Monday, October 28, 2013

Giving up attachment to this life.. and other volitional impossibilities.

From an article in Tricyle:

"Again, an elder was once circumambulating the outer perimeter at Radreng Monastery. Dromtönpa asked him, “O elder, performing circumambulation may be satisfying, but wouldn’t it be better if you practiced the Dharma?”
The elder felt that, instead of performing circumambulations, perhaps it would be more effective if he were to read Mahayana sutras, so he began to read sutras on the temple veranda. Dromtönpa then asked him, “Reading sutras might also be satisfying, but wouldn’t it be better if you practiced the Dharma?”
The elder took this as a sign that, when contrasted with reading sutras, engaging in meditative absorption is more profitable, so he abandoned reading sutras and sat down with his eyes closed. Again, Dromtönpa asked, “Meditating might also be satisfying, but wouldn’t it be better to practice the Dharma instead?”
Failing to think of any other method, the elder asked, “O spiritual mentor, then what kind of Dharma practice would you have me undertake?”
It is said that Drom replied, “O elder, give up this life; give up this life.”
In this way Dromtönpa stated that so long as we fail to forsake attachment to this life, whatever we undertake does not become Dharma practice, for such an act remains within the bounds of the eight mundane concerns. By contrast, if we let go of attachment to this life, we will remain untainted by the eight mundane concerns. Only then will whatever we do become a path to liberation.
Once Potowa asked the spiritual mentor Dromtönpa, “What is the demarcation between Dharma and non-Dharma?”
Dromtönpa replied, “If it is a remedy against affliction, it is Dharma; if not, it is not Dharma. If it is at variance with all worldly people, it is Dharma; if it is in accord with the worldly, it is not Dharma. If its trace is positive, it is Dharma; if not, it is not Dharma.”"

From Wisdom of the Kadam Masters, edited by Thupten Jinpa, © 2013. Reprinted by arrangement with Wisdom Publications, Inc., Somerville, MA.

'Giving up this life'.. 'letting go of attachment to this life'.. sounds great, except it will necessarily be done by an individual personality, walking around believing that they have given up attachment to life. A new belief is taken on board. A new identity is born.

On the other hand, it may be that this ideal comes about naturally as a by-product of an authentic practice or realization, rather than yet another task for someone to strive at and perform. Relinquishment of sense/thought objects one by one, which constitute "life" as a composite whole, is certainly possible. It can only be done on a moment by moment basis. Effortlessly.


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