The poetic mystery of Vajrayana lies in the fact that every aspect of method enables us to contact the essence of the teachings. Through fully comprehending The Four Thoughts, we can embark on the practice of Dharma. We can become Dharma warriors – confident practitioners with open view. We can become people who live each moment as if it were their first and their last moment. We can become heroes of spacious passion and heroines of passionate space.
The Four Thoughts teach us everything we need to know to be authentic practitioners. We can embrace the gentleness, kindness, and immaculacy of the warrior. We can embrace the dynamic energy, fierceness, and directness of the warrior. We can realise the potential of non-dual view on a moment-by-moment basis. This is called ‘living the view’, and through this we can find the presence of awareness in the dimension of the unfolding of our lives.
We can follow The Noble Eightfold Path. We can follow The Noble Eightfold Path whether we are washing the dishes; performing life-saving surgery; tapping away on a keyboard; or changing the baby’s nappy1. We are Dharma warriors with the ability to be present – and this ability will increase if we hold the qualities of a warrior in our hearts.
If we are kind and warm, we will tend to expect others to be kind and warm. We will approach others with an optimistic attitude. If met with aggression we are less likely to respond with aggression, because this is not the stance from which we began. Greeting people in a kindly way offers them the opportunity to respond in a kindly way. If they do not, this does not need to unseat our kindness. We can simply remain kind. If aggression does upset our kindness so that we respond defensively, then we were ‘wearing’ kindness as an artificial definition, rather than as the nature of our being in the present moment. If the wearing of kindness is a good-hearted attempt to become a compassionate person developing awareness, then we can simply acknowledge that we lost it that time, let it go, and re-dress ourselves in kindness. If we do this often enough over a long period of time, eventually our ‘cloak’ of kindness becomes the quintessence of our being.
Religion is a response to the primordial unlearned recognition of our innate potential as human beings. To be a practitioner is to live a life based in authentic religious tenets. To live one’s life based on these tenets makes one a spiritual practitioner – even if one has no formal contact with organised religion.
If one bases one’s life on the tenets of openness and kindness—both as view and activation—then one is likely to find the methods of Dharma especially relevant and attractive.
However, choosing to develop kindness and openness does not necessarily mean that I am a Buddhist. All the major religions contain the practice of kindness and the development of wisdom as central tenets. This is not coincidental. Essentially we know the power of discovering non-duality. When our insight spontaneously prompts us to act with kindness—when our desire to be kind spontaneously manifests as unrestricted awareness of what is needed—we recognise the electric pleasure of sparkling moments which reflect non-duality.
When such moments of openness and kindness manifest spontaneously, we engage with our environment as honest, honourable, genuine people who naturally care about others. We naturally elect to be glad for the happiness of others and to be concerned for their unhappiness. We naturally demonstrate our capacity to manifest kindness and awareness. We are Dharma warriors.
Warriorship here does not refer to making war on others. Aggression is the source of our problems, not the solution. Here the word ‘warrior’ is taken from the Tibetan word ‘pawo2’, which literally means ‘one who is brave.’ The female word is ‘pamo3’.
Warriorship in this context is the tradition of human bravery, or the tradition of fearlessness.
1. Diaper in the USA
2. Pawo (dPa’ bo) (Tibetan): daka or vira (Sanskrit).
3. Pamo (dPa’ mo) (Tibetan). In Tibetan Buddhism the terms khandro or khandroma (mKha’ ’gro or mKha’ ’gro ma) (Tibetan) are frequently encountered in relation to women – this is the wisdom quality of women. The method quality is pamo. Khandro refers to the elements manifesting as female sky-dancing figures, surrounding either an awareness image (yidam) or an historical religious figure. They are designated as female because the central figure is usually male. Khandro is actually the contracted form of two words: ‘khandroma’ and ‘khandropa’. The enlightened woman can manifest as either khandroma or pamo, and the enlightened man can manifest as either pawo or khandropa. The pawo is the male warrior and the pamo is the female warrior. The term khandro or dakini (Sanskrit) is used to express phenomena manifesting symbolically as the female and male aspects of the five elements.