Looking around at the people and things which come into our orbit, we can be easily misled. The seeing mind is dynamic, complex, and can be affected by a gnawing hunger for lunch, a yearning for praise or even a craving for peace and justice, filling our minds with opinions and judgements. A wide range of feelings rise up when right and wrong becomes solidified. From within this familiar ground, we can find refuge in the Dharma teachings of “View,” the theme of this issue of Mountain Record.
Starting with the Buddha’s teachings on Right View, the first aspect of the Noble Eight-fold Path, we explore the Mahayana teachings of the ultimate view—the emptiness of all forms and phenomena—from several teacher’s perspectives. As Shugen Roshi offers in his discourse, our view is shaped by our constant positioning of self, which limits our experience of what is real. When we take into account the components of Right View—the karma we struggle with, the impermanence we’d rather avoid seeing—we can begin releasing ourselves from fear and aversion, seeing through the cherished opinions we usually take for real. As Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche says, all duality gives fodder for deluded views, and yet these waves of confusion “are the expressive power of the view. They are not separate from the view.”
How does a practice of direct experience help us navigate the minefield of right and wrong? Dharma teacher Pema Chodron explores creative ways of breaking down the walls of ‘otherness.’ Writings by ancient Ch’an Masters point directly to the qualities of an awakened mind, qualities we are reminded are innate—our true nature—and always available to us even in our delusion. Several authors investigate aspects of life where our view can change radically—be it through love as writes James Baldwin, through exploration of the tensions of embedded racism and bigotry that Beth Loffreda writes about, or in dismantling old habitual ways of being as told in Sangha Reflections stories.
Each of us, in our wholehearted practice, can experience this opening up as we look at our minds and then look still again. Myotai Sensei writes that this is the life-changing exploration which is never really finished; like turning on a light in a dark room, it’s still the same physical space but something has radically changed.
With willingness, we look carefully and look again, strengthening and clarifying with wisdom and compassion, seeing how our lives can be of benefit to all in this aching world.
Suzanne Taikyo Gilman
Mountain Record Editor