A Student writes:
When I hear the Omze’s words just before the end of Formless Meditation sessions, I often feel moved to tears. When the Omze says the meditator’s verse: “there is nothing to remove and nothing to add…” [lines from the Ratnagotravibhaga spoken a few minutes before the end of a meditation session in the Awakened Heart Sangha] – it fills me with a sense of relief but also a great longing for something I can’t quite define or name. Perhaps it is the desire for liberation?
However, I fear that the longing and desire are a form of grasping and this confuses me. In the Mahamudra Pranidhana which I recite most days, there are the lines: “Grasping after good experience is liberated in itself, The confusion of negative thoughts is liberated in the spaciousness of their true nature.”
Is this saying that it’s OK to have this longing and desire for liberation? This is perhaps a naïve question, but I am only just beginning to realise how little I really understand. I am very confused by the powerful welling up of emotion at the Omze’s verse. Perhaps you can shed some light on this for me?
Lama Shenpen responds:
Thank you for your questions, they are very important ones and it often comes up for practitioners. I was interested in your experience of tears welling up when you hear ‘there is nothing to remove and nothing to add’. That sense that actually we are enough just as we are – what a relief just to hear that and know we are totally loveable and adequate in ourselves – all we need now is to realise that fully and its full implications – our nature is Buddha – and what does that mean?
We are on the journey to find that out. It might also be a sense of awakening faith in your heart that brings tears to your eyes – the words are deeply meaningful and link us directly to our Buddha Nature and Buddha Nature of all Buddhas and all beings. So it is apt for it to move us to tears – an opening out to truth – that is what faith means.
As for longing for Awakening, for wisdom, for happiness, for all beings to be liberated from samsara – that is the Buddha Nature itself – also called Bodhichitta – Awakened Heart or Enlightened Mind. The feeling of revulsion towards samsara and a longing for Awakening/Enlightenment is what sets us on the path and keeps us on it till we realise the fruit of the path. It is essential to have that longing until the fruit is attained at which point there is no more longing because the goal we longed for has been reached and all our desires satisfied – complete content!
So the line in the Mahamudra Prayer that says “Grasping after good experience is liberated in itself, The confusion of negative thoughts is liberated in the spaciousness of their true nature.”
Is talking about the final stage of realisation – we get glimpses of this state along the way .. They form the base of the practice. Accustomising ourselves to this is the path and full realisation is the fruit. It is the Lama’s role to point out to you the base – and help you gain confidence in it.
Lama Shenpen Hookham
Find out more here about how to become of student of Lama Shenpen and join the training in Formless Meditation, reflection and insight, with the Living the Awakened Heart Training from the Awakened Heart Sangha.