My teacher describes the process of coming to a deeper understanding of the teachings in terms of “the three wisdom tools.” They are: the wisdom of listening and hearing, the wisdom of reflection and contemplation and the wisdom of application and meditation. This means that first we need to study and understand what the teachings are saying. Then, through reflection, we need to come to a personal understanding of what we heard. Finally we need to learn how to apply the insights to how we see and relate to the world.
To reflect on the true nature of existence is not easy. The view of shunyata, which I wrote about yesterday, is very profound. It provides the basis of the Mahayana school of Buddhism. The highest philosophical view in this school is known as Madhyamika and propounds the ‘Middle Way’ philosophy. One of the great masters of this view is Nagarjuna. He lived in the second and third century A.D. This is one of the many famous quotes that are attributed to him:
“If I had a position,
Then I would be at fault,
But because I have no position,
I can only be without fault.”
(Refutation of Objections, verse 29)
It is hard to imagine being without a position. I spend most of my day going from one opinion and idea to the next. However, the way I understand this quote is that in order to fully understand the ultimate truth we need to be able to abandon all our concepts and labels and instead learn to directly experience the truth of existence.
As the homage to the Heart Sutra states:
“Beyond words, beyond thought, beyond description, Prajnaparamita
Unborn unceasing, the very essence of space
Yet it can be experienced as the wisdom of our own Rigpa
Homage to the mother of the Buddhas of past present and future!”
Sounds simple, but it is truly very difficult to accomplish.