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Padma Wisdom (Appreciation, Investigation)

From Tibetan Buddhist Encyclopedia
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Padma means lotus. The lotus is a beautiful flower that arises from the mud. Just as we are attracted to and appreciate the beauty of the lotus, Padma wisdom is about attraction and appreciation. This initial impulse resulting from attraction towards what we perceive in the outside world becomes the energy for the Wisdom associated with the Padma family.

The main ingredient is, first of all, a curiousity about what we perceive in front of us. When we carve out an area of reality to include in our self-definition as part of the Buddha Family energy, we then feel the sense of incompleteness that leads to looking outside of our "self" and moving towards an "outside world", which is the Karma Fanily energy. We then perceive various aspects of what we have not included in our self definition and we move towards aspects of the outside world that appear to be able to solve this sense of incompleteness. From this comes an appreciation and recognition of the potential of something valuable in the aspect of the outside world that we are focussing on.

This curiousity and recognition of potential value leads to attraction. We both move towards the object of our attraction and try to entice the object towards us. If we find the object of our attraction to be very valuable, or even just very attractive, this can lead to love of the object, person, or situation. If we take these feelings too far, they can end up in craving, obsession and longing. We can all become like stalkers and psychotics, consumed and blinded by our own desires.

If we don't grasp and cling to the feelings or the object of our focus, then the initial energy of curiousity, appreciation, and recognition of something valuable leads to a sense of joy and recognition of the beauty in the world. Connected with that Joy is the sense that the joy is both from us and from the outside object, person, or situation. This is the sense of unity and sense of belonging. It results from the recognition and the feeling that we are all part of one over-riding reality.

I have often said that we think that we are living in one world and reacting differently when we are really living in different worlds and reacting the same. We are all reacting to the worlds or realities that we perceive with the same feelings of happiness, sadness, satisfaction, dissatisfaction, understanding, and confusion. Our perceptions of our common world are each different. However, there are many things that we share within our perceptions that create similar experiences and allow us to connect and relate to each other. All of these realities are then enveloped in an over-riding reality that serves to contain them all and provide the seeds or potential for these individual realities to exist.

This is similar to atoms which make up molecules, which make up elements, which make up matter, which make up solids, liquids, and gases, which make up planets and stars, which make up galaxies and the universe. From the sentient being point of view, we have atoms that make up molecules that make up proteins that make up genes that make up cells that are living entities that combine together to make up living communities that when combined in various groups of functions are called human beings. These human beings then combine together to form families, then neighbourhoods, then cities, then countries, then civilizations.

We get a sense of Wholeness or holiness from this unity. It seems to me that, at one time, this was a spelling mistake that caught on, because, to me, holiness really has to do with our sense of wholeness. We get a confirmation of being and a sense of fulfillment from union with the objects, situations, or people that we are attracted to. This we experience as Joy. Most of the time, we believe that only certain people, situations, or objects can instill this sense of wholeness.

A great degree of ritual, prayer, and statues and images are the result of our trying to use external objects and activities to generate that feeling of wholeness. We do this to recognize the possibility of our feeling whole and we do these things to reinforce our connection with circumstances, objects, and people that strengthen this sense of unity and wholeness. In terms of perfecting Padma wisdom, our ultimate goal needs to be to be able to experience that sense of wholeness in ALL circumstances and with ALL objects, sentient beings, and people.

We also become like a newborn baby, exploring its own hands and toes. This is the level of curiousity that is possible for us to have with the world around us. By becoming too caught up in, and overwhelmed by, the Ratna energy of stability and feelings, and the Vajra energy of Form, organization, separateness and difference, we have minimized the importance of, forgotten about, or lost track of this energy of appreciation, unity, joy, and curiosity. We can also use Ratna or Vajra energy to avoid or run away from the sense of unity that arises from Padma energy.

With the sense of appreciation we notice all of the similarities and commonalities that exist in any person or situation. These similarities further reinforce the idea of unity. We also recognize our mutual sentience and we recognize that we are sharing in a joint aspect of our individual realities. We recognize that we have common forms, and feelings. We recognize that we share certain perceptions.

We notice our similarities in goals, values, and ambitions. We recognize that we share a certain level of awareness and a certain way of being. Recognizing common values, goals, difficulties, and experiences further reinforces our own existence, our sense of wholeness, and our own sense of being or aliveness. This also increases our joy.

With Padma Wisdom, we appreciate the qualities, kindnesses and benefits that others contribute to OUR reality and are therefore more compelled to work for their benefit and feel grateful for their existence and therefore Compassion and Loving Kindness automatically arises from this energy. When we recognize that others are an integral and inseparable part of our life, then we will be less inclined to resist the relationships that we are involved in. By recognizing that this energy is always a part of us and within our power to express as we wish, we will not feel overwhelmed by the strong feelings of Compassion and Unity that we experience with Padma energy.

We have an appreciation of everything that others do for us. We work on reciprocating this kindness and on maintaining positive relationships. We are motivated to do this in the hopes of maintaining the feelings of wholeness and unity. We also develop an attraction to the traits in others that we feel are valuable, inspiring, or desirable. We then feel the urge to be close to them to assimilate their traits, be a part of their world or share their reality, or follow their example.

From this attraction and appreciation, we develop love relationships. Ordinary love relationships have an aspect of attachment to them, but the value of these relationships comes from our ability to practice compassion within them. There are certain people (our spouse and children or close relatives) or other beings (pets for instance) that we find it easier to have a loving relationship with. This is often due to a high degree of commonality, and similar goals and values, and a stronger sense of completeness or fulfillment with these beings.

This type of relationship allows us to practice compassion in an easy setting in preparation for practicing compassion in more difficult circumstances. Therefore more intimate relationships have the value of a safe place to practice virtues and loving-kindness where our efforts will be more appreciated even if they aren't perfect.

It is very important to take advantage of these occassions to practice. It is important to practice compassion, virtue, generosity, morality, patience, perseverence, concentration, and understanding in these relationships with those who also love us and are more likely to be patient with our efforts.

It is also important to practice these virtues on ourself. We need to be compassionate with ourselves and our own lack of understanding. We need to be patient with our own failings and persevere in working with them. We need to be understanding of our own misbehaviour and generous in our forgiveness of ourselves as well as others. These are all aspects of appreciating the contributions that we and others contribute to our world and the recognition that we are all trying to obtain happiness and avoid suffering, but we don't always know how to do this.

We also become intrigued by the differences between our world and the world of others and between ourselves and those around us. The differences can incite us to look more closely in an attempt to understand those differences. We then attempt to resolve these perceptions into our own concept of wholeness and what we believe that wholeness means. If we aren't scared away or resistant to what we see, we can use this opportunity to discover how things and people can be so different and yet still part of the one over-riding reality.

It is within this recognition that all of these differences are part of our current reality, including the things that we feel are negative, that we see where things need to be done to create the world that we desire. If our goal is a world full of peace and joy, then wars, anger, greed, lack of understanding, fear, deceit, and the like, need to be eliminated. We begin to recognize that we just can't eliminate these things from our own lives, but must also work on eliminating them from the entire world.

Of course, the first place that we need to start is our own immediate world. There is an expression in Buddhism that says, if one wishes to have a smooth trip, one could try to cover the world with leather, but it is much easier to cover one's feet with leather instead. This usually is used to refer to trying to defeat our enemies, when, instead, it would be better to get rid of our anger. However it applies to all sorts of mind states. The best place to start in creating peace is to first create peace within our own minds and then within our immediate environment. The best place to work on contentment or compassion is within our immediate world and by continually expressing contentment, compassion, peace, and joy, it will spread like a virus to all of our surroundings. This is how we will get peace in this world.

When we focus on these impulses of attraction and appreciation as they occur, we can end up expressing Padma wisdom. The key is to express these impulses without grasping or attaching to the objects, beings, or situations that are part of the arising of this energy and by not grasping or clinging to the impulses themselves.

Our initial curiousity leads to investigation. This leads to learning and understanding about others or other situations, which leads to a greater sense of unity and interconnection, which leads to greater appreciation. This leads to more curiousity and the desire to delve further into the relationship to see how far the unity goes, which requires further investigation and so the cycle continues. Just like wood consumed by a Fire, it can continue until a sense of complete unity (and complete understanding) is achieved.

Part of Padma wisdom is to know what degree of "heat" or intensity to apply to a particular situation. Like a bar of soap, if we squeeze it too tightly it will shoot out of our grasp, and if we hold it too loosely, it will fall out of our hands. If we are too intense towards a situation or a person, we can scare it or them away. If we are not intense enough, then we will not succeed in attracting the person or circumstance towards us.

So there are two aspects to Padma Wisdom. The first is to look deeply into our present circumstances in each moment. The second is, every moment, to acknowledge and appreciate our unity with the whole world around us and all the beings within it. We start with the situation and beings directly in front of us, acknowledging our unity with them, before continuing with anything else, never losing sight of this unity while experiencing other aspects of our relationship.

We can use the energy of curiousity to investigate the cause and elimination of suffering. We can delve into the nature of our reality by investigating what's around us in the present moment. We can delve into the lives and develop understanding of the sentient beings around us in order to understand their current circumstances and what is required to bring each being to Buddhahood. We can ride the energy of curiousity to understand and treat skillfully each person, object or situation we encounter.

We can use the energy of attraction and our ability to attract people and situations towards us to bring together circumstances that support peace and joy, wisdom and compassion, or knowledge and skillfulness. We can also use this ability to attract people to the path of understanding, virtue, and freedom from suffering. We can end up using this Wisdom energy to reinforce our own and others sense of unity. We can use our abilities to attract others to us as a means to help them experience their own peace and joy.`