Our lack of self frees us from the compulsion to secure ourselves within the world. We do not need to become more real by becoming wealthy, or famous, or powerful, or beautiful. We are able to realize our nonduality with the world because we are freed from such fixations.
There is no denying that our happiness is inextricably bound up with the happiness of others. There is no denying that if society suffers, we ourselves suffer. Nor is there any denying that the more our hearts and minds are afflicted with ill-will, the more miserable we become. Thus we can reject everything else: religion, ideology, all received wisdom. But we cannot escape the necessity of love and compassion.
H.H. the Dalai Lama, “Consider Yourself a Tourist”
Walking the path toward the complete ending of clinging and suffering is the noblest thing a person can do. It opens the fist of the mind, and allows a person to walk in the world with gift-bestowing hands.
There’s a story that Suzuki Roshi told. He was the Zen master at the Zen Center here in San Francisco. He went to Yosemite and saw a big waterfall coming over a cliff. It’s one river at the top of the cliff, but as it falls, the river breaks up into all these individual droplets. And then it hits the bottom of the cliff, and it’s one river again. We’re all one river ‘till we hit this cliff. That distance between the top of the cliff and the bottom of the cliff is our life. And all the individual little droplets think they really are individual little droplets until they hit the bottom, and then they’re gone. But that droplet doesn’t lose anything. It gains. It gains the rest of the river.
When we see images of the earth from space, we see no boundaries between us, just this one blue planet, where climate change affects us all, where the global economy brings us all together. In the past, Tibet, surrounded by mountains, cherished its isolation. But, such isolation is outdated. Today, we need to take account of the well-being of the whole of humanity and preserving the health of the planet.
The idea that “everyone has buddhanature” means that everyone has the capacity to awaken, not that we just have to get out of the way of our intuition. It is the nature of greed, hatred, and delusion, deep in our minds, to disguise themselves, and to mislead us into harmful behavior. We do have the potential to awaken, but we must do the hard work of distinguishing when we are motivated by greed, hatred, and delusion, and when we are motivated by their opposites—generosity, kindness, and wisdom.