The body of wisdom, the functioning of wisdom—are they different? In truth, there aren’t so many things. Right here, right now, in this room, on your cushion—the light engulfs the myriad forms, the rabbit is getting pregnant. When we are “free from so many concerns,” when we’ve let go of our preoccupations and self-told stories about life, practice, freedom and suffering, then we see the light everywhere, in everything.

The verse says: One piece of empty solidity, beyond saying and feeling. The footnote to that line reads, “Stir your mind and you err, move your thoughts and you’re obstructed. Not even Buddha’s eye can catch sight of it.” The truth is not of thought and feeling. It’s not something that can be seen and held onto. And yet, as the Buddha once said, “It’s not that it’s apart from body, word and thought.” Looking deeply within, there is this one piece of empty solidity. Looking out to the world, one piece of empty solidity.

The commentary to the verse says, “What is it that the six senses are brimming with? It’s just this one mass, empty and bright, solid and quiescent. You don’t need to go to heaven to look for it. You don’t have to seek it from someone else. The perpetual light”—the unbroken thread—“spontaneously appears before us: right here in this very place it towers up like a mile-high wall, beyond verbal appellation and mental sense.” To discover and manifest this light, this one empty, bright, quiescent body, is the practice of the bodhisattva. This is the practice of compassion, the manifestation of this one body—to be truly useful and at peace with the world in all of its beauty and horror, in moments of equality and injustice. Without conflict we can then act with equanimity and be powerful and effective.

We can think that peace can only come when the conditions are right. How long have we been waiting for those conditions? How long will we keep on waiting? Is forever long enough? The Buddha didn’t want to wait. He was convinced that it wasn’t a matter of waiting or changing one’s environment. He had a sense that the conditions to discover real peace are always present within a changing world; this peace is the changing world itself. That’s the body of wisdom. Its manifestation in the changing world is its functioning.

The Buddha said that dukkha—disappointment, dissatisfaction, suffering—arises from an unrealistic view of things. It arises when we do not see things as they actually are, when we have something we don’t want or when we don’t have something we do want. When we attach to things to preserve them. When we negate things to avoid them. In other words, when we live unlike any other creature in the entire universe, because every other creature lives perfectly in accord with the Buddha’s teaching. Isn’t that interesting? That’s why Nanquan said, “Ordinary beings don’t know it. Cats and cows know it.” For us, it’s a matter of discovering that body of wisdom, which means we have to have the trust in ourselves. This trust can’t be forced but it can be cultivated with practice. Step by step, day by day, practicing the unbroken thread.

 

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