Prayer of Heartfelt Aspiration – intimations of view, meditation and action –

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Prayer of Heartfelt Aspiration
– intimations of view, meditation and action –
a versified essay by Tarchin Hearn, 2012

Preamble:
Evening breeze is scattering white scud
cross the tops of winter waves.  Shadows lengthen
gulls swoop and glide
and the smell of salt and tidal flats
blends with light and air,
tanging the nostrils, guiding the breath.

Muscles flexing, attentions shifting,
this now-full world,
so immediately precious, so densely rich,
moving with the soft swish of sand grains whirling
cross the rippled surface
like swirling fog or blowing snow.

Strolling on Southshore Beach,
reflecting on life, and meaning, and refuge, and home,
contemplating spacious openness, a broad, embracing, utter fullness,
a vast concoursing of interbecoming,
a filigreed weaving of being and beingness
blossoming now as contemplation unfolding.

And in the midst of this wild and wonder-filled walking, words of aspiration flooded my knowing.  They came in a steady rush, virtually complete in the form you will now read them.  It was one of those simple but magical moments that, in retrospect, seemed to be packed with unlooked for potential.  Years have passed and these verses have resonated through me, again and again; sometimes bits of them, sometimes phrases, and occasionally whole stanzas.  Increasingly, they have become for me, a summation of profound instruction, a reminder of what’s important, from a deep, universal, and immensely inclusive way of being.

 

Prayer of Heartfelt Aspiration
In the great expanse of pristine simplicity
in faith and trust and wonderment, we give ourselves to this suchness;
this seamless mystery of birthing and dying.

Spacious, loving, with feet solid in the earth,
we nurture the hints at blessedness;
the myriad faces and masks of god.

Moving in this flow of compassion and deepening enquiry;
we engage with all beings in ways that support the integrity,
stability and beauty of the entire biotic community.

Reflections – after the fact
It may be that these verses speak to you with great immediacy and directness – intuition to intuition.  If this is the case then any further explanation may detract from your experience.  For those, however, that would appreciate some explanatory comments, here are a few possibilities that have emerged in the course of my ongoing contemplations.  They would often come like flickers and sparks, a moment of illumination here, a flash of inspiration there.  New understandings would open into broader experience which in turn often led to further understandings, ones that were not immediately obvious in that originally inspired moment on the beach.

A View of the Ground – the Fundamental Base or Situation
“One’s view of things is all embracing” – Padmasambhava

In the great expanse of pristine simplicity
in faith and trust and wonderment, we give ourselves to this suchness;
this seamless mystery of birthing and dying.
 

The first verse hints at the possibility of releasing into a way of being and becoming that is radically inclusive – an evolving wholeness that is essentially “beyond all words and symbols”.1  Sakyamuni Buddha referred to the unpindownable interbeingness of lived experience as ‘suchness’ or ‘thusness’.  In some schools of Buddhism it has become known as the dharmakaya, the body or embodiment (kaya) of truth (dharma).  Sometimes it is called the dharmadhatu, ‘the total field of all events and meanings’.  Other traditions have called it the mystery, or emptiness, or the ungraspable, or sometimes ‘the void’ or the transcendental – in that it transcends verbal description.  Physicist David Bohm spoke of the unbroken wholeness of totality, while sages of many times and places have often preferred to remain silent.  This suchness is the ground from which we come, the fundamental basis of knowledge/experience.  It is the matrix and mystery of what we are.

In modern speech we might say that the full truth and dynamic of life, is essentially a no-name-product.  The entire world and everything in it is a dynamic conversation of conversations, an intermingling of forms and processes that involves everything and everyone, from elemental material, through to cognition, empathy and knowing.  It is a great intermeshing ecology of life and lives, and my writing about it, and your reading about it are an ongoing part of it.  As said in a Sufi saying; it doesn’t matter how fast you run or how hard you dig your heals in, you can’t get away from your own two feet.  Well, it doesn’t matter how fast you run or how hard you dig your heals in, none of us can get away from being the vast mystery of life unfolding that we are.

These first three lines remind us of our true refuge and home – the thusness of this moment – the suchness that we are.  This vision is hinted at in the following prayer of refuge, taken from a sadhana of Chenrezi.2

I take refuge in wisdom, compassion and non-clinging awareness.
I take refuge in the full richness of here.
I take refuge in the ever present immediacy of now.
Truth is all around me.
It is the thusness of this moment,
The suchness that we are.
My refuge is to live within the truth.

The great expanse of pristine simplicity
Great or vast expanse is a translation for the Tibetan word ‘longchen’ which is also the name of one of Tibet’s most renowned yogis and exponents of dzogchen, the teaching, path and realization of great completeness.

Vast expanse could also be expressed as immeasurable expanse; neither big nor small, literally un-measurable, since when considering all that is, there is nothing outside this to compare it with or to measure it against.  ‘Great’ alludes to the meaning of mahamudra which is commonly translated as great gesture, or great symbol or, as Namgyal Rinpoché once said, ‘great movement’.  Both dzogchen and mahamudra realization occur as a realm of immediacy that is vast, timeless, immeasurably spacious and open; a breadth of heart and understanding that is utterly inclusive, with exactly enough room for everything.

pristine simplicity  =>  original, unmodified simplicity; just as it is-ness with no additions or embellishments.  Simplicity is quite different from simplification.  It is not something small, or summarized, or dumbed down – ‘for simpletons’.  This vast expansive, utterly inclusive simplicity, or just -as-it-is-ness, is the actual state of affairs, the fundamental ground and dance of being.

‘Pristine’ simplicity could also be expressed as ‘true’ simplicity.  True is more than just the opposite of false.  In older forms of English, it was used as a verb.  One would ‘true’ a wheel if it became bent out of shape.  When I was young, I learned to true my bicycle wheels by tightening and loosening the spokes.  Once ‘trued’ the wheel would spin smoothly and evenly.  It was well rounded.

Putting these ideas together, pristine or true simplicity is well rounded, well balanced, smoothly functioning, ‘as-it-isness’(in all its fullness), with no additions, embellishments or detractions.

The word simplicity also alludes to one of the four great yogas of Mahamudra in which one experientially realizes that the natural state of being is free from the extremes of either arising, or dwelling, or ceasing.  The whole universe along with all the ‘sub-wholes’ that collaborate in making it up, is a simultaneous arising, dwelling and ceasing; like waves and ripples on the ocean.  The arising or appearing of one thing is the ceasing or disappearing of something else.  Every arising/ceasing process is a dwelling or a transient form, or shape, of being.  Resting effortlessly, in the midst of this life unfolding – whatever its situation and circumstance – is the yoga of simplicity.

In faith and trust and wonderment
Faith is trust, directed outwardly.  Trust is faith, directed inwardly.  You are thoroughly trussed up, like a bridge or a turkey or a medieval cathedral – richly supported from all sides and directions.  Together, faith and trust imply a sense of solidness, groundedness, unshakableness and rootedness.  In a very deep and profound sense they point to a firm confidence of belonging; life belonging to and with life; rooted in the world, rooted in this moment, rooted in this unfolding nowness – truely home.

Grounded in faith and trust is not a merely passive state.  At the same time, one is also vibrant with wonderment, awestruck in the face of life’s mystery, filled with curiosity and energized by the deepening of one’s understanding.  This is a beautiful synergy of profoundly nourishing ease and vividly attentive engagement.

We give ourselves to this suchness.
As a prayer said in the privacy and depths of your innermost contemplation, it may feel right to say, “I give myself”.  After all, how can you speak for others without sounding presumptuous or at least using a lot of poetic license – employing the royal ‘we’?  But looking with the eyes of deep ecology, you are much more than the autonomous entity you commonly think of as yourself.  You are also a community of beings, for example; the community of trillions of cells that, at this very moment, are interrelating with each other to make up the awesome dynamic you call your body.  Even more, you are a community of communities; a vast ecology of life, involving myriad dimensions of being and becoming: atoms, molecules, cells, tissues, organisms, species and bio-regions; families and societies, political structures and education systems; thoughts, dreams, memories and understandings.  It has taken the entire universe to make you, in fact – universes of universes.  You exist, as do I and everyone else, as a web of interdependencies, so even if you are alone in a room, you could still recite these verses saying ‘we’ and mean it in a vast and profound way.  It takes all of us for ‘me’ to speak!

Give  => Giving, or generosity is the first and most fundamental practice of the path of healing and awakening.  Giving our self or giving our attentiveness, is the one gift we can offer that no one else can.  You as you are, in all your fullness, are different from anyone that came before and anyone that will follow after.  Each moment is fresh in it’s inherent uniqueness.  Nothing is exactly repeatable.  To give your attentiveness, to fully engage with another, is to enrich both your lives.  To withhold your attention is to leave the world a little bit poorer

There is another understanding of give and giving that is associated with engineering.  In that discipline, materials, for example, steel or cement or wood, are said to have measurable amounts of ‘give’.  This is important when building in a country like New Zealand where there are many earthquakes.  Here, ‘give’ refers to a capacity to flex and bend.  It refers to a degree of resilience and responsiveness that allows buildings and bridges to sway in response to wind and seismic shifts.  A material that has no give is brittle and instead of flexing and bending, it will shatter.  The same applies to bodies and minds.

this suchness => The word ‘this’, emphasizes that the very act of thinking or reciting these words, along with the ambient situation that supports it, is itself an expression of the suchness of here and now.  There is no suchness somewhere else, apart from this very moment, in all its rich and varying detail.  Look around you.  This is it!

We give ourselves to this suchness. => We release, we offer ourselves, we surrender into this suchness.  We flex and bend and respond as living expressions of this dynamic suchness.3

This seamless mystery of birthing and dying.
Each and every thing – each and every moment – is a simultaneous coming into being and passing away.  The appearing of one thing is the disappearing of another.  In each moment of arriving we depart.  Every departure is a fresh arrival.  Everything is awesomely, terrifyingly, amazingly, disturbingly, seamlessly, transient – radically transient.  Yet, it is what we are.  We are birthed into the world as we simultaneously ‘die’ from the womb.  This self sustaining, self creating, birthing dying, autopoietic dance we call ‘life’ is seamless.  It is occurring in every dimension and realm of being and becoming – this great and wondrous mystery!

Meditation, Path and Practice
“One’s thoughts are in tune with every situation.” – Padmasambhav 

Spacious, loving, with feet solid in the earth,
we nurture the hints at blessedness;
the myriad faces and masks of god.

The second verse points directly into the heart of meditation and awakening practice, hinting at a path or way of living that actively nurtures a maturing realization of suchness.

Spacious, loving, with feet solid in the earth
These are three qualities of a seasoned meditator dwelling in an appreciation of suchness.

Spacious => open, unimpeded, all containing, all embracing, free from contention and grasping, immeasurable, ineffable, translucent, accommodating.  Spacious as opposed to dense, tight, opaque, clinging, restrictive.

Softening, releasing, allowing, and gently investigating, will reveal this ever present, all embracing spacious openness.  Softening the dense, tense, tight, frightened, grasping, frozen parts of our physical body, feelings, energies and concepts, while at the same time, looking deeply into them with eyes of interbeing – eyes that can appreciate the profound here–and–now interdependency and intermingling of knower and known.

Loving => caring, profoundly accepting, warm hearted, deeply interested, generously engaging, curious and present.  Willingly entering the dance of phenomena, fully engaging with being and beings with friendliness, warmth, and appreciation.

Feet solid in the earth => well established, firm, unshakable, rooted and at home in the ground of becoming; solid in the ground of serene alertness, clear discernment, keen perceptiveness and vivid cognizance.  Feet firmly planted in the living earth of interconnectedness, interbeingness and interdependency; this matrix and fabric of life rooted in itself and utterly at home in itself.

These three qualities mutually balance and augment each other.  The quality of spaciousness hints at the aspects of experience that are ungraspable, and un-pin-down-able; open and vast like the sky.  This is a spaciousness that can host and accommodate whatever and whoever appears in the field of one’s experience.  The presence of love holds the diversity of life together in the embrace of mutual care and vitalizing wonderment. To feel our feet solid in the earth is to feel solid and grounded, utterly balanced, unshakably centered in this particular mandala of suchness.

We nurture the hints at blessedness
the myriad faces and masks of god.
Hints at blessedness could be thought of as the techniques, practices and contemplative themes that remind us, or propel us, or draw us towards a fluid and lightly touching dance of knowing and being – a unitive interminglement of subject and object, inner and outer, self and other.  These disciplines, whatever their outer form, are like the masks of god that Joseph Campbell devoted his life to investigating and writing about in his monumental description of mythologies from different cultures throughout history.  God is not a word one expects to find in a Buddhist context but I use it because it is deeply engrained in the philosophical and emotional continuums of people raised in countries shaped by Judeo/Christian belief.  I use it with a small ‘g’, – god rather than God – to indicate that I’m referring, not to the God of a particular religion but to god as totality, wholeness and the all inclusive mystery of all that is.

Everything we see and experience, simultaneously masks other realms of being and becoming that are invisibly co-existing with what we are seeing.  For example, when we meet a person, we don’t necessarily see the atoms or molecules that make up the person.  We don’t see their parents and brothers and sisters and the cultural systems of education, religion and economics that so shaped them.  Each act of perception tends to mask other possibilities of perception.  We might ask ourselves, what is behind the mask or even, is there any nameable or graspable thing behind it at all?  What is the utter fullness or totality of anything?  A hint towards blessedness is a ‘mask’ of god.  It is what we have to work with and converse with, but although we are speaking or engaging with a mask – one face or aspect of the mystery – behind it, is a totality of being that allows the conversation.

Blessedness => The word Sanskrit word bhagavan is sometimes translated as blessed or blessedness or blessed one.  It is a multi-faceted term that literally points to a state of coming, going and being.  It would be handy to have a such a word in English.  To realize that every phenomena is a simultaneous coming, going and being – a vast interactive community of inter-being – is to dwell in a blessed state.  Blessedness is the state of being utterly one with the ineffable fullness of reality, the total field of all events and meanings – just as it is.

Hints => There are uncountable possible hints at blessedness reflecting the uncountable interests and understandings of people.  Think of hints as intimations, gentle but firm whispers or nudges from an interior wisdom, towards a deep remembering of what and who we are.  Hints may come in the form of general practices and contemplations such as love, clear seeing, mindfulness, forgiveness and acceptance.  Hints may be in the guise of poetry or written texts or in the form of specific activities.  Watching the breath may be a hint, or practicing a particular sadhana.  Reflecting on a pithy instruction may serve as a hint, or gazing at a beautiful sunset.  For some, gardening, tai chi, caring for another, creating art or listening to music are hints.  Great treasuries of mystical teachings and technique are filled with hints.  The possibilities are unlimited.  What serves as a hint for one person may not be a hint for another.  What serves as a hint at one time in our life may not serve as a hint at another time.  We nurture these hints by practicing, following or engaging with them.  We nurture them by bringing forth conditions that will honour and support them.

Regardless of which ‘mask of god’ we find ourselves drawn to, to be reminded of the simultaneous vast mystery and utter ordinariness of what we are, and to be plunged into a state of reverence for life in all its variety, is a precious arising worth nurturing, both in ourselves and in others.  My life is enriched and augmented when you nurture the hints at blessedness.  Your life is enriched and augmented when I too, do so.  In this way we can respect and support the hints at blessedness in others, even when they are quite different from what works as a hint for oneself.  Gradually, through the nurturing, we learn the art of resting in this ever available suchness; ineffable, vast and open, utterly inclusive, vibrantly present and fundamentally un-pin-downable – this mystery ripening as the unique fullness of one’s life.

Action or Way of Engagement in the World – A Meaningful Fruition
“All one’s actions spring from this.” – Padmasambhava

Moving in this flow of compassion and deepening enquiry;
we engage with all beings in ways that support the integrity,
stability and beauty of the entire biotic community.

The third verse points towards an ethic or way of engagement that is profoundly life enhancing and in tune with the world – a world that is experienced not so much as a complex system or ecology of interweaving and interdependent objects and processes, but, as theologian Thomas Berry once beautifully put it, is a living communion of subjects.4  How do we mesh the reverence and wonderment that suffuses our being in the realization of suchness unfolding, with the so called necessity of day to day decision making?

Moving in this flow of compassion and deepening enquiry
Realizing suchness and nurturing the hints at blessedness, we enter a life that is imbued with compassion and deepening enquiry, a life that is effortlessly in tune with every thought and every situation.  It’s what we are.  It’s what we do.

Compassion, love, caring, and support; inclusivity, ease, and increasing sense of here–and–now–belonging; these are natural out-flowings of calm and well being.  In Buddhist teachings they are referred to with the word samatha which is often translated as calm abiding.

Deepening enquiry, investigation, curiosity and subtle discernment; question, refined sensitivity, investigation, clear seeing engagement, and profoundly inclusive understanding; these are hallmarks of what is called insight or vipassana.

Samatha is the soft, passive, accepting, loving, healing, accommodating, allowing aspect of each moment.  Vipassana is the sharp, active, questioning, discerning, awake, aspect.  Samatha facilitates our sense of unity.  Vipassana facilitates our sense of diversity.  The two together brings us to the simultaneous understanding of the infinite diversity and the profound unity of all that exists.

Dwelling in a space of love,
tendrils of curiosity reaching forth in all directions,

we feel our way,
softening and sensitizing into the richness of community,

a living world within us, around us and through us.

Apprentices of wonderment and awe,

probing and questioning,

sampling and savouring

with calm abiding and vivid discernment together exquisitely intermeshed,

we touch our home,

this world,
of you and me and all of us together,

precious

beyond words.

We engage with all beings
Engagement with beings isn’t optional.  It is a non-negotiable fact of life.  We are always engaged.  It is the fundamental makeup of what we are – myriad realms of engagement in action: engaging atoms, molecules, cells, organisms, societies, eco-systems.  Ultimately, we are an engaging of all beings.  The question is not whether or not to engage but how we are engaging.

In ways that support the integrity, stability
and beauty of the entire biotic community.
Supporting the integrity, stability and beauty of the entire biotic community is a phrase borrowed from Aldo Leopold.5  The entire biotic community ultimately involves everything: animate, inanimate, conceptual, and perceptual; a vast network of dynamic processes and systems of processes, a weaving of self and other, individual and collective.  This is the ultimate sangha or community – the sangha of interbeing and interbecoming.

Each of us participates in myriad realms of community.  Perhaps we could say, each of us is a living demonstration or embodiment of myriad realms of community.  Community is an enactment of communing and responsive relating.  A few of these realms we consciously experience but most of them we can only infer.  For example, molecules respond and relate to and with neighbouring molecules in the vast and complex filigree of processes that we call a living cell.  Cells are at the same time structurally coupling with other cells.  Discrete communities of cells called tissues are continuously collaborating with and ‘talking’ to other tissues in the process of forming the bodies of beings which, in turn interlink and mingle together as families, tribes, societies, ecosystems and worlds.  Interrelating is going on at every level; molecules shaping ecosystems; societies and belief systems affecting organs and tissues.  Community is a process – a verb, not a noun.

Deep and subtle mindfulness practice reveals this world of beginningless, endless, dance –
dynamically integrated systems within systems, coupling with and responding to the activity of other dynamically integrated systems within systems, coupling with and responding to the activity of other . . . . . !!! 

Everything and everyone is a flowing transformation of causes and conditions in uncountable dimensions and realms.  It is what community is.  It’s what life is.  Vibrant living community is a dynamic process that is shaped by and in turn influences other dynamics of community.  This is the living world – the entire biotic community.  It’s what we are.  It’s what we do.  It’s everywhere we look.

Integrity => The integrity of an ecosystem is demonstrated by its myriad and multi-layerings of dynamic integration.  Each of us could be thought of as a living world, living upon and in and with, other living worlds.  Everything and everyone is continuously adjusting, and readjusting to their shifting surrounds.  We build homes in each other and upon each other and out of each other.  We live on and in and through each other.  We eat each other, grow on and in each other, and die in one and other’s presence.  We are engagements of being and becoming on so many levels and in so many realms, that the wholeness of the simplest creature defies any attempt to pin it down in verbal definition and so, the great Buddhist philosophers called it ’emptiness’ or sunyata.  This is a creative and mobile universe; universes of lived experience within universes of lived experience, yet out of this riotous dance of rock, gas, liquid, solar energy, living beings, and groups of beings, there is an appearance of process, embodied in the form of healthy creatures and ecosystems that span sufficient periods of time for us to imagine they are something solidly here.  The inner-ness and outer-ness of being, conform with each other with utter integrity.  We could say that each of us is an extraordinary integrity of integration in action.

Stability => From a biological perspective, life is inherently conservative, evidenced by chemical transformation patterns (metabolisms, DNA, RNA, protein and membrane synthesis) that have been operating in an uninterrupted manner for 3,500 million years.  These cellular processes of construction, maintenance and replication have structurally coupled together to form organisms which themselves interact in dynamic symbiotic associations called societies and biomes.  Life, manifesting myriad wondrous forms, has been thriving for billions of years as a diversifying continuum.  In this way it is awesomely stable – more so than mountains and continents, in fact more so than anything on the surface of earth other than earth itself.  Our current infatuation with newness, change and modernity can easily obscure a deeply mysterious, creative stability that is the foundation and matrix of our lives.

Beauty => Beauty reveals itself in moments of intense balance and vitality.  A linking of breath and heartbeat and heightened perception, and intimations of wonder and awe, arises with a profound sense of the exquisite rightness of creature and environment.  A sense of beauty comes with a harmonious accord of inner and outer, both physically and mentally, an equilibrium and poise and natural dignity that is both robust and delicate, shining with vulnerability and pristine innocence.  Healthy meadows, forests, estuaries and deserts, all of them examples of living communities, reverberate vitality and harmonious balance, a magnificent symphony of lives that has whispered beauty to healthy humans in all times and cultures.

As we become more real – and that surely requires us to be breathtakingly, extraordinarily, ordinary – we will gauge the health of situations, not by taking polls or by counting hits on a Face-book page.  We will recognize health, not as a display of latest fashion or the newest rage, not even by quantifying carbon atoms or counting species, but by the deep interior sense of beauty that emanates from the fullness of being that is the life of anyone who is deeply integrated and in life affirming relationship with this miracle, this suchness, that we are.

When it comes to the nitty gritty of day to day decisions, could we re-contact the space of compassion and deepening enquiry and then ask ourselves if this proposed action tends to support the integrity, the stability and the beauty of the entire biotic community?  If it does we will feel good in going ahead with it.  If it doesn’t, we might reconsider, and look for ways that do.

Postscript:
View, meditation and action is a venerable way of summarizing the entire path of awakening that transcends schools, traditions, sects and sectarianisms.  This pithy three fold reminder of living dharma is particularly utilized in the Mahamudra and Dzogchen forms of Tibetan Buddhism.  A correct or complete view is experience that is all embracing and all inclusive.  Given the fragmented and compartmentalized, self and other, inner and outer, mundane and spiritual, nature of today’s world, we need to use all our intelligence; feeling, sensing, thinking and intuiting, in order to discover such an all embracing way of viewing.  With this perspective, meditation then essentially involves learning the art of resting in the midst of such seeing/experiencing, in an increasingly wide range of situations and circumstances.  My second root teacher, the Ven. Kalu Rinpoché used to say that meditation was mostly a matter of acclimatization.  Skillful action or life affirming participation in the world, naturally and effortlessly flows out from the breadth of our view and the stability of our meditation.

In ending this versified essay, we find ourselves back at the beginning.
May each one of us walk our own ocean beaches,
reflecting on life, and meaning, and refuge, and home,
contemplating spacious openness, a broad, embracing, utter fullness,
a vast concoursing of interbecoming
a filigreed weaving of being and beingness
and come to know that .  .  .

 

In the great expanse of pristine simplicity
in faith and trust and wonderment, we give ourselves to this suchness;
this seamless mystery of birthing and dying.

Spacious, loving, with feet solid in the earth,
we nurture the hints at blessedness;
the myriad faces and masks of god.

Moving in this flow of compassion and deepening enquiry;
we engage with all beings in ways that support the integrity,
stability and beauty of the entire biotic community.

May this prayer of aspiration enter your continuum and quicken something marvellous and health giving, for the sake of living beings great and small everywhere.

Sarva Mangalam

Endnotes:
1 Tilopa, a mahasiddha of ancient India said in his “Song of Mahamudra”, “Mahamudra is beyond all words and symbols.,”  He might have said, ultimate truth or the full richness of here and now, or the total field of all events and meanings, is beyond all words and symbols – beyond precisely accurate verbal description.

2 See The Sadhana of Mahakarunika Chenrezi, <www.greendharmatreasury.org>
under Writings/Practices

3 In Mahayana texts, the Buddha often referred to himself as tathagata, ‘one who is moving, or journeying, or way-faring (gata) as suchness or thusness (tatha)‘.  He used the term thusness/suchness to draw attention to the fact that no specific concept or notion can define being as it really is in all its entirety and all its dimensions.

Thomas Cleary, in an essay on the terminology and symbolism of the Avatamsaka Sutra, wrote “The term ‘thusness’ (or ‘suchness’) hence can refer specifically to the inconceivable real nature of things, which is also called “emptiness’ to allude to the lack of intrinsic meaning of signs and names by which particular things are discriminated and defined.  Also, thusness (suchness) can refer to the pure nature (the complete nature) of the mind; when the mind is clear and this inherently pure nature is unobscured, reality as it is becomes apparent.  Thusness is sometimes spoken of as “pure” and “defiled”, or “unchanging” and “going along with conditions;” the first item of each pair refers to the unique real nature which is equal in everything, while the second refers to apparent reality, the realm of myriad differentiations.  Thusness, is also equated with “buddha-nature” and the “realm of reality”, which includes both absolute and ordinary reality.”  (The Flower Ornament Scripture, Thomas Cleary, Shambala, 1993, p 1527)

4 Thomas Berry – “The Great Work” Bell Tower, 1999

5 Aldo Leopold ­– “A Sand County Almanac” Oxford University Press, 1989
“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, the stability and beauty of the biotic community.  It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”

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