In general, there are two types of obscurations that block or obscure our realization and wisdom. These two are what prevents us from realizing complete liberation from the suffering and misery of cyclic existence.
- The Obscuration of Emotional Defilements
- The Obscuration of Knowledge
According to the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition, the obscuration of emotional defilements is easy to understand and experience directly. Using the emotional defilement of anger as an example, when anger and hatred arise in the mind, it obscures wisdom and positive qualities such as loving kindness. Emotional defilements range from gross to subtle. The feeling of agitation is a more subtle manifestation of anger. These obscurations arise because of grasping the ego, or identity and believing it truly exists. They obscure realization and are a cause for suffering. Additionally, they diminish the ability to completely receive blessings or the ripening of positive karma such as attaining a positive rebirth.
The obscuration of knowledge is the result of having pride or attachment to spiritual knowledge and power. This obscuration is more difficult to recognize and can become a strong block to realizing the true nature of the mind and ultimately for the attainment of enlightenment.
Without purifying these two obscurations even though we can receive blessings and have meditative experiences of wisdom and the true nature, these experiences are generally weak and do not become stable. By purifying the two obscurations, our mind gains a greater capacity for realization, wisdom and blessings. Buddha Tönpa Shenrap Miwoche has given the advice to engage in the two accumulations as a skillful method to purify and thereby remove the two obscurations.
There are two types of accumulations:
- The Accumulation of Merit
- The Accumulation of Wisdom
Ultimately, the purpose of accumulating merit and wisdom is to gain the capacity to fully realize the true nature of the mind and to attain complete enlightenment. Prior to this ultimate realization, engaging in the two accumulations removes obstacles and increases our wisdom and ability to completely receive and retain blessings. The accumulation of merit involves engaging in virtuous actions of body, speech, and mind such as reciting prayers and mantra, making prostrations, circumambulating sacred objects, and engaging in any kind of spiritual practice such as the ten perfections. These virtuous actions are further divided into two types: contaminated or impure virtuous actions and uncontaminated or pure virtuous actions. Contaminated virtuous action are such because they arise from a mind of duality that still grasps the identity of the self as inherently existing. These virtuous actions purify our emotional defilements and increase our positive qualities but do not have the same power as uncontaminated virtuous actions. Uncontaminated virtuous actions are actions performed from the true nature of the mind which is free from self-grasping and integrated with the realization of emptiness.
“Through virtuous actions both with characteristics and without characteristics, may I complete the two accumulations of merit and wisdom!”
— From An Ocean of Instructions Regarding the A Tri Teachings composed by Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen Rinpoche
The accumulation of wisdom is essentially the realization of emptiness and the true nature of the mind. We accumulate wisdom by becoming more and more familiar and stable with these experiences. This purifies the obscuration of knowledge and allows for the full realization of enlightenment.
A common activity that is used for the accumulation of merit and wisdom is the making of offerings to the four objects of refuge. By making offerings without attachment, pride or any other emotional defilement, we accumulate merit. By making offerings with the realization of the empty nature of the offering, the one making the offerings and the one receiving the offerings, we accumulate wisdom. The offering of light, water, flowers, incense and food is the practice of the five daily offerings. For more information about this practice in the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition, see previous article: https://ravencypresswood.com/2017/01/14/the-five-daily-offerings/
A primary focus for a spiritual practitioner which naturally accumulate both merit and wisdom is the continual engagement with the ten perfections. It is said that sincerely and continually practicing these ten perfections is the best way to prepare for the process of dying and death, and to create the circumstances for a positive rebirth. For more information about the ten perfections, see previous article: https://ravencypresswood.com/2015/10/23/the-ten-perfections-of-the-yungdrung-bon/
All translations and content by Raven Cypress Wood ©All Rights Reserved. No content, in part or in whole, is allowed to be used without direct permission from the author.
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