2nd Real Dharma Meeting: Emptiness, Fullness, Buddha Nature —& questions, questions, questions

Our second meeting of Real Dharma Meditation & Inquiry was full and empty at the same time—filled with sincere and profound inquiry, empty of clinging and false conceptions. What could be better than that?

There were more folks than last time—some new faces and some familiar ones.  The meditation was, again, very deep and still. After meditation, and before I could even begin speaking, there was a question about emptiness versus fullness, as taught in Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta. This sync’ed nicely with the Milarepa quote I recently posted here and that I had been contemplating, and it led to a discussion of the Buddhist teaching of emptiness as not being a mere absence. Emptiness reveals one’s true nature to be Buddha Nature. What are absent are false concepts and elaborations that obscure Buddha Nature. This freedom from false concepts is indicated by the Sanskrit term nisprapanca (free from concept or conceptual elaboration), a term that appears in the Pali canon, as well as in Mahayana teachings. Although free from concepts, one’s true nature can be described in positive terms, as well as in terms of emptiness or non-self. For example, Buddha Nature has been called wisdom (jnana [Skt.]or yeshe [Tib.]) and Clear Light Awareness. And it has the qualities of natural love and compassion. This Buddha Nature is our true nature, already fully present, even if obscured by temporary afflictions.

For most of the evening we discussed Buddha nature and meditation, as well as other topics. The questions continued spontaneously and without ceasing, leading to interesting, challenging and meaningful discussion and inquiry. This was a lot of fun—much more lively and interesting than hearing me give a boring old lecture! Everyone seemed very engaged. And throughout the inquiry, there was a tangible sense of stillness, seriousness, care and even, dare I say, love, coming from all participants. This made the inquiry very real, and not merely intellectual.

One thing that struck me was how our investigation and discovery were not bound by any particular dogma or belief system. Ancient rivalries such as that between Buddhism and Vedanta are not really relevant here in the West, particularly if one’s intention is to find liberation, rather than to cling to or promulgate a belief system. That doesn’t mean one should be haphazard or dilettantish in pursuing one’s path. Lineage still holds an important place. And so does depth and clarity. But in the end, the realization of one’s true nature takes one beyond all words, sects and dogmas.

I am once again struck by our new group’s sincerity and depth and intelligence. And I’m grateful to be part of it. I think these are the blessings of the wisdom and practice lineage in action.

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