by Zasep Tulku Rinpoche
First I would like to lead meditation on bodhicitta. And this moment I would like to ask you to visualize white light, like a full moon. Beautiful white light like a full moon. You visualize that on your chest. And think, "This white light is my mind. This white light is loving-kindness. This white light is my mind of loving-kindness, my mind of love, my mind of compassion." So you visualize this beautiful white light, like a complete circle, like a moon. Then light shining, white light shining from here, radiating, shining, radiating. Light shining, radiating to ten directions: to the east, to the west. Light going to the south, to the north. And to the four cardinal directions, and to up, and to down. Light goes to all over, and goes first light goes to this earth, to everywhere on this earth. Then beyond the earth.
So this light reaches, it reach six realms. And this light reach all sentient beings, the light of love. I send my love and compassion, my pure thought, my pure wish, sincere thought. My wish: "May all beings have happiness. May all beings have cause of happiness. May all beings have no suffering. May all beings have no cause of suffering. May all beings have peace and bliss. Enlightened mind - the mind of Buddha." So I send this light - every, all sentient beings touched by this light. This light reach all beings, and all beings experience the mind of loving-kindness. [Meditate.]
The subject of the talk to night is meditation on, meditation on bodhicitta, precious bodhicitta. So the subject of talk is meditation on bodhicitta, and this meditation is the essence of the path, and essence of the practice of the final scope, the final scope of Lam Rim, the Great Scope of the Lam Rim.
First I would like to say a little bit about the definition of bodhicitta. The Tibetan word for bodhicitta is Jang chub chi sem. Jang chub means body, and jang chub or body means enlightened, enlightenment - enlightenment or Buddhahood. Jang, Tibetan word jang and chub, two different words, two words. Jang means accomplished all the necessary training. Jang, or sometimes we call it chang means one who accomplished all the necessary trainings, all the practice. One who accomplished all the practice or meditation. So this is referring to Buddha. And jang chub - chub means the person who achieved all the necessary realizations, and all the important realizations. All complete realizations of enlightenment - jang chub.
Chi sem - sem means mind. Mind that is gone through all the training, meditation training and accomplished. And no more training is necessary now, no more meditation is necessary. Jang. Chub means "because he or she, or the Buddha, achieved all the realizations, highest realizations and perfections." Chub. Jang chub or bodhi.
So there's another, also, meaning: Jang chub means the mind of the enlightened being, the mind of the Buddha, is jang means so refined, so pure. And the most, the most selfless mind. No more self-cherishing, no more self-centered mind whatsoever. And chub means one who accomplished all love and compassion. Complete love, complete compassion. And one who has love and compassion towards all beings, every sentient beings. No one is excluded. Every sentient being. Always, forever and forever. Ever and ever. Like, we have love and compassion, but we don't have love and compassion all the time, because all of a sudden we become angry. All of a sudden selfish mind arises. And sometimes we have love and compassion to certain people, and we don't have for certain people. It's a partial love, partial compassion.
But Buddha is different. Buddha's love and compassion is for everyone, all sentient beings. Totally beyond self-centered mind. Altruistic mind. And the Buddha become enlightened being because "for the sake of all sentient beings." Buddha practiced six perfections because "for the sake of all sentient beings." Buddha remained as a Buddha forever and ever because "for the sake of all sentient beings." And Buddha comes back to the world, again and again and again, until the end of samsara, until end of suffering, because "for the sake of all sentient beings." And Buddha has inexhaustible compassion and love, never-ending love, never-ending compassion. Never give up no matter how difficult it is, no matter how many cruel people you see, you meet, you run into. And Buddha never give up, always have love and compassion towards everyone.
So this kind of mind, this kind of realization, is called bodhicitta or jang chub chi sem. We call jang chub chi sem rinpoche because rinpoche means the precious one. Rinpoche. So this mind is the precious mind. This is the most precious one. This mind is more precious than anything else. This mind is the holy mind. This mind is pure mind. This mind is that we should take refuge. This mind we should put on - place on altar. We should bow down, we should do prostrations. We should make offerings. We should rejoice. We should keep it, save it, protect this mind, for the benefit of all sentient beings. This is so precious, we call it jang chub chi sem rinpoche. So this is the essence of the Mahayana path.
So I would like to say that all the Buddhas of the three times - Buddhas of the past and present, future - encourage people to practice bodhicitta, to cultivate bodhicitta right from the beginning. And right from the beginning they encourage people to become Mahayanists, or practice bodhicitta. And Buddhas also encourage people not to become what we called Hinayanists or Shravakayanists or Pratchekayanists. Because Shravaka or Pratchekayanist or Hinayanist means - people who become Hinayanist means the people who practice Dharma and meditation for their own sake, their own liberation, their own freedom and peace and escape - escaping from samsara. So the Buddha said, "Do not enter into the Hinayana path, Shravaka path, Pratcheka path unless you have to and if you don't have the karma to enter into Mahayana path. If you don't have the karma, or mental disposition to cultivate bodhicitta, then you have no choice, or you're not ready, so might as well practice Hinayana path. That's why Buddha also taught Hinayana path. But ideally everyone should enter into Mahayana path.
And one of the great Kadampa lama called Geshe Potawa, Geshe Potawa said, "When you're travelling through the mountains, through the valleys, you have to cross river. And you should think carefully, and instead of crossing the river twice, you should make sure that you don't have to cross twice. Is there any way you can cross the river once? Because sometimes we don't know the way, right? So the river goes around like this, and curves, and so we get lost. Sometimes we cross this river. Then you go up the other side of the river, then you can't go up. There's nowhere to go. Nowhere to go because there's a land-block, there's a canyon or there's cliff. Then you have to go around and cross the river, same river again, and back. And then you go up, walk along the river, and then cross the river again, in order to get to the other side of the mountain.
But if you know the road, and kind of easy way, or not the easy way, but right way, the right path, right trail, then you may not have to cross the river twice. Why not find out the right path, so that you only have to cross river once?
So this is example. Instead of going into the Hinayana path, do so much training, hard work, meditate, meditate, meditate, practice, practice. So much purification, and going through this path. Then you finally reach nirvana, and then at some point you realize this is not the final goal. You don't even want to stay there forever, because you don't feel it is right to be self-content and rejoice yourself. Saying, "Oh, I'm happy now. I'm free from samsara." And you know that is not right. So then you have to cross river again. You come back to Mahayana path. Then you practice again, training, training, training. So this is why the Geshe Potawa said you should enter, enter Mahayana path.
So therefore the real path, actual path, direct path to enlightenment, Buddhahood, is the Mahayana path. During earlier when we studied Medium Scope Lam Rim, the Lam Rim teaching when we studied Medium Scope, during that time the Medium Scope emphasis on renunciation. And renunciation and emphasis on liberation or liberating oneself from cyclic existence. And liberate oneself. So that is because for the sake of accomplish the realization of renunciation. But once you accomplish the realization of renunciation, you have a strong renunciation, you accomplish strong renunciation, realization of renunciation. You accomplish a strong dedication, profound dedication and commitment to the Dharma path, then you must enter to the Mahayana path.
So here I would like to say the benefit of cultivating bodhicitta. Cultivating bodhicitta, cultivating bodhicitta, cultivating the realization of the bodhicitta is the door, or gate, or entering into the Mahayana path. Without cultivation of bodhicitta it is not possible to enter into the Mahayana path. One of the famous Buddhist texts called Ratna mala [??] Tibetan word Ratna mala it says, "If you or others, if you or others wish to become Buddha, if you or others wish to become fully enlightened one for the sake of all sentient beings, then you must cultivate bodhicitta. This is the gate. This is the door."
And not only that, the cultivation of the bodhicitta is also foundation of Vajrayana - Vajrayana teaching, Vajrayana path. And if you have, if you cultivated bodhicitta, if you cultivated bodhicitta - if you took Bodhisattva vow, and generate and cultivate bodhicitta - then after that, if you practice Tantra - Tantrayana, Mantrayana, and visualization or deity yoga - that practice becomes very beneficial, very powerful. And without the cultivation, or without having realization of the bodhicitta, when you practice Tantra visualizing yourself as the deity or divine mandala or mansion, it does not have lot of meaning. Then otherwise it's like, when you're visualizing the deity, yourself as the deity, and mandala deities, it becomes like, it is something like walking around in a museum. You walk in a big museum, you see so many beautiful statues, thankas and paintings, sculptures, artifacts, like Egyptian mummies - so many things, so beautiful. It is beautiful. It is very enjoyable. And you can be truly inspired. And you learn so much.
But, you know, let's say you have a good samadhi, you have a good concentration, and you've done lots of developing concentration, and let's say you can visualize very well the deity, yourself as the deity and the mandala and so forth. But if you don't have the bodhicitta then it's like walking around in the museum. You can enjoy it, you can admire, but what does that practice really do for you in terms of developing spiritual realizations? In other words, how does that benefit you, and how does that benefit all sentient beings? How does that actually purify your mind, mind of self-centered, self-centered mind, or ego, basically ego and attachment and so forth.
See, if you don't have a realization of bodhicitta or renunciation, and shunyata of course, then sometimes visualization of deity and mandala and so forth, may become, it may boost ego. So this is the danger. This is a danger. This is also question. This is a concern. It is genuine concern, some people feel. I'm sitting here, I can say mantras so fast. I can do 100,000 mantras in two weeks, ten days. And I can visualize very well. Because some people have natural talent. They can visualize very well. They have very sharp mind, and they can focus their mind. So they can be very good. But if you still have self-centered mind, ego, then you feel, "I am great. I am great practitioner. I am very good at visualizing. So I'm the best. I'm better." And then it might boost the ego.
This kind of problem will not happen, this kind of problem will not happen. No need to concern, no need to worry if one, as long as if one cultivated bodhicitta, cultivated bodhicitta right from the beginning. And cultivated good motivation. That's why, also, that's why according to tantra it says we should always practice the foundation, see. And the foundation is very important. And that's why every time when we do tantric practice or sadhanas, right from the beginning we take refuge to the Three Jewels. After that we cultivate bodhicitta. And we also cultivate mind of shunyata. And we cultivate this mind of bodhicitta: "I do practice, I would like to practice tantra and mantra for the sake of all sentient beings."
So if you cultivated that mind properly then there is no need to concern about the tantric practice become cause of ego, a boost of ego. There's a story in the Lam Rim text says that there was a great lama called Puchop Lom Chompa [??] and he was a very famous Gelugpa lama. So whenever he gave tantric initiations, high initiations, and whenever he gave tantric teachings, before, at the beginning of the initiations, and every time when he gave the initiations, at the beginning of the initiations, every time when he gave the commentary, at the beginning of the commentary he always explained about the development of bodhicitta, cultivation of the bodhicitta. So long, he explained so long. And he spent much more, far more time explaining the bodhicitta and three principle path, so long. And sometimes people, it says, sometimes people start wondering, "Maybe he doesn't know how to teach tantra and those advanced path teachings, you know, like esoteric teachings. So he's trying to spend so much time on Lam Rim." And people start kind of wondering, you know, why. "Why he talk so much about same Lam Rim, same things, same subject, bodhicitta? Over and over, over and over, again and again." That's because it is so important. We say the bodhicitta is really the juice, like the juice of the tantra. And when we eat fruit, the juice, the juice is the essence of the fruit.
It says, "Teaching that the only way to enter the Mahayana is to develop bodhicitta." And this is the beauty, this is the benefit of the bodhicitta practice. Then you can gain the name, you can gain the name "Child of the Buddha." Or in other words, you can say you can gain the name "Son or Daughter of the Bodhicitta." And when you cultivate bodhicitta, you become actually the son or daughter of the Buddha. It says, Shantideva said, I would like to read the translation, Shantideva said in the Deeds of the Bodhisattva, Bodhisattvacharyavatara, "From the moment [??] beings trapped in samsara's prison develop bodhicitta they are given the name Child of the Tathagatas."
From the moment you develop bodhicitta, you meditate on bodhicitta genuinely, you cultivate bodhicitta, then even you are still in samsara, still you are trapped in samsara, you still are not totally free from samsaric conditions - death, birth, and sickness and so forth - but when you develop bodhicitta, you are given the name of, name The Child of the Tathagata, or The Child of the Buddha, Son of the Buddha or Daughter of the Buddha. "Today, today I have been born into the Buddha's race. I have become a child of the Buddhas." So this means, when you cultivate bodhicitta, formally, when you take Bodhisattva Vow, and when you keep the Bodhisattva Vow, cultivate it, then you actually become the child of the Buddha. So what does that mean, become child of the Buddha? And this actually means you become closer to Buddha, yourself, to become close to the Buddha. And, in other words, closer to become enlightened, first time. It's like the new moon, the very first new moon, like a new moon. Then, you know, this new moon, tiny, tiny, thin crescent moon, new moon, it's going to become full, it is going to become complete moon. It's going to become full moon after fourteen days, it is going to become full moon. See, when you see the new moon, we call Shila [??] moon, crescent moon, then after fourteen days it's going to become full moon. Likewise, when you cultivated the bodhicitta, taking the Bodhisattva Vow, and this is the first, it is like the new moon. And then soon, you will become Buddha.
So you become the Son or Daughter of the Buddha. "You outshine the Shravakas and Pratchekas." You outshine. So naturally you outshine those Hinayanists, the mind of Hinayanists, and mind of the Shravakas, mind of the Pratchekas. And also you become the supreme object of offering. Now of course the person who cultivated bodhicitta and who took Bodhisattva Vow, that person does not wish to become the object of offering. Right? You don't care if people make offering to you or not. The point here is that because you have this precious mind, you have this pure love and compassion towards all beings, therefore this pure love and compassion is shining. People can feel. And naturally people accept, and they accept you as a object of offering. It says you become the object of offerings by man, by humans, and by gods, and even by demigods. Because the bodhicitta is the cause of the Buddha. It is the most important cause of enlightenment and Buddhahood.
"You amass the numerous accumulations of the merit with ease." Because of the power of the bodhicitta, the power of that realization, and then naturally you accomplish all kinds of merit, all kinds of realizations. Because of the power of bodhicitta, accumulation of merit happens naturally. And the same time purifications are happening. It says when you cultivate bodhicitta, if you took the Bodhisattva Vow, if you cultivate bodhicitta, in other words you meditate on the bodhicitta, and it doesn't matter what you do - while you're eating, or sleeping, or walking, or standing, or talking, or whatever you're doing you are naturally accumulating merit, virtues. Now this means that naturally, whatever you're doing, you're creating good energy. For others. I'm not talking about for you, I'm not talking about for your own sake. Because if you are, as I said, if you are Bodhisattva or you're cultivating bodhicitta, you don't do it for yourself. So the point here is that you don't create negative energy. You don't cause problems for other people. You don't harm others. So instead of harming, you're creating this wholesome energy through your body, speech and mind, through your body language, through your speech, through your eye contact. And whatever you do, you're creating wholesome energy, good energy, good vibration - for human beings, for animals, for insects, for the trees, for the rocks, for the earth, for the water, for the sky, for the wind, for the fire, for everything. Towards everything, towards all living things you're creating this wholesome energy. And even while you're sleeping you're creating good energy.
And because of that, naturally, on the other side of the coin, the other side, you are purifying unwholesome actions, unwholesome karma, unwholesome energy. And also, at the very same time, all the obstacles of the Dharma path, all the obstacles of meditation, and all the hindrances will be purified. See, because you are cultivating selfless mind, bodhicitta. So hindrances of Dharma practice will be overcome, purified. Most of the time, when we run into problems with the Dharma, when we run into the problems of the Dharma practice, or when we run into the obstacles of Dharma practice, what happens is that because of self-centered mind, ego, our selfish mind, self-centered mind not allowing us to practice Dharma continuously. And also our delusions - attachment, ignorance, largely ignorance, and delusions, and fear, and confusions - all those things becomes obstacles for our Dharma practice, Dharma practice for myself and for all sentient beings. And so these obstacles will diminish by the power of bodhicitta.
And also it says whenever you practice Dharma, Dharmic activities, whenever you are cultivating Dharma or Dharma activities, whether it is for oneself or others, whatever practice you do, let's say practice of generosity or ethics or patience or perseverance and samadhi and shunyata and giving protection, working for the welfare and wellbeing and happiness of others. If your motivation is pure, it's not, no self-concern, no self-interest, when there's no self-interest then that practice will remain. The result of that practice, the power of that practice will remain with us all the way until we become Buddha.
In other words many of us, we practice Dharma very hard. We practice generosity, patience and perseverance. But there's always somewhere there's a self-interest, self-centered mind. We mixed up our practice, lot of times mixed up with self-centered mind, or ego-grasping, or self-interest, in other words. It's not pure generosity, it's not pure giving, not pure patience. It is not pure perseverance. Although it appears generosity, patience and perseverance. And we wish to practice pure generosity, pure patience, pure perseverance. We would like to help others without a reward, without expectations. But we are not able to do, we are unable to do perfect Bodhisattva conduct. Because we still have self-cherishing, self-interest. Deep in our hearts there's always self-interest. Why? Because we are born like this. It is our conditioning, cultural conditioning, samsaric conditioning. Samsaric mind, conditioned by the samsaric mind. Me, me, me. Me is first, others second. Instead of others first, me later, later. So there's always self-interest.
So now if you can cultivate pure motivation, pure generosity, pure patience, then that power of that bodhicitta will stay with us. It will benefit so much. It says in the, actually Shantideva's text of the Bodhisattva's Deeds says, "Other virtues is like the planted tree, for it is there once fruited. Bodhicitta is living tree that continues to fruit and grow." It's like some tree, they produce fruit once, once every maybe three years or five years. Some trees like that. Some trees they produce fruit every year, all the time, very hardy wood. Doesn't matter how hot it gets, cold it gets, and always producing fruit. So the bodhicitta is like this. Once you accomplish bodhicitta, and there is the fruit of the virtues always spontaneously or naturally, automatically producing. And it will benefit so many sentient beings.
And it says if you have this bodhicitta, realization of bodhicitta, and let's say you give handful of food to animals, and one or two grain of sunflower seeds you give it to chipmunks, a chipmunk. And that benefit, that merit will stay. It never diminished. It cannot destroy by self-centered mind, cannot destroy by ego or miserliness or attachment. And even smallest Dharmic action, like offering one incense, offering one candle to the altar, or you say one mantra, OM MANI PADME HUM once, or you give a handful of food to animals, even the smallest, that the merit, the benefit will stay with us for a long, long, long time, until we become Buddha. And not only that, the benefit, the good energy and the benefit will grow, constantly growing, multiply, double, triple, always keep multiplying.
Also benefit of the cultivation of the bodhicitta, it says you accomplish whatever you wish. So this means you can accomplish whatever Dharma, Dharmic realization or spiritual realization, whatever you wish you can accomplish by the power of the bodhicitta. Because there will be no obstacles, no hindrances. And once you have bodhicitta realization, you can accomplish the highest tantric realizations, whatever levels of tantra. And then one can accomplish the power of realization, power of tantra.
Let's say if you have a bodhicitta realization, let's say then you say mantra of Medicine Buddha, healing mantra and if say the healing mantra, Medicine Buddha mantra: OM BEKANDZE BEKANDZE MAHA BEKANDZE BEKANDZE RANDZA SAMUNGATE SOHA, you say that mantra and blow [Rinpoche blows] in the water. You give that water to sick animal or sick person. He or she drink this water, or wash that person's body, it is so powerful it will purify, it will heal. And hundred times more effective than saying mantra of Medicine Buddha without bodhicitta, without this mind of bodhicitta. Or you say the Medicine Buddha mantra and you blow [Rinpoche blows] on the food, on vegetable or fruit or vitamins, and you eat or you give it to somebody else, and that has so much nutrition, so much power, and very powerful. So whatever you wish, you can accomplish the realizations.
And also it says you are not bothered by harm and hindrances. And if you have realization of the bodhicitta, you don't have to worry about someone might harm you. And like it says because you will be protected by, like the powerful gods, like Brahma and Indra and so forth. Like Dharma Protectors, such as Mahakala and Kalidevi and so forth. There will be no harm. There will be no harm, there will be no evil things can happen to you. There will be no obstacles. There are powerful Dharma Protectors called Kurweras [??] and the Four Great Kings, and devas and devis. They will protect you.
And there was a story, one famous Kadampa, great Kadampa lama called Geshe Kalumpa. Geshe Kalumpa was meditating in a cave. And so one time this spirit, ghost, had thought. A thought entered to him, and this spirit was very jealous, because Geshe Kalumpa was wonderful geshe and he had disciples, he had followers. So these followers go up to his cave and worshiped and did the prostrations and delivered food, made offerings. And this spirit, ghost, was hungry and he was jealous, and he thought, "How come I don't get any food? Nobody cares. Nobody even paying attention to me. And this monk sitting in the cave, he gets all kinds of offerings, and people love him so much. And this is unfair!" And he was very jealous. So then this spirit decided to harm the geshe and went up to the cave. He thought he would do some harm, like a spell or a curse. Do something, make him sick, make him give up his Dharma practice. And so he went up. He went up and he saw that Geshe Kalumpa was meditating, and he was chanting certain kind of sutra, and he was reciting the mantra. And always he was saying, "May all sentient beings be happy. May all sentient beings be free from suffering and cause of suffering. I would like to practice Dharma for the sake of all sentient beings, for the sentient beings of the six realms. I wish animals, hungry ghosts, human beings, gods and demigods, all sentient beings become Buddha right in this moment." So he said, he chanted. And then all of a sudden this ghost thought, "I cannot harm him. I should not, I can't harm him. Because he's praying, actually he's praying for me! He's praying for all sentient beings. And how could I harm him, because he's praying for me. He's helping me, and he's helping all sentient beings. That's why people love him so much." So he was smart ghost, and he must have some karmic connection. He may have had some Dharma, some understanding of Dharma in a past life. Somehow his karma made him become ghost. And so that moment he changed his mind. And also that ghost benefited from, right away benefited from the prayer and the power of the bodhicitta of this great geshe, Geshe Kalumpa.
So also the bodhicitta is one of the two main important causes of enlightenment. There are two important causes, called the wisdom and method. So the bodhicitta is called the method, wisdom is the realization of shunyata. These two are like the wings, two wings of the bird. And it is not possible to become Buddha without these two wings, without the bodhicitta. And the bodhicitta is the source of all spiritual realizations, and the source of all enlightenment, source of all the enlightened qualities. So the bodhicitta is like the earth, like the Mother Earth. Earth is the source of all the good, all the goodness. Bodhicitta is like the field, the field, like the farm, like the field where we obtain all the good food, all the nutritious, good food and medicines and vitamins and so forth. This is the benefit of the meditation on bodhicitta. This is why bodhicitta practice is very important.
So now when we meditate on bodhicitta it is important to again correct our attitude. We should examine, every time when we practice bodhicitta we should think, "Am I practicing bodhicitta for the sake of myself? Am I practicing shunyata for my sake? Am I practicing tantra or mantra for my sake?" And it's easy to forget that. It's easy to forget that. And it's so easy, so easy for us to think, "Ok, I like to practice bodhicitta because bodhicitta is so powerful, it's so precious, so that I can become Buddha soon. And shunyata is very powerful because it cuts the root of samsara, therefore I can become Buddha soon. Tantric path is so powerful. It is direct path to enlightenment, therefore I can become Buddha." So it is important for us to check our motivations. Am I practicing bodhicitta for the sake of myself, or for all sentient beings?
And sometimes we think, we think, "I must not forget, I must not forget cultivating bodhicitta because I want to become Buddha. If I forget that, then I become a Hinayanist. I will go into the long route. It will take too long to become Buddha. I don't want to go to the long route. I want cut, shortcut. I want to become enlightened fast." And then same time forget about all beings. Then is that bodhicitta? Is that Mahayana attitude or not? It is important, it is important for us to cultivate bodhicitta, to analyze, to check on our motivation.
So therefore it is also important for us to learn how to meditate on bodhicitta. So there's two different technique. One technique is called, technique of cultivation bodhicitta is called Seven Mahayana Cause and Effect. And, like as I mentioned the other day, you first consider all beings as a mother. Then you think about the kindness of all beings. And you cultivate mind of repaying the kindness of all beings. Then you cultivate love and compassion, supreme wish and so forth.
Then other method is to practice bodhicitta indirectly, to exchange the attitude of oneself with others. In other words, exchange this feeling, trying to cultivate, exchange the feeling of oneself with others. In other words, try to cultivate, try to cultivate the benefit of others first, instead of me. And cultivate concern, and cultivate compassion for others, and cultivate and think of sufferings of others instead of my own. Instead of always thinking about, "I have this problem, I have that problem. I am sick, I am tired. I feel hurt. I feel abused." Always I, I, I, I. You know? So some people so self-absorbed.
And of course we are human beings. We have I, self-centered mind, naturally. And it is not possible right away get rid of this sense of I, self-grasping. Otherwise easy to become Mahayanist. And same time, I think it is very important to kind of look outwardly, think about others. For example, let's say every day take couple of hours, three hours, think about others. Think about, "What shall I do? How do I do? How do I help others? What can I do help others, or my neighbor? My colleague or friends, or people in this city? There's so much suffering, and there are lots of lonely people, sick and old people. Or what can I do to help people who are suffering, trapped, and being in prison or under the occupation of dictatorship or regime, and they're suffering. And people are suffering from racism and ethnic cleansing, and so on and so forth. What can I do?" Think about, maybe, for at least two hours, a day. Or even one hour a day. Instead of always me, me, me.
You know, we think about me all the time. Then, even when you practice Dharma, as soon as you sit down, ME. "I want to meditate. I like to do some exercise. I like to eat good food. I like to have good sleep. I like to do, feel good." Everything's me all the time. So much self-absorbed, self-concern. And I noticed, like, when some people come for interviews, or when, you know, people talking to each other, I'm talking Dharma people. A lot of people always talking about me, me, me, all the time. You know, "I have this problem. I have this problem." So much problems, dukka, dukka, dukka. It's always dukka, like mantra. "My dukka, my dukka. I'm so sick. I'm so tired. My energy's not right." And all kinds of things, and hardly talking about others. Or, "What can I do?"
Yes, of course, we have to find balance. We have to help ourselves, there's no doubt. We have to purify ourselves, we need to do meditate. We have to be healthy, as I mentioned last night. We have to become a better person, healthy person, happy person, holy person, so on and so on. But same time, also, we can do something for others and for the society. We have to do something. Otherwise, if we're always only talking about ourselves - my meditation, my meditation all the time - that's why I think sometimes people are a bit confused, people in this society, you know, in the west. Some people who are not Dharma people, who don't meditate, they think, "How does this meditation help? And Buddhist people, oh, they meditate. Buddhists are meditating. They're meditators. They sit on a cushion, cross their legs. But how does that help others, help society? How do others benefit?" And, like, that's the first reaction. First kind of answer people ask, first question people ask. "How does that help?" It's a good question.
And then people, some people are kind of shocked, you know? Like when someone's sitting in a cave, so many years, someone sitting in a temple so many years, doing retreat for three years, then three years retreat again, and then twice, three year retreat three times. And some people when they come out from three year retreat still they really don't know what bodhicitta is. And some people go crazy during three year retreat, because they have no training, no understanding of bodhicitta, paramitas, before they go into retreat. Because some people, they say, "Go, go, go, go! Go into the meditation, do retreat. Good for you! Good! Samsara's no good, just go. Meditate, say mantras, go into retreat. It's all good. You have nothing to lose, except samsara. Except your delusions. Go and meditate, it's good. Good luck! Good karma! You're lucky, fortunate, go." And, but no training. No basic understanding of lam rim, or bodhicitta and compassion, or six perfections. And some people go crazy. They leave the retreat, and they come out very confused. So that's because of no understanding of bodhicitta and no understanding of six perfections.
So I think it's very important for us to cultivate bodhicitta. Because ultimately the Dharma, the teaching of the Buddha is for the benefit of everybody, benefit of all sentient beings, enlightenment for all sentient beings. And the Buddha himself, for example, left, renounced, when he was called Prince Siddhartha, he renounced his home, palace, all the wealth, all the money, power, and positions. Gave up everything. Went searching, looking for the truth, searching the path, enlightenment. Meditated in the forest, fasting. And went through lots of purification. But he didn't sit there meditate all the time, and thinking about me, me all the time. And he, after six years, became enlightened. Then forty-six years traveled teaching, forty-six years teaching. Talk, teaching, give advice to people, counseling, teaching, healing. Gave Hinayana teaching, Mahayana teaching, Tantrayana teaching. Teaching was so important. Teaching Dharma. He taught for forty-six years. It's all because of the bodhicitta.
So anyway, what I'm trying to say tonight here - we need to balance, like, practice, meditation, do retreat, and then also meditation in action, cultivating bodhicitta, cultivating six paramitas. Then also go back and meditate. Balance. Or some people also don't meditate. That's also unbalanced, you know, some people the opposite. Don't meditate, don't do practice, no samadhi practice, no bodhicitta meditation, I mean, no practice. They don't do any tantric practice, mantras, visualizations, and retreats, and no daily practice, no daily commitments. They have a good heart, lots of good heart, like bodhicitta, lots of bodhicitta, wonderful. Always doing something for the others, for others. But then what happens sometimes, when you don't have, when you don't do formal practice, samadhi, and visualizations, or meditation on shunyata, and then you don't do retreat, and then you become like, you have this bodhicitta, but then you might end up developing kind of what some lamas call "idiot bodhicitta." Idiot compassion, or become kind of like martyr. And not really knowing what is the correct action, what is the correct, right speech, what is right action, right mindfulness, right livelihood, right concentration, right compassion. Doing something, but not clear, not sure. Not even sure that one has some ego and self-interest mixed up with this love of helping others, love of caring others, love of working for justice and peace and so on and so forth. That's all good motivation, but it's not very clear, and a little bit mixed up.
So that's why it's also, it is important to go back, be somewhere alone, and contemplate, meditate, do retreat. "Ok, I've done lots of work, Dharma-related work, working for justice and peace and solving problems of societies and so forth. I've done lots of work, but am I doing the right thing? Do I have right motivation? Do I, can I see clearly?" It is very necessary, very important to do retreat. And be alone, contemplate, do some mantras, visualizations, and pray to Tara, pray to Manjushri, and pray to guru. Say, "Please help me, Tara. You have compassion. You have wisdom, both. I need your inspiration. Please help me, Manjushri. You have the wisdom. You cut all the garbage, defilements, delusions. You cut through. I need your help, your inspiration. I'm here doing retreat for whatever, one month, three weeks, two weeks, one week, whatever. I'm doing this not just for I want to hide and I like to run away - I want to run away from society and, you know, tired of working and dealing with people. I'm not doing this, but I need to see what I can do in the future, when I've finished my retreat, go back to the world. I want to go back to the world. I want to practice generosity, patience, perseverance, Bodhisattva conduct. I like to make whatever I've been doing, I would like to make it better. Therefore I'm doing this retreat, doing the mantras, or visualization, or lam rim retreat." So we have to balance our practice.
I'd like to end talk here, and if you have questions, any questions, most welcome.
Q: Rinpoche, when I'm
sweeping my floor and some spider or ant or something.
Q: When I'm sweeping my kitchen floor, and...
Rinpoche: Why do you sleep on the kitchen floor? You have no energy to go to bed?
Q: No, sweeping.
Rinpoche: Oh! I thought you said sleeping! [Laughter.] Because I know one fellow in Toronto, he came home from school, he was so tired he had no energy to go to his room. He crashed on the kitchen floor. [Laughter.] I thought you were talking about like that. Ok, sorry, sweeping. Sweeping.
Q: Sweeping the kitchen floor, and if there's a little ant or spider on the floor, my practice is to gently sweep it up and put it outside. I do that because I have the knowledge that it's a sentient being, and I do that because I have the knowledge that if I kill it, I incur negative karma. Is that self-interest? Is my action self-interest or bodhicitta, because I have knowledge that it's a sentient being and I don't want to kill it.
Rinpoche: Well, what is the benefit of killing it? You don't get any benefit of killing it. You don't have to kill. You can wait until the ant or spider go away, and then you sweep the floor. Or you can pick up the ant or insects or spider, take it out. But see, some insects, they're not problem. They're not really problem. We think they're problem. Spiders actually very good. Spiders eat other insects. If you're worried about other insects, ask spiders come. [Laugher.] And that's their karma, their food chain. And let them do whatever they're doing.
Q: But if I do pick up the spiders or the ants and put them outside, if I do that out of the knowledge that if I kill it I will receive negative karma, is that self-interest?
Rinpoche: If you don't kill, also you will receive negative karma, too. If you don't take it out, you might get negative karma also.
Rinpoche: How? Well, then maybe too many spiders or too many insects. At some point, then you have to say, "Ok, well I can't stand now. There's too many of them." Then you might end up killing so many of them, or trying to take out so many of them. That also can become problem. So, but what I'm saying is that you don't have to kill. You don't have to kill, see. If you, we know why they come. Because they come if you don't close the doors or windows, if you don't have screen on the windows, and if you don't look after your space, place. Then they'll come, of course they'll come. But there's all kinds of ways of preventing them to come in. So if you do, if you follow those things, and if you prevent, methods of preventing coming in, then you don't have to killing, you don't have to kill.
Yes, but the motivation. You were asking the motivation. The motivation is, see if you say, "I don't want to kill because of bad karma for me," then I don't think that's selfish. You don't want to create bad karma, you know. And I don't think that's selfish. Because, I don't want to kill because if I kill, they suffer, for that reason as well. So, they have a right to live. All lives should be respected, and we should try to protect as much as possible.
Q: Rinpoche, I really have difficulty in sitting to meditate. I'm not motivated, I'm not self-disciplined, so I don't want to sit. I realize that it's necessary. How can I get motivated?
Rinpoche: You don't like sitting?
Q: It's very hard to actually sit down to meditate by myself.
Rinpoche: So first you think why you have difficulty sitting.
Q: Lack of self-discipline. And then when I do sit, it's like monkey-mind, because I'm not used to sitting.
Rinpoche: Sometimes when you sit down, you feel, "I shouldn't sit here, because I'm wasting my time. If I'm running around, I can do something good. And maybe I shouldn't sit." This is why you feel like you don't want to sit, you don't feel like sitting. Sometimes people have difficulty sitting because of physical problems. Sometimes people have difficult sitting, because suddenly, when you sit down and be quiet, then all kinds of thoughts comes and then all kinds of emotions arise. Then you feel difficult. You feel insecure. You don't want to sit. So you occupy your mind, forgetting, trying to forget about emotions, feelings and pain, confusions, suffering. You know, all kinds of stuff. Fear and so forth, delusions. So we try to occupy our mind, trying to forget those things, you know. And when you sit down, being quiet, then all kinds of things happening, so that's why, probably, sometimes people don't like to sit, or can't sit very long.
And also, lot of times because you're not used to sitting and hard to sit. And hard to sit alone and be quiet. And when you sit, you want to sit with somebody else. Sitting alone is difficult sometimes. But in any case, there's some things you can do, one thing is maybe you need the discipline, so you should make schedule, daily schedule, ok. Every day I should sit, meditate. You make schedule, you make a commitment to yourself. Make resolution. Say, "I should sit every day for twenty minutes." Just sit. Just sit, watch breath. You don't have to do lots of profound things, and try to do some profound things, or do some complicated meditation, or rituals and prayers and chanting and so on and so forth. You don't need to do. You just make commitment to yourself. Say, "I like to just sit. Watch breath." You make a vow, and say, "I sit in the morning. If not, I sit in the evening. I sit." And make that commitment. Then you sit.
So you find, yes, you find problems like monkey-mind, mind jumping around. Others will experience dullness-mind, sinking-mind, sleeping-mind and so forth. But this is normal. But if you sit, sit, and you get better. You will get better and better. Then some point you will feel, some point you will enjoy so much. You feel like, "I like to sit. I love sitting." And you find out how wonderful to sit, doing nothing. Just sit. Having that time to sit down, sit and watch breath. Oh, what a nice opportunity, good opportunity. It's a joy, real joy. It's a real gift. It's so wonderful. And then you feel very peaceful, actually peaceful and relaxed, your mind. And mind becomes clear. And also it's very good for your body, good for your brain, good for your heart. And release stress. So you begin to love, you know, you might be addicted later on. [Laugher.] "I cannot live without sitting. I have to sit every day. No matter what, I'm going to sit." It's a good addiction.
Q: Rinpoche, do you have any suggestions for helping children or teens to be less selfish? Trying to lead by example, maybe, which is the obvious one. But how can we help our children?
Rinpoche: That's a good question. I think, yes, being example is very important for us. We as a friend of the children, we as a parent of the children. So we should become a good example. But sometimes they don't see that you are practicing generosity, kindness. And they sometimes don't see. They don't understand why you are giving so much and being kind and nice to others, because they think, "You are weird!" You know, they always say, "You are weird! Daddy, you're weird." You know, "Uncle, you're weird." And they don't understand. So you have to explain to them. It's good to say, explain why you are doing this. And, "You think I'm weird. But a lot of good people are weird." [Laughter.] I have some friend, their children say like that. "Oh, you're weird." Or, "That person is weird. She's weird." I said to them, "Many good people are really weird. Weird doesn't mean it's bad." And so then they say, "Why?" "Well lots of weird people, some people look weird. Like Gandhi looked weird. And you think weird doesn't mean they're strange or bad or, you know, mad." When the Gandhi movie came out, all of the kids, they say, "Oh, old man wearing diapers!" They don't know. Anyway, so you explain how to be kind, gentle, nice.
And also, because many children are quite selfish, self-centered. Because, yeah, it's a natural thing, like "Me, me, me. I want this. I need this. I want." So, I think it's good to say, like "Think about other children. There are many children in Africa and Asia, your age, and who live very simple. Very little food, little money, little toys, little clothings. They are also happy, some of them happy. They are simple, live, but they can be happy. Many of them very unhappy, suffering. And it is good to share, we should share, give them. And save some money, have a piggy bank. And let's give this money for Unicef and Children's fund." And teach them how. Teach them. And then they understand.
And also say a little bit about what does selfish means? What does generosity and selfless means? What it does? Why it is good to be generous and selfless? Because it helps others. Other children and other people. And then sometimes you get to say, "Well, think about if you are in that situation, if you were on the other side of the world, how would you feel? If I or somebody give you food, and a nice T-shirt or nice pants, or whatever. You would feel happy. This is what we call generosity." So you educate them. Because they are very intelligent. They understand.
And I think actually, I think the most important thing is the parents, like us. Because if we, sometimes if we talk too much then they feel resent, you know. Like especially teenage. Because when the children are very small, they don't resent, and they don't say, "No, don't tell me." That means then you teach them, like when they are four years old or five years old, six years. That's a good time to, time to brainwash. [Laugher.] Right from the beginning! Then sometimes too late, and they become rebellious. And then it's too much, they feel too much. "No, don't tell me. Don't." But same time, when you're practicing, become example. Sometimes you don't have to say to them, they watch you, they learn. They pick up. It's amazing, sometimes. I found out, some children, they find out so many things about Dharma. And they tell you, and you're kind of shocked, makes you feel so happy, wow! I didn't know that she believes reincarnation. I didn't know she believes karma, or he believes this. And, you know, it makes you feel very happy. And they give you very good answer, Dharma answer. They just tell you about Dharma to us, you know. Like I have my nephew, nephews and niece, and I usually don't force them because, you know, they know I am teacher, so I just don't say very much to them. So one day my niece say to me, "Uncle, how do you find out your reincarnation?" And so I said, "Well, I think I will be around for a long time. Don't worry!"
Okay, we say dedication.
Transcribed text courtesty of
Golden Blue Lotus Tara Center