The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

realjannaweiss

The-Tibetan-Book-of-Living-and-Dying

THIS LIFE: THE NATURAL BARDO 129

she realized that there was nowhere to run to, because what

she was really trying to run away from was herself.

I told her that doubt is not a disease, but merely a symptom

of a lack of what we in our tradition call "the View,"

which is the realization of the nature of mind, and so of the

nature of reality. When that View is there completely, there

will be no possibility for the slightest trace of doubt, for then

we'll be looking at reality with its own eyes. But until we

reach enlightenment, I said, there will inevitably be doubts,

because doubt is a fundamental activity of the unenlightened

mind, and the only way to deal with doubts is neither to suppress

nor indulge them.

Doubts demand from us a real skillfulness in dealing with

them, and I notice how few people have any idea how to

pursue doubts or to use them. Isn't it ironic that in a civilization

that so worships the power of deflation and doubt, hardly

anyone has the courage to deflate the claims of doubt itself, to

do as one Hindu master said: turn the dogs of doubt on doubt

itself, to unmask cynicism and to uncover the fear, despair,

hopelessness, and tired conditioning it springs from? Then

doubt would no longer be an obstacle, but a door to realization,

and whenever doubt appeared in the mind, a seeker

would welcome it as a means of going deeper into the truth.

There is a story I love about a Zen master. This master had

a faithful but very naive student, who regarded him as a living

buddha. Then one day the master accidentally sat down on a

needle. He screamed, "Ouch!" and jumped into the air. The

student instantly lost all his faith and left, saying how disappointed

he was to find that his master was not fully enlightened.

Otherwise, he thought, how would he jump up and

scream out loud like that? The master was sad when he realized

his student had left, and said: "Alas, poor man! If only he

had known that in reality neither I, nor the needle, nor the

'ouch' really existed."

Don't let us make the same impulsive mistake as that Zen

student. Don't let us take doubts with exaggerated seriousness,

or let them grow out of proportion, or become black-andwhite

or fanatical about them. What we need to learn is how

slowly to change our culturally conditioned and passionate

involvement with doubt into a free, humorous, and compassionate

one. This means giving doubts time, and giving ourselves

time to find answers to our questions that are not

merely intellectual or "philosophical," but living and real and

genuine and workable. Doubts cannot resolve themselves

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