's religious traditions have potential to help us become better human beings." -- The 14th Dalai Lama, writing a forward in the book, The Mystic Heart by Wayne Teasdale.

People, notes the 14th Dalai Lama, "eat rice because it grows best where they live, not because it is either better or worse than bread." Likewise he notes, "the world's religions share the same essential purpose. We must maintain respect and harmony among them... Religion, for most of us depends on our family background-- where we were born and grew up. I think it is usually better not to change that." In the book, The Mystic Heart by author Wayne Teasdale, His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama writes an introductory forward to the volume which follows.

Teasdale starts this work with the notion of moral duty. This may be tough one for some to swallow in a world where every man is his own individual, corporate entity. "Consider that domination, cruelty, greed, violence, and all our other ills arise from a sense of insufficient and insecure being. I need more... but it's never enough... All these others threaten us, intimidate us, make us anxious. We can't control them... Our actions [may] turn to openness, trust, inclusion, nurturance and communion... Raising our hidden knowledge of unity, rearranging our dynamism, is something we can practice."

The Mystic Heart takes up the idea of the inter-relatedness of not only religions, but also of persons. Teasdale writes at length, establishing common ground between the world faiths, those of thousand years standing and those emerging. He writes of the commonality of the monastic experience, and he writes about the Buddhist notion of sunyata. Sunyata is often translated from the Sanskrit to mean void or emptiness, but this is the clumsiness of words.
It is also described variously; here a phrase hits home, 'sunyata or how to untie what has never been tied.' This may be closer to its truer meaning and sense of emptying, unloading, freedom. Sunyata is a central tenet of Buddhist thought. Sunyata is a positive thought, to be empty, to be free to receive.

 Emptiness not only empties everything else, but also empties itself. There is the passage  in the Prajnaparamita Sutra, also called The Heart Sutra which states:

   Listen, Shariputra, Form is emptiness, emptiness is form, form does not differ from emptiness, emptiness does not differ from form. The same is true for feelings, mental formations and consciousness.  version from: The Heart of Understanding by Thich Nhat Hanh
Sunyata then, contains characteristics of wisdom and compassion. Wisdom in  recognizing the light of   suchness, everything in its own nature. All things are equally recognized by their suchness. The wisdom  of  sunyata is inseparable from the compassion aspect of sunyata. Sunyata is compassion-- light, realization, an awakening of the creative, essential nature of all -- and then nothing. Sunyata is comprised of all things, all judgments, all moral, and all ill in the ultimate world.

Emptying ourselves of  the false self or the unconscious identity of mere self-interest, is in the way to a larger identity of the divinity. A similar result happens within the process of  Sunyata. Awakening to the Buddha mind universal, develops compassion.  And yet Sunyata calls for a universal mind, free of all constraints so as to heed the great intelligence-mind of the Dharmakaya.

It is rain that falls so totally into the river. What then is the water, what then, the rain?

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