A student writes:
What does it mean to be “unruffled by attachment and aversion” [a line from the Awakened Heart Sangha’s Apramanas practice] as regards the quality of Equanimity? It is an ambiguous statement as it could mean that one doesn’t have any attachment or aversion and therefore is unruffled. Or it could mean that one still has attachment and aversion but isn’t bothered by them. Does the practice of equanimity perhaps start with working towards not being so bothered and troubled by our attachment and aversion? Then finally we arrive at a place where these conditioned reactions simply don’t arise at all and therefore, we are at peace?
Lama Shenpen replies:
Yes, this is right. It has an immediate meaning of being able to not let them buffet us about but the real meaning is to have no more attachment and aversion because one is out of the samsara mandala and in the fully blossomed Mandala of Awakening where all beings are equally neither near or far. When we are all Awakened then we will all be equally intimately connected and full of love and joy!
I was reflecting that Mara continued to appear to the Buddha after he was enlightened and so I wonder if we will ever actually eradicate attachment and aversion?
When vidya replaces avidya – the samsaric mandala collapses – it never really existed and there is nothing to attach to. Mara continuing to appear is because there are karmic connections that continue on even though one is no longer trapped in the world of karmic results and no longer creating karmic results.
None the less, you are still appearing in Mara’s world in order to benefit others. So you see those old karmic patterns and characters – ego mandala formations – but you don’t enter them or engage in them – “I see you Mara” – that is enough!
Therefore, perhaps the peace is the sense of ease and space around all experience including our habitual reactions?
Yes, that’s saying the same thing really isn’t it? On the path we glimpse the deception of Mara and don’t let ourselves be drawn into attachment and aversion, but as we lose that clarity dullness cuts in and we are deceived again and we lose our equanimity – we get ruffled and disturbed – not at peace!
Lama Shenpen Hookham
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