All Projections Are Sticky

The Buddha’s teaching is about our own knowingness, awareness, consciousness in its pure state (although, in truth, this cannot be called a ‘state’ as it is the empty receptivity of pure intelligence). When we hear such teachings, they feel familiar and true, and it’s a shock that we never noticed such clarity before.

A teacher, guru, lama instructs and guides us to this realisation. In doing so, the teacher, guru, lama is actually more important than the Buddha, because we have a first direct contact of translations, commentaries and explanations. The teacher, guru, lama is therefore very important.

Although we need respect, appreciation, reverence – and even adoration – for these teachings, our behaviour towards the teacher can become sticky, forming a sticky queue of sticky hope and fears, of gushing and over-enthusing, in the hope that the teacher will recognise us.

In Tibetan Buddhism, there is thus much bowing and prostrating to the teacher, throne, shrine ā€¦ basically, to anything that has brocade on it šŸ˜€ ā€¦ as an outward show of devotion. Such behaviour is supposed to act as an antidote to pride, but its performance now encourages pride. The middle classes tend to identify with their ‘betters’, and this is especially applicable when the teacher comes from another culture: you don’t get westerners prostrating to westerners, do you? A teacher from another culture may assume such stickiness is normal, and therefore doesn’t understand or acknowledge the sentimentality behind it.

This can cause us to doubt our own intelligence and, as a result, we come to rely on the teacher for everything. Such behaviour is not liberation.

All appearances are projections in the mind, which we then interpret. When we identify with these projections, they appear real, and feelings and emotions arise – and we suffer at a conventional level. It’s as if we are watching a film and reacting with tears of joy or horror.

When we do not identify with projections that arise in the mind but rather, see them as mere projections within our empty nature, they then become the method for the realisation of the empty nature of all phenomena: that is our pure intelligence. On a practical level, we may be surprised to find that we have actually let go, allowing situations to unfold without interference.

All emotion ensnares us: bardo practice is all about transcending appearances. Regardless of whether appearances are attractive or unpleasant, we remain balanced, avoiding extremes while not falling into indifference.

In other words, we are not stuck in the stickiness of any emotion.

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