|The following article is from the Autumn, 2011 issue of the Snow Lion Newsletter and is for historical reference only. You can see this in context of the original newsletter here.|
THEY SAY THAT THE INITIAL realization of the nature of the mind is the first breakthrough. It's a very important point in all Buddhist schools. At that moment, you cease to be an ordinary person. You become in Buddhist parlance an arya, a noble one. It doesn't mean you are finished. It doesn't mean you are a high level bodhisattva. We can fall back from this. But still, this is a big breakthrough. We now understand what is true and what is not true. We don't have to take it all on faith any more. It is a direct non-dual experience. The point is that it is very easy. It's not difficult, and it's not something that can only be attained after years and years of practice.
Our main obstacle is the fact that we don't know how to relax our minds enough to be open to this experience. In the back of our minds we keep thinking this is something so difficult and so advanced. For this reason we don't recognize what is in front of our face. This is why a teacher can be extraordinarily helpful. A teacher living within that realization is ableif the mind of the disciple is completely opento transmit his or her experience. The problem here is that we have too many hopes and fears; it creates a barrier. It is very hard to be open. You can't just will it.
from Reflections on a Mountain Lake: Teachings on Practical Buddhism, by Ani Tenzin Palmo