"Merely by keeping this same tantra with them,
without meditating, they will fall into a state of meditative stability;
without studying, they will understand teachings;
without being taught, they will be familiar with spiritual instruction;
without receiving explanations, they will naturally understand the tantras;
and without practicing the stage of development,
they will behold deities directly."
--The Conjunction of Sun and Moon
Before Ava Lavinia Gardner (1922 - 1990) was Ava Gardner, she was Ava Gardner. Ava Gardner did not have to practice being Ava Gardner. To the contrary, all she had to do was be herself. Since she managed to naturally, effortlessly, and spontaneously be herself, she was that indivisible essence of being referenced by the generally agreed-upon name Ava Gardner.
Whatever qualities, characteristics, legends, or descriptions we wish to ascribe to the being referenced by this name, such qualities, characteristics, legends, or descriptions neither define nor delimit Ava Gardner.
If, for example, you say Ava Gardner was a remarkably beautiful woman, employed as a motion picture actress for the whole of her adult life, who liked to smoke, drink, and roll around on the sheets, you will have missed entirely the equality and purity of Ava Gardner as a natural manifestation of timeless awareness.
If you attempt to apprehend Ava Gardner by comparing her to all those women who are not referenced by the name Ava Gardner -- saying, "This is Ava Gardner," and "This is not Ava Gardner" -- you will be unable to experience the spontaneous presence of Ava Gardner as neither divisible nor indivisible purity.
Similarly, if you say that Ava Gardner engaged in effort in order to become Ava Gardner, i.e. that Ava Gardner was in some fashion the result of such effort -- such effort being viewed in this instance as the "cause" of Ava Gardner -- then the always-abiding Ava Gardner, effortlessly present, will be lost to you.
If you make an offering of your understanding of Ava Gardner to Ava Gardner, then in just this sense haven't you separated yourself from Ava Gardner? More to the point, haven't you divorced yourself from your own unified, essential being-as-inseparable from the basic ground that neither contains nor omits Ava Gardner or you?
If you selectively mine characteristics you have fictitiously attributed to Ava Gardner, and then use them as a basis of imputation, saying, "Oh, she drinks like Ava Gardner drank," or "She dances like Ava Gardner danced," or "I wish I had Ava Gardner's lips," or "I wish I could have kissed Ava Gardner's lips," then you have imprisoned Ava Gardner in a referential state that directly opposes her actual, empty, non-referential state.
In the West, it seems there is a problem distinguishing between the practice of Buddhism as a graded, inquisitional exercise in dialectics, and the pass-fail, snake-in-bamboo practice of Vajrayana. Since Tibetan teachers have been coming to the West for the past four decades, and the problem still persists, I thought I would forget the whole thing and watch television instead.
There was an old Ava Gardner movie playing, and I watched that for a while.
Some people keep birds in cages. In South-East Asia, you can buy them at temples and set them free. I did that once myself, in Bangkok, only to watch them wheel around in the sky for a few minutes, and come back to the bird sellers, there to be sold again. Actually, the birds and the bird sellers are bodhisattvas, who manifest in this fashion in order to provide the opportunity to create merit. So, this is fictitious merit, accrued in a fictitious circumstance, dedicated to fictitious beings, and subject to being exhausted.
Remind you of anything?