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This graphic is a nirvana-samsara-nirvana sandwich. The top and bottom thirds are the bread of nirvana. The middle third is samsara brand baloney.

For me, the graphic is a tool of recognition & healing.

If we notice we're looping/pinballing in the realm of preference, that's a sign we're in samsara. If we feel pain or confusion, that's a sign we're in samsara.

Reality unfolds perfectly. The perfection's mysteriousness is an aspect of the perfection. The perfection's seeming otherwise is an aspect of the perfection.

Our minds don't buy this. Our minds say, this is bad, wrong, unacceptable, unwelcome. Or, the minds say yes yes, this here, this is good, right, acceptable, welcome. Then another thing comes along and the mind goes oh no, good god no, this is bad, wrong, unacceptable, unwelcome. Then...

That's the mind being the mind. Its doings are perfect.

Our suffering arises from buying into the mind's claims. We cling to a belief - this is good, or bad - & our thoughts & feelings match the belief, reenforcing the clinging. When what seems bad arises, we resist. When we seems good arises, we insist. When our hearts sing out the truth, we forget. We spend much of our lives in the pain & confusion caused by disbelieving reality's perfection, clinging to our preferences, and forgetting-resisting-insisting.

When our hearts open, we surrender. When we surrender, our hearts open.

Surrender isn't abandoning or pushing away. It's softening our clinging to our preferences & beholding the unfolding perfection - loving what is, as Byron Katie says.

Surrendering upward into mind, we enter the realm of faith. This faith has no dogmas or prerequisites. Faith is the experience of remembering & recognizing our true nature, which cannot be expressed in words. Words can only hint at it, point toward it, wink from it. At the top I've provided my reworking of gate gate para gate para sam gate bodhi, a line from the Buddha's heart sutra. I believe it describes the state of reunification with Oneness. If we feel clarity & peace, it's a sign we're in the realm of faith.

Surrendering downward into body, we enter the realm of being. This being has no classification. It's simply the state of feeling & sensing. Buddha said that the path to ending suffering was present moment awareness directed toward the body. Freed from its turbulent spiralling in samsara, our attention finds its natural seat in the flow of bodily awareness. If we feel present & relaxed, it's a sign we're in the realm of being.

Nirvana is experiencing the realm of faith & the realm of being as one. It comes with the heart's fullest, unconditional surrender. The unblocked wind of reality's perfection finally blows the flames of our suffering out. We return to our original state, indescribable in words, expressible perhaps only with soft eyes and a gently warming smile.

Using the graphic as a tool of recognition, we check in with ourselves. We check our minds and bodies and beings. If we notice difficulty or negativity, we recognize fixation on our preferences. If we recognize the onset of ease and positivity, we recognize our hearts opening, our wills surrendering. As peace and clarity set in, we recognize the realm of faith. As presence and relaxation set in, we recognize the realm of being. As difficulty or negativity return, we recognize our heart closing, our doubt setting in. In recognition, we don't cling to gladness at the heart's opening or to sadness at the heart's closing. We trust perfection's unpredictable unfolding and surrender.

Using the graphic as a tool for healing, we practice the art of opening the heart. Buddha said there are 84,000 ways of doing so. One gift in life is discovering the intricate patterns of how your unique heart opens. Don't condition your heart's opening on any accomplishment or set of circumstances in the world. Practice opening the heart unconditionally, and with a minimum of expectation. Buddhists describe the heart by its essential qualities: compassion, equanimity, loving kindness, and shared joy. Cultivating these qualities, through intention & practice, are one way of empowering the heart to open.

With continued practice in the true nature of mind, you can develop strong self-knowing awareness so that it naturally alchemizes negative emotions into their essence. When phenomena arise, they are self-liberated because your ego identity and conceptual mind have finally retired. Then the true nature of mind, which is wisdom, lets them resolve into inner space naturally.

In Dzogchen, this is called the “great ease,” in which even the concept of death is a joke, just another phenomenon that is ultimately empty. You have gone through a secret door of sorts: everything that was hidden from you by conceptual mind and ego fixation is revealed. You realize it has been completely accessible and present all the time as your basic nature.

True mind nature does not act, do anything, modify, or function as some subtle antidote to phenomena. It is simply open space and luminosity in union. If you throw colored chalk powder into the air, it has nothing to hold onto or cling to. It naturally falls to the ground. It is not like space does anything. It is simply how space is. The true nature of mind is like that.

Tsoknyi Rinpoche, per

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