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Loving What Is

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by Vajrapriya

Loving What Is

by Vajrapriya

Audio available at: http://www.freebuddhistaudio.com/talks/details?num=LOC21 Talk given on the men’s weekend event at Padmaloka in January 2008

Jnanavaca: My name is Jnanavaca and I’m just going to introduce Vajrapriya... not that you
haven’t met Vajrapriya – all of us have met Vajrapriya, and you’ve probably had a sense of him
already even if you don’t know him very well – but I said that I would chair the talk that he’s about
to give.

I just want to say a few words about Vajrapriya... his name means “devotee of the vajra”. I just
asked him whether I could say it was “lover of the vajra”, and he said I could (rather sheepishly)
...[LAUGHTER]... so, “lover of the vajra” is Vajrapriya. Priya is this beautiful word meaning
“devotion”, or “love” – it’s a very sweet Sanskrit word. And vajra, of course, is the diamond
thunderbolt of reality.

And Vajrapriya, I think, is very well named. The vajra side of him is, I think, particularly obvious in
his mental clarity, in his determination, in his clarity, and something about his no-nonsense attitude
to the situation – to life – to whatever he finds himself in.

I mean, this weekend he was asked to step in and lead this weekend at, I don’t know, 24 hours
notice – he only found out the day before yesterday – and it is not untypical of him just to say, ‘Yes,
I’ll do it’, and then do it with more than competence: with real care, concern and flair. He is a very,
very devoted man, in the sense of devoted to whatever the situation is. For a long time he was the
Centre Manager in Cambridge, in the Cambridge Buddhist Centre, and he worked largely on his
own to keep that Centre going; I’m sure lots of other people contributed but Vajrapriya had a major,
major role there, before he became Mitra Convenor in Cambridge.

And the other aspect is the tenacity; Vajrapriya won’t let go of the truth. We were recently studying
last year with Bhante (Sangharakshita)... and it is a bit daunting to study with the great man! Most
of us were a bit sheepish about asking questions more than once – do you know what I mean? – if
you ask something, and then Bhante says, ‘........’, and you sort of say, ‘Ok!’... But not Vajrapriya!
Vajrapriya said, ‘But, what about...?’ and, ‘What about again...?’ and, ‘How does that square with
this...?’ – and he had this tenacity which was delightful: courageous and delightful. So, there is
something of the “vajra” in all of those things.

But the “priya” is in his care and concern, I think: for people, for the situation, for the Dharma, for
the truth – and there is real love in that. Despite what he was saying yesterday, he is a very, very
open-hearted, warm-hearted man. I’ve known him for about fourteen or fifteen years, and I know
that. So, Vajrapriya is very, very suitable, eminently suitable, to talk about metta: and his title is,
Loving What Is.


Finding and Clearing Away the Spring of Metta

Vajrapriya: Thank you for that very generous introduction, Jnanavaca.

Last year I spent a fair bit of time in Spain – or actually this was 2006 – a fair bit of time in the
mountains of Spain, at what is now called “Akashavana”; my partner was opening up the retreat
centre that is the ordination retreat centre for women now. And I learned quite a bit about springs; if
you live in the mountains of Spain, you have to know quite a bit about springs.

And when a spring isn’t used – when it’s not kept and maintained – what happens is that it sort of
slowly turns down into a trickle; it gets clogged up with bits of moss and earth, and the spring loses
its life.

And what you do, when you open up a new spring, is rather sweet, really; it’s a very gentle
operation. You see a leak coming out of some fissure in the rock and you sort of reach in, and you
find out where the earth and bits of moss are, and you very gradually remove these accretions of
organic matter.

It’s tempting to sort of take a bulldozer to it; sometimes people do this, or take a jack-hammer or
something and tear it back and get a nice new fresh wall for the water to come through. But springs
are mysterious things and sometimes they don’t like this; sometimes they decide to find a new route
and they just go and end up somewhere completely different; they find an underground route
somewhere completely different.

Also, interestingly, you are meant to do the opening up of a spring in the full moon. I love that –
I’m not quite sure what to make of it, but that’s what they say.

So I think metta is a bit like this. I think that allowing metta to flow is a little bit like this. It is a
very organic, very delicate process. And I think that metta is like the water table; it’s like a high
water table. It is as if there is this infinite capacity of metta present; it’s just trying to find a way
through all these fissures in our being, trying to find a way to express itself; and all we need to do is
find these routes and find out how to de-clog them a little bit.

And we’ve all got these routes. I’m sure we can all find the ways that metta expresses itself.
Sometimes it expresses itself in a particular way, or to particular people, and we just need to find
and encourage these modes of expression.

So, as I was saying last night, I think it is quite easy to look for metta in the wrong place, or in the
wrong way.

I was speaking with Saccanama and he said it’s a little bit like a panto (we’ve got a pantomime
going on in Cambridge tonight) – you know: ‘...it’s behind you!’ We can be desperately looking
for metta somewhere but actually it’s right behind us.

We might be looking for some huge torrent of some really strong feeling pouring out... I remember
my first FWBO meditation teacher, a very wonderful man, and whenever he gave a talk on the
Metta Bhavana it was so inspiring. I heard many of them, and I used to sit there completely
enraptured, and he would speak about metta not being this piddly, tiddly emotion, but this ‘huge
volcanic emotion that pours forth!’... and – you know – I would sit there and be all inspired and it
was great to hear that... and yet at the same time it can also lead us to looking for the wrong kind of
thing. That’s no criticism of his teaching – it definitely had the right effect – but maybe that’s not
actually how we experience it.

So I want to look at ways that different people might experience metta, and I want to look at ways
of starting to clear these blockages.

The Five Buddha Mandala Families and Metta

And one way I thought of looking at the different styles is by considering the Five-Buddha Mandala
(some of you will be familiar with this: maybe others aren’t). It is an illustration both of
Enlightened consciousness, and of how Enlightened consciousness gets distorted by ego-clinging
into the Samsaric forms that we know so well.

So it’s as if the totality of the Buddha Mind is so awesome and multi-faceted that the Vajrayana
decided to refract it into particular components, and over time it got refracted into at least five forms
– the five forms I’ll look at today. It is a very complex symbol, the Five-Buddha Mandala, so I
won’t go into it in anything like any detail.

So there are these five Buddhas – the five Jinas – that are each associated with a particular set of
qualities that include both Nirvanic experience and also Samsaric experience. I’ll try to explain this
a little bit.

They each express the way that Enlightened energy expresses itself, and the way that Enlightened
energy gets distorted into Samsaric energy, and each of these Buddhas can be said to be the head of
a particular Buddha family that in some way ties together a set of qualities. So we can be said to
belong to some of these families more than others.

It’s a bit like a sort of Buddhist personality/psychological analysis – you know – a bit like a
Buddhist ‘Myers-Briggs’, or something like this... and I’ll skirt through them fairly quickly in terms
of the type of love they may express – ‘how would someone in this particular Buddha family
express love?’ – maybe. (The way I’m looking at this isn’t traditional; I’m just trying to draw on
what I know of the tradition to imagine how these families might express love).

The Vajra Family: Mirror-Like Wisdom Versus Hatred

So we’ll start off in the East of the Mandala, with Akshobya. Akshobya is the Blue Buddha,
associated with the Vajra; he’s the head of the Vajra family. He is said to have a particular wisdom:
the ‘mirror-like wisdom’ – an objective, clear wisdom, very steady. He’s got the ‘touching the
earth’ mudra. A very imperturbable, steady figure.

So, maybe the way that Akshobya (or a member of the Akshobya family) would express wisdom is
a bit more like ‘equanimity’: ...

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