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Imagine You're Enlightened

With the arising of the awareness being, we are freed from the polarity of subject-object fixation. Everything that arises as sight or sound is now experienced differently, not as something “out there.” In the simple experience of “I see a red car,” we know that every element in the formulation is a construction. What does “I” actually refer to? What is “seeing”? And “red car” is only a phrase used to convey a whole set of associations. Experiences arise like the appearances in a dream. The energy of our commitment and the presence of awareness enable us to experience this dream with extraordinary clarity, knowing it and everything in it to be empty of independent existence.

The awareness being and the commitment being have come together, just as the commitment to being a teacher and the understanding of the profession come together. We continue to approach the world as the embodiment of awake compassion, or pride, or whatever we are using, but now it comes naturally. In both formal practice and our daily life, we maintain a sense of being the union of the commitment and awareness beings and meet everything that arises accordingly.

This approach is not without its dangers. If, when resistance arises, we don’t know how to stay present in the awake expression, we run the risk of becoming a cosmic gorilla, tearing up or consuming the universe because our reactive patterns are running amok.If we are unwilling to stay present in the emotional turmoil, this practice will, at best, do nothing. At worst, the energy generated and released through our efforts will feed and power habituated emotional reactions. We will end up worse off than we were before. Traditionally, Vajrayana practice is likened to a snake entering a bamboo pipe. The snake either goes up or it goes down. We, too, have only two ways to go: up, opening into progressively higher degrees of awake presence as the energy generated in practice is transformed into attention; or down, falling into progressively stronger reactive patterns as energy decays into emotional reactions.

To guard against these possibilities, we need to receive instruction and guidance on how to meet resistance, decide with an appropriately trained teacher what deity (or “personality”) to use, and make sure we have had a direct experience of its awake expression.

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