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Tuning In to the Buddhafield

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by Kamalashila

... physics and chemistry. This is a big part of the world that we exist in, and nature
operates in those particular ways in terms of gravity, et cetera. There is the whole
biosphere - the realm of organisms like you and me, bodies, bacteria, organs of
reproduction, digestion, growth, decay. So there’s that biological nature of things - green
nature you could say, you could call it that. There’s the nature that governs mental
functioning, like sensing - you know, perceiving things, responding to things, reacting to
things. All beings sense one another in various ways. They detect the stuff that’s around
them. There is an automatic coordination of hand and eye, or idea and voice. And there
is the subtle nature of connection - that whole area that conditions how our senses
function and the way we create a world out of that sense of functioning. It’s as though
there is another whole realm of nature.

But then getting more subtle, Buddhism singles out in particular the nature of action, the
nature of deliberate action. All conscious acts - everything we do consciously - has a
particular effect on the person who acts, and this is a very particular realm of nature
which Buddhism specializes in, you could say. It’s the area of karma or ethics - karma
meaning action - or you could say the area of directing the mind and of personal change.
Ethical sensitivity has its own world of conditionality. The way you are sorry when
you’ve hurt someone, so you do your best not to do that, you do your best to be kind - on
a good day.

It just shows how subtle the conditionality is that we have around ethical sensitivity. We
have it, (but there are all the ways) that it can go wrong - you can kind of slip from that
ethical sensitivity and become very hardened to others’ suffering. You can become
totally hardened and insensitive to others’ suffering. You can become more and more of a
monster. And this, again, is a potential we all have - some of us more than others in
different ways. This area of conditionality of the area of action of ethics, or action, or
karma is also that whole area that covers what you do in your head. The acts you do
without anyone knowing about them, and also those acts that you make very sure people
do know about. And all that will, all that “will-ing,” is having an effect on us behind the
scenes. It’s like Dorian Grey, you know, this guy in one of Oscar Wilde’s short stories.
He had a secret portrait of himself and this secret portrait reflected how he really was. So,
in normal life he just looked like a nice handsome young guy, but up in his attic the
portrait increasingly became more and more horrible, and more and more monstrous.
And the more kindly he was in his real life the more beautiful this image became. That’s
a bit like us in a way.

So there are all these different natures, you could say, different aspects of our nature
which we are very much in touch with. Everything has its particular nature and works
only in accordance with its nature. Raindrops don’t rise up in the sky, they just keep
falling on our heads. Wounds fester or heal up - it just works that way. Food is digested -
it works that way. If you open your eyes you are going to see something. It works that
way, it’s how eyes work. Be generous and it’s usually going to have a good effect on
everyone around. That’s the way that works, you could say. So everything according to
its nature.

Even spiritual development, even insight and awakening, has its own way of unfolding,
has its own nature. And we can call that the “dharma nature” or the Dharma Niyama, the
conditioning effect of the real truth of the way things are. When you come under the
influence of Reality in this sense - actual reality - things happen. Things happen in
particular ways. You come under its influence through your practice. Through the
practice of waking to reality through samatha - calming the mind. Through helpful,
ethical behavior. Through meditations like the Mindfulness of Breathing practice, which
have a calming, harmonizing effect. And through your practice of vipassana, coming
closer to the real truth of things through seeing their insubstantial nature - that’s the other
branch, if you like, of Buddhist practice. And doing these things touches something very,
very deep. Or looking at it another way, and perhaps a more real way, something touches
you very deeply. You come into its orbit, under its influence, into the world of influences
that is the dharmakaya or the Dharma Niyama. This is also called the “dharma nature,”
the nature of Reality or Truth. And as you might notice in my talk I’m trying to paint a bit
of a picture, give a feeling or an impression of the conditioned nature of all existence on
all these different levels. We live in a world of influences within which we ourselves are
an influence. That’s the way things really are. That’s pratiyasamutpada or conditioned
arising. And we are a very important part of that pattern, and that’s the kind of area I
would like to get into a bit in my talk.

Individually we inherit loads of influences, we inherit the influences from the deep past
of our ancestors. The way our bodies are, our skills and also our knee-jerk responses in
different areas, the nature of our biology and the nature of our perceptual processes, and
the way those have emerged into the present, the present which is us. We inherit the very
basic natural conditionings that are the great physical elements and the way they inter-
react. All this we inherit with our birth as human beings. Everyone does. I’m only stating
what you know but I’m trying to give a perspective on it. Our birth as human beings also
connects us with the influence of our cultural and spiritual ancestors. You know, all the
cultural traditions of the English, for example, or the Scots, the Irish, European, African.
Whatever they are, whatever those influences are - their poetry, their myths, their science,
their knowledge, arts, crafts, design and even fashion. Our spiritual ancestry, our
spiritual ancestors, like the Buddha for example, they’re all there, if you like, in the
background too. Even if we have no idea of the great spiritual practitioners in the many
traditions, at the same time that they are there we inherit their influence. We come under
their influence in some way, in ways that can be activated. So we are born into this great
web of connections. And the more you reflect on this pratyasamutpada, this conditioned
nature, the more you understand the various natures of all its parts, the more you can
make it work for you in your search for awakening. And this is also where you can make
yourself receptive to the influence of the Buddhas. This is where you can tune in to, in
the terms of the title of my talk, the Buddhafield. It’s the field of influence of the
awakened ones. This is what I mainly wanted to talk about.

It’s taken a while to get here because it is a very big picture that we sit in the middle of
and that whole picture is relevant. As you probably know, the Buddhist Path emerges
from the establishment of mindfulness or awareness. Mindfulness is the basis of the
Buddhist Path. Mindfulness of the great elements, mindfulness of the body and its
functions, mindfulness of the mind and its activity, mindfulness of the ethical value of all
our actions attitudes, tendencies and habits. And mindfulness of the insubstantiality, the
transparency if you like, of all things - including ourselves.

And all this practice (which many of us are doing, I would say the majority are doing this
practice) of seeing through the transparency leads to those little “deaths” of the ego
fantasy - our pride and our arrogance, our defensiveness, our concealment and all the
things that are standing in the way of the unfolding of wisdom, everything becoming
transparent and letting in the light. To put it in more mythic terms, the light of the
Dharmakaya, the real nature of life and existence. And all this being lived socially in
community and society and relationship. You know, that’s the Buddhist Path that leads
out of the establishment of a ground of awareness and the taking action in the field of
behavior. I wanted to sketch it out in this way to give some sense of the vastness of the
field of our experience. You know, not only its vastness - vastness in a way can be a bit
confusing even though it is vast - but also its character. Maybe this is the most important
thing - its character, its quality, its nature. This is the important thing. Not only that it’s
alive but what the quality of that life is. It’s this incredibly dynamic field that is our
experience here and now - as we wake from sleep, as we lose consciousness and
awareness and fall into the sleep state, as we are born into life and as we fall at death into
the after-death state. Even in addition to all this incredibly varied experience that is our
lives, I want to draw attention to it’s also being a field of awakening - a Buddhafield.

I mentioned a little while ago that we are connected to many kinds of ancestors and that
this ancestry includes Buddhas, bodhisattvas and other great ...

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