I am happy to see you all once again. As time goes
by, we have yet another chance to see each other. For that we have to thank our
karma. The continuation of time is the essential substance of karma. I always
thank my karma whenever I have a feeling of happiness, joy and satisfaction. But
I have never heard anybody say, 'Thanks to my karma.' People never thank their
own karma. They thank god or may be Buddha.
If you think deeply and profoundly,
eventually you would understand that the wisdom of thanking the karma is based
on some knowledge, which might have been given by some gurus or masters or found
in some teachings of Buddha. I am not saying that you should not thank the Buddha
or the masters. What I am saying is that there is a logic, indirectly to thank
them. But the immediate object of appreciation should be your karma.
daily practice, efforts should be made to develop compassion and wisdom. Generally
speaking, these two are missing in our life. There may be a few of you, who have
reached a state of very high realization. Then for you, there is no worry. But
commonly speaking, because we have yet attained realization, therefore, we need
rely on and hold onto the practice of compassion and wisdom.
and wisdom have to be developed within ourselves. They are not something that
you can get from outside. They have to come from within yourself. In a way, it
is not really important to practice compassion, loving-kindness and wisdom at
home. But in another way, it is very important because everything is relative,
inter-connected, and interdependent. This is the reason why I said, 'rely on.'
One has to rely on something. If you are already realized, then you do not have
to rely on anything. But you are not realized right now, so you have to rely on
something, like this kind of practice.
In its unrealized, relative state, life
is samsara, and life is suffering. But once you realize the ultimate truth, life
itself becomes cognition. So, there is no need to go or fabricate any further.
But unfortunately, you are not realized right now and you have to do something
else in order to realize the ultimate state.
Refuge and Bodhicitta is something
that you have to understand. Many of you have already gone through this kind of
practice a lot of times already. Therefore, there is no need to say anything again.
But I want to talk a little bit about this for the benefit of those who are quite
new to Buddhism.
Refuge is the first step we take to change the situation of
our life. I cannot say that the situation of our life is horrible. I won't say
that. Life is actually great, very pleasant, if we know how to loot at it. There's
nothing wrong with life. But if we don't know how to look at it, then life would
give us a lot of problems. So, this is what we have to change. We do not need
to change our life but we have to change the way we look at it. Therefore, we
take refuge, and we become refugees of the Truth.
The Buddha has given many
teachings on how to look at our life. So, we take refuge in the Buddha. This is
the reason why the Buddha is the first object of refuge. It is not because we
The second is Dharma which is the teachings of the Buddha. Dharma
is very important because it is the path that we practice so that we may realize
how to look at our life. How to look at our life is the main thing.
the Sangha, somebody that gives you support from different angles in your life
and not let you fall off the track. He or she does not really have to be a monk
or a nun. He or she is just somebody who can really support you in looking at
your life in the right and correct way.
Now the second step is the Bodhicitta.
Bodhicitta is the mind of enlightenment. After taking refuge, you have to cultivate
the mind of enlightenment. There are two kinds of mind of enlightenment: aspirational
mind of enlightenment and the practical mind of enlightenment. The mind is what
you simply have to change, in the sense of expanding the room of your mind.
now, we are very narrow minded. So we cannot think of anything. Sometimes, we
cannot think of ourselves also because we feel very much down with disappointment,
and we become depressed about ourselves. This clearly indicates that our mind
is shrinking to a state where we cannot even fit ourselves in. So in such a state,
how could we practice great compassion, great love, and great Bodhicitta? That
is quite impossible. Therefore, we need to expand our mind so that every sentient
being can fit into our mind, not only our family and friends, but everybody, including
our enemies. This is the reason why it is very difficult but very important to
The cycle of birth and death moves in continuity. Therefore,
it is known as cyclic existence. How does it move? The karma is the result of
the negative and positive accumulations, which push you around. There are six
realms ~ three lower and three upper realms. The engine of cyclic existence is
kept running by the accumulation of karma. The positive accumulations push you
up to the higher realms of samsara, and the negative actions and accumulations
push you down to the lower realms. This is why we usually emphasize such things
like ~ do not harm, be helpful and etc. Other religions are also teaching these.
It is one way of looking at life, but it should not be the ultimate way.
ultimate way of looking at life should be to attain ultimate realization ~ realization
of the negative as well as the positive accumulations, which are all included
in the reality of life. Accumulation of positive karma with no realization of
its own will only take us to one of the three higher realms. For us who are keen
to practice Bodhicitta, we should try to develop the ultimate realization along
with the accumulation of merits.
We need to live a better life in order to
practice without any obscuration. And what should we practice for? For getting
ourselves out of the samsara, out of the ups and downs in life. This is the main
reason why we should practice. We do not practice the Buddhist philosophy or meditation
just to obtain rebirth in the higher realms of samsara. This is not enough, and
this should not be the main target. As a practitioner, the target of your practice
should be to put yourself in a better situation so that you would be able to practice
without any obscuration and obstacles, and eventually be able to get out of samsara,
the cyclic existence. It says in the teachings that:
Anger results in the realm
Miserliness results in the realm of hungry ghosts,
in the realm of animals, etc.
So the cause and effect are both there; they
are the process of karma, the karmic cyclic existence. Therefore, we should not
be involved in these defilements, because they cause rebirth in the lower realms,
where we do not want to go. It is not because the comfort is not there, or the
privileges of human pleasure is not there. We have seen dogs who are looked after
much better than human beings. So in this respect, taking rebirth as a dog may
not be that bad. Furthermore, human beings have a lot of problems caused by fabrications,
and a dog does not suffer from such nonsense. Some of the dogs even have a lot
of good food, opportunities to exercise, and lots of toys to play with. They can
live a much more pleasant life than the human beings.
Therefore, if comfort
and pleasure are the only target for seeking rebirth in higher realms, then one
may argue and say, 'I would rather be reborn as a dog.' But the principal idea
is to be able to practice Dharma, to practice the right path. The animals and
hungry ghosts do not have these opportunities to practice Dharma. Even those in
the god realm cannot or may not be able to practice true Dharma, true path. Therefore,
we need to do something so that we will be in the right realm, which is the precious
Human life is very precious. But whether it is truly precious
or not fully depends on how you look at it and how you cultivate it. If you use
your life in the wrong way, then you can be worse than animals. Just look at the
pollution, destruction of environment and unnecessary harmful activities we see
today, then we can really conclude that human beings are doing hundred times worse
than any other being.
We have to make our life precious by following the philosophy
or law of universal truth. The law of universal truth is such that we can make
our life better and more precious because everything in our life is interdependent,
and our world is a very relative world. We can make it better or worse. Therefore,
life should be understood as inseparable from the practice of Dharma, the practice
of universal truth. It actually means that life has to be cultivated.
treat life as being different from the practice of Dharma, then your life will
remain devoid of practice, even if you practice for entire life. We have many
excuses to say that we have no time to practice, that we have so many things to
do, such as taking care of children, business or work. All these are just excuses.
Otherwise, life can be seen as Dharma.
Dharma has to be understood as life
and life has to be understood as Dharma. So every minute of your life is actually
Dharma. There are plenty of things you can go through, but the basic thing is
to understand and to cultivate the understanding that life is inseparable from
Dharma. There is nothing else you need to understand or cultivate.
practice of spirituality is compassion and wisdom. Some people make a big issue
out of this, and then they also end up with realizing nothing. These people always
say, 'This is a very advanced practice, we cannot practice this. We do not really
have the time.' They find many excuses to avoid it, and then end up accomplishing
Actually, compassion is a daily practice. In our day-to-day life,
we should be compassionate towards our friends, our partners, and even to ourselves.
Be compassionate towards our friends who are suffering emotionally and physically.
constantly check and investigate your thoughts. First, you ought to be compassionate
towards yourself by looking at your nasty deeds, naughtiness, and unnecessary
worries. Then sometimes, when people do something nasty to you, you should use
compassion to kill your anger. Compassion has to be practiced every minute. This
is the reason why I am saying that life has to be understood and practiced as
Wisdom is the basic foundation. If wisdom is not there, then compassion
cannot be practiced in a right way. Compassion will be blind and devotion will
also be blind. This is not the skillful way. Therefore, wisdom is always needed.
example, to go from here to another country, you should know the easiest and cheapest
way to travel. This is also wisdom, even though this is not the great wisdom.
From this point of view, your wisdom is also sharpening. If you do not work on
your wisdom as part of your practice, then the wisdom is wasted. Sometimes, even
if you feel compassionate towards beggars or sick people, this is also wasted
because you are not cultivating compassion in order to develop your own understanding.
we should not be wasting the energy of compassion and wisdom for selfish ends.
The energy of compassion and wisdom should be used in a selfless way. This is
the path of the Buddha, the path of enlightenment and the path of wisdom. This
is the true path.
Formal practices like recitation and meditation are also
very important. Each has its benefits, its own beauty and value; but overall,
what we really need to do is to cultivate our natural energy ~ the energy that
we have not really developed and do not know how to use. Therefore, we should
learn to use our natural energy in a selfless way. This is the Buddhist path,
this is the Dharma.
If you practice these three ~ wisdom, compassion and devotion
~ with selfish motivation, then this may result in your rebirth in higher realms,
like the realm of gods or demi-gods; but this will never help you to get out of
the samsara. So, you have to be very careful to check whether the selfish attitude
is involved or not when you practice. This is very important to know.
people have a strong tendency to practice Buddhism, or spiritual path, and they
even have a very strong motivation to give up the material life like wealth, family,
and etc. They have this sort of strength to sacrifice everything, in order to
do some spiritual practice for many years. But still, they end up going nowhere.
I am not saying all of them are having problems; but many of them, after spending
say three or six years in practice, get upset with what they have been doing.
And then, they end up either criticizing Buddhism or the practice of spirituality,
or blaming themselves and feeling that they are not qualified. But actually, there
is nothing wrong with them, and nothing wrong with the path. The only mistake
is that they do not have the wisdom or the development of wisdom to know how to
look at life as Dharma. They do not know how to understand life as the principal
practice. Without bothering much about life, they just practice superficially.
This leads to a great waste of time. Superficially means every part of their practice
is linked with ego, or egoistic attitude. This is like a demon, a very potent
poison that really destroys the whole scene of spirituality.
The practice with
egoistic attitude will take you nowhere. You will end up with disappointment.
one of the greatest yogis of Tibet, strongly emphasized in one of his teachings
that Dharma has to be practiced in a correct manner. Otherwise, Dharma will cause
problems. It would seem as though Gampopa was discouraging the practice of Dharma.
Actually what he meant was that the egoistic attitude should not be involved in
our practice of Dharma. So long as we cannot practice Dharma in the pure way,
it is better not to jump in. Just sit back and wait for awhile, and learn whatever
the limited way we can and do it in the pure and correct way.
The first focus
in the practice of Dharma is, as I mentioned, the development of the right view
to look at your mind, to look at your day-to-day life. This is the essential point
of practice. And the second step is recitation, meditation, prostration and etc.
Then all these practices that you do would go in the right direction; they will
never go in the wrong way.
For example, there are many types of medicine, pills
or drugs. If you know how to really treat your disease or illness with the correct
medicine, then the medicine will work in the right way. If you do not know how
any of the medicine functions, you cannot take all of them just because they are
all very expensive and precious. If you do that, it would worsen your condition,
and may even kill you.
Medicine is not poisonous; but it becomes poisonous
if you do not know how to take it. So similar thing may happen in your life with
all sorts of practices. We may feel that this practice is good and that practice
is also good; and since this lama is teaching and that Rinpoche is giving initiation,
we should attend all of them. So you take everything and then also pretend to
practice. Of course, in a way, it is very nice. You are at least practicing. It
is better than nothing. But then eventually this kind of attitude will cause you
lots of problems.
I am not criticizing those practitioners; but I disagree
with those people who do not bother to cultivate their life and wisdom while practicing
spirituality. And they do not know what is spiritual. First of all, they should
know how to combine daily life and wisdom with spiritual practice. This is very