from Rebel Buddha, Chapter 8, “Beyond Self” (pp. 95-96)
When we speak of training, we are talking about training rebel buddha, who is with us until buddha appears alone. We are in the process of awakening until we are awake, then there is no more process, no more journey. We are where we want to be. Our focus up until now has been on accumulating knowledge, developing our insight, and applying that to our life. This is how we have been training our mind, strengthening its power to free us. However, rebel buddha is not all mind and clear thinking. Rebel buddha has a very large heart with desires and passions of its own: a desire for personal freedom and a passion for the freedom and happiness of others. That heart needs training too. When those passions and insights come together, we look at the world with a single vision. There are opportunities everywhere to accomplish both; in fact, those opportunities are the same ones. There is no longer any reason to think of “my spiritual path” and “my ordinary life” as different or separate. They become one path, one way of life.
The training we go through now is primarily training in reducing our selfishness—the opposite of selflessness. So we work with methods to let go of our attachment to thinking only of ourselves and our own benefit. It’s like we have been only children for a long time, but now we have many siblings and relatives of all kinds and must learn how to share our toys. The reason we have not been able to share—to feel equal concern for the happiness and freedom of others—is because of our fixation on ourselves. We have been focused on “me” for so long that it is not easy to give up this orientation. It’s no piece of cake. However, our previous training has sharpened our eyesight so we can see the possibility of letting go of our self-obsession.
Now, our current training makes it even sharper. We begin to see selflessness wherever we look—not only in our own minds, but also in the minds of others and in the world itself. All thought, all emotion, all concepts, have the same quality of openness. None of it is solid. Instead of a world fixed by thought, pinned down by our notions of this and that, we see a world at play, changing moment by moment. This way of seeing, called “twofold selflessness,” brings a panoramic view of ultimate reality. The perception of selflessness that applies only to this “I” is like looking at the ocean from a nice beach house window. You see the ocean, but just a part of it. It may be from a distance or at an angle. Real estate agents and hotel managers call this a “partial ocean view.” In contrast, the experience of twofold emptiness is like standing on a cliff at Big Sur with nothing in any direction to obstruct or limit your view. You see the full sweep of ocean, sky, landscape, stretching out before you. That’s the difference between the view of individual selflessness and twofold selflessness; one is partial and one is complete.