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Michael John Smith

Contemplating The Three Principal Aspects Of The Path

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Tsongkhapa in his work The Three Principal Aspects of the Path says concerning the correct view of voidness, that even if habits of renunciation and a bodhichitta aim have been built up, the root of compulsive existence cannot be severed if the discriminating awareness of realising the abiding nature of reality is still lacking. He therefore goes on to tell us to make effort in the methods for realising dependent arising.


From my personal experience meditative practices aimed at realising the nature of mind, which I think is pristine awareness (or emptiness) from which appearances dependently arise, are insufficient unless the habit of renunciation has also been built up.


One could argue that without renouncing our obsession with mundane existence we could never actually come around to meditating on emptiness at all, but one could also argue that starting to meditate also brings about awareness for renunciation.


In my case I believe certain early feelings of compassion towards my fellow human beings (a certain birthright) brought about both a certain renunciation of the mundane and later a certain interest in methods for realising the wisdom mind. For others perhaps compassion comes as a consequence of renunciation and wishing that other beings could experience its liberating benefits and that for complete liberation the correct view on voidness was necessary.


In any case it appears Tsongkhapa’s three principal aspects of the path - renunciation, bodhichitta and voidness - are certainly interconnected, as are the practices provided in the six perfections, which Rinpoche has kindly advised me to work on so I can realise all three principal aspects of the path.


It appears we each of us have to find the way most suitable to ourselves to express the Dharma.

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renouncing our obsession with mundane existence we could never actually come around to meditating
It brings an association in my mind of one topic from long time ago, where there was a word about Clear Light and how generally a sentient being, when meets this Light, "jumps off", due to some fear. I hope i wrote it correctly...and regarding the fear, what it is about, what it is to be afraid of? My way of seeing it is, that when meet the Light, to accept it, one should renounce all what one build, conceptions, prejudices, all has to be left behind. All what this "I" perceives, does, thinks, is all what this "I" knows and all these has to be left behind.


Recently I watched movie http://thebraveone.warnerbros.com/ about a woman which had to deal with a fear. There are some very good statements and gives me a lot to think. She was happy woman, running her radio show, which was popular because of her philosphical thinking, she was recording voices of New York at night, wondering at bus and metro stations, a bit of creative approach, one could say. Until she and her fiance were attacked and brutally beaten up by one group of criminals when taking a dog for a walk. Her fiance didn`t survive the attack.

After that event her life completely changed and she met and got to know herself in a completely new, different light. Interesting is there pop up a new feeling, which accompanied the renunciation of what she was before, what she knew before about life, herself, how she knew, it was feeling of becoming a stranger to herself. As a consequence of this feeling, she experienced a great "emptiness" in herself, and started to fill it up, could not stopped herself, until...


Michael, thanks for sharing.


Bye & take care,


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Thank you Simona. I think what you have referred to is what Sazuki Roshi calls "a general house-cleaning of the mind", when we leave all the garbage behind. It is interesting that what you have said about a person's direct experience of emptiness comes to me just after I watched a video of Thich Nhat Hanh the Vietnese Buddhist monk who had a direct experience of war and fear and how he developed a movement called engaged Buddhism. It appears that his experience has left him with a very profound view of the dependent arising in emptiness and emptiness in dependent arising. He has coined the term to "interbe" to describe what he sees as man elements in nature and non-man elements in man - anyway a very, very interesting video - I recommend watching it:



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