Dharma Gleanings


cynthia rich

July 6, 2015—July 18, 2015

July 6, 2015
I’ve made a little diagram of two images. Each image shows an inner circle, surrounded by another outer circle, with little arrows from one circle to the other. Each image expresses a different stage of our practice, and in both images the inner circle stands for our inner being at that stage.

reality circle reality circle 2

The first image represents the earlier stages of our practice—the inner circle, the space we live from, is conventional reality, with little arrows pointing in from the surrounding circle, which represents ultimate reality. In the early years of our practice we spend our time in that inner circle of conventional reality, and the little arrows show that as we practice we begin to allow ultimate reality to peek into our conventional way of being. As we advance in our practice, more and more of these arrows—insights from ultimate reality—make their way into our conventional space.

As we continue to practice, the images reverse. In the second image, the inner circle now represents ultimate reality, while conventional reality is the outer circle surrounding it. As an advanced practitioner, we are sufficiently awakened so that we can now live more and more comfortably and naturally in this second inner circle, which is the world of ultimate reality. At this stage, the little arrows point outwards from the inner circle towards the surrounding one of conventional reality, indicating that we can make forays into mainstream reality whenever and wherever that is appropriate.

Of course there are many many stages within these two ways of experiencing the world, however it can be helpful to notice when we have made a shift in how much time we are spending in one of these circles.

July 18, 2015
Sitting on retreat I suddenly became aware in a new way of the real nature of the fourteen other people in the room. I’d understood it intellectually before, however this time the understanding shifted into my cells: none of us exists. That’s how it came to me, though of course what it meant was that none of us exists in the usual way. It became obvious to me: one of us (Rachel) will see any other of us (Gwen) entirely differently from the way that I or Andrea see Gwen—physically as well as in how we perceive her character, her intellectual or emotional being. Each of us brings all of our causes and conditions of the past and of the moment, as well as the influences of our own particular physical abilities and limitations, to bear on Gwen—probably I’d be shocked to recognize Rachel’s or Andrea’s Gwen.

As we become aware of this, we sense that everything becomes very light—each of us loses our solidity, but also we lose that weight of responsibility we normally feel to interpret or evaluate Gwen’s solidity which has now evaporated or at least become gauzy. I don’t have to decide whether Gwen is a kind person, a slow person, an advanced practitioner, a confused person, beautiful or plain. I haven’t been heavy on opinions for quite some while, however now it’s transparent how very gauzy our opinions are in such a diaphanous (my new word) world.