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    Modern version of the Eternal Knot by Charles Huttner
A View on Buddhism
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His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Concern for others to be happy and compassion wishing them to be free from suffering are needed not only as the basis for a bodhichitta motivation for mahamudra* practice, but also for keeping that practice on course to its intended goal. When we have changed our focus in life from the contents of our experience to the process of experience, there is great danger of becoming fixated on mind itself. This is because the direct experience of mind itself is totally blissful - in a calm and serene sense - and entails extraordinary clarity and starkness. Concern for others is one of the strongest forces that brings us back down to earth after having been up in the clouds. Although all appearances exist as a function of mind, other beings do not exist merely in our head. Their suffering is real and it hurts them just as much as ours hurts us.

Furthermore, to be concerned about someone does not mean to be frantically worried about this person. If we are fixated on our child's problems at school, for example, we lose sight that whatever appearance of the problems our mind gives rise to is a function of mind. Believing the appearance to be the solid reality "out there," we again feel hopeless to do anything and thus become extremely anxious and tense. We worry to the point of becoming sick and we over-react toward our child, which does not help. If we focus instead on the process of mind that gives rise to our perception of the problem as if it existed as some horrible monster "out there," we do not eliminate our concern for our child, only our worry. This allows us to take whatever clear and calm action is necessary to alleviate the problem, Thus not only is compassion necessary for successful practice of mahamudra, but mahamudra realization is necessary for successful practice of compassion.
The Gelug/Kagyu Tradition of Mahamudra

Like the illusory face of this appearing world,
The movement of mind is not touched by artifice;
It is not altered by action, freedom, or realization.
To remain in the depths of mind free of reference
Is known as mahamudra.
The Karmapa gave this verse to Lama Tenam to use in his meditation practice. Within the Kagyu lineage, the practice of mahamudra is the deepest form of meditation. It is deceptively simple to describe and quite difficult to practice. Mahamudra practice could be described as remaining settled into the nature of mind, immersed in its nature that is awareness and emptiness inseparable, not touched by artifice, which means that there is no effort to do anything, and free of reference, which means that the mind is not grasping at anything at all. If you were working with this verse, you would first memorize it and reflect on its meaning until it became very clear. Then resting in meditation, you would float the verse in your mindstream, keeping a gentle focus, much as a koan is held. Then, after a while, you would let it go and rest in the space it has opened out, free of referent or mental activity. When thoughts arose again, you would fold them into the verse, which would become your referent again, and so you would continue, naturally shifting between resting in meditation and reflecting on the verse.
Michele Martin, from Music in the Sky: The Life, Art and Teachings of the Seventeenth Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje

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Last updated: July 13, 2009