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Bodhicitta: the Perfection of Dharma
  Bodhicitta: the Perfection of Dharma / by Lama Thubten Yeshe

  Think it is absolutely essential for us to have loving kindness towards others. There is no doubt about this. Loving kindness is the essence of bodhicitta, the attitude of the bodhisattva. It is the most comfortable path, the most comfortable meditation. There can be no philosophical, scientific or psychological disagreement with this. With bodhicitta, there's no East-West conflict. This path is the most comfortable, most perfect, one hundred percent uncomplicated one, free of any danger of leading people to extremes. Without bodhicitta, nothing works. And most of all, your meditation doesn't work, and realizations don't come.

  Why is bodhicitta necessary for success in meditation? Because of selfish grasping. If you have a good meditation but don't have bodhicitta, you will grasp at any little experience of bliss: 'Me, me; I want more, I want more.' Then the good experience disappears completely. Grasping is the greatest distraction to experiencing single-pointed intensive awareness in meditation. And with it, we are always dedicated to our own happiness: 'Me, me I'm miserable, I want to be happy. Therefore I'll meditate.' It doesn't work that way. For some reason good meditation and its results—peacefulness, satisfaction and bliss—just don't come.......... Also, without bodhicitta it is very difficult to collect merits. You create them and immediately destroy them; by afternoon, the morning's merits have gone. It's like cleaning a room and an hour later making it dirty again. You make your mind clean, then right away you mess it up - not a very profitable business. If you want to succeed in the business of collecting merits, you must have bodhicitta. With bodhicitta you become so precious—like gold, like diamonds; you become the most perfect object in the world, beyond compare with any material things. From the Western, materialistic point of view, we'd think it was great if a rich person said,'I want to make charity. I'm going to offer $100 to everybody in the entire world.' Even if that person gave with great sincerity, his or her merit would be nothing compared with just the thought,'I wish to actualize bodhicitta for the sake of sentient beings, and I'll practice the six paramitas as much as I can. That's why I always say, actualization of bodhicitta is the most perfect path you can take.

  "The best Dharma practice, the most perfect, most substantial, is without doubt the practice of bodhicitta."

  Remember the story of the Kadampa geshe who saw a man circumambulating a stupa? He said, 'What are you doing?' and the man answered, 'Circumambulating.' So the geshe said, 'Wouldn't it be better if you practiced dharma?' Next time the geshe saw the man he was prostrating, and when he again asked what he was doing, the man replied, 'One hundred thousand prostrations.' 'Wouldn't it be better if you practiced dharma?' asked the geshe. Anyway, the story goes on, but the point is that just doing religious-looking actions like circumambulation and prostration isn't necessarily practicing dharma. What we have to do is transform our attachment and self-cherishing, and if we haven't changed our mind in this way, none of the other practices work; doing them is just a joke. Even if you try to practice tantric meditations, unless you've changed within, you won't succeed. dharma means a complete change of attitude - that's what really brings you inner happiness, that is the true Dharma, not the words you say. Bodhicitta is not the culture of ego, not the culture of attachment, not the culture of samsara. It is an unbelievable transformation, the most comfortable path, the most substantial path—definite, not wishy-washy. Sometimes your meditation is not solid; you just space out. Bodhicitta meditation means you really want to change your mind and actions and transform your whole life.......... We are all involved in human relationships with each other. Why do we sometimes say,'I love you,' and sometimes, 'I hate you?' Where does this up-and-down mind come from? From the self-cherishing thought—a complete lack of bodhicitta. What we are saying is, 'I hate you because I'm not getting any satisfaction from you. You hurt me; you don't give me pleasure. That's the whole thing: I—my ego, my attachment—am not getting satisfaction from you, therefore I hate you. What a joke! All the difficulties in inter-personal relationships come from not having bodhicitta, from not having changed our minds.......... So, you see, just meditating is not enough. If that Kadampa geshe saw you sitting in meditation he'd say, 'What are you doing? Wouldn't it be better if you practiced dharma?' Circumambulating isn't dharma, prostrating isn't dharma, meditating isn't dharma. My goodness, what is dharma, then? This is what happened to the man in the story. He couldn't think of anything else to do. Well, the best dharma practice, the most perfect, most substantial, is without doubt the practice of bodhicitta.......... You can prove scientifically that bodhicitta is the best practice to do. Our self-cherishing thought is the root of all human problems. It makes our lives difficult and miserable. The solution to self-cherishing, its antidote, is the mind that is its complete opposite—bodhicitta. The self-cherishing mind is worried about only me, me—the self-existent I. Bodhicitta substitutes others for self. It creates space in your mind. Then even if your dearest friend forgets to give you a Christmas present, you don't mind. "Ah, well. This year she didn't give me my chocolate. It doesn't matter." Anyway, your human relationships are not for chocolate, not for sensory pleasures. Something much deeper can come from our being together, working together.

  "With bodhicitta you become so precious— like gold, like diamonds. You become the most perfect object in the world, beyond compare with any material things."

  If you want to be really, really happy, it isn't enough just to space out in meditation. Many people who have spent years alone in meditation have finished up the worse for it. Coming back into society, they have freaked out. They haven't been able to take contact with other people again, because the peaceful environment they created was an artificial condition, still a relative phenomenon without solidity. With bodhicitta, no matter where you go, you will never freak out. The more you are involved with people the more pleasure you get. People become the resource of your pleasure. You are living for people. Even though some still try to take advantage of you, you understand: 'Well, in the past I took advantage of them many times too.' So it doesn't bother you.......... Thus bodhicitta is the most perfect way to practice dharma, especially in our twentieth-century Western society. It is very, very worthwhile. With the foundation of bodhicitta you will definitely grow.......... If you take a proper look deep into your heart you will see that one of the main causes of your dissatisfaction is the fact that you are not helping others as best you can. When you realize this you'll be able to say to yourself, 'I must develop myself so that I can help others satisfactorily. By improving myself I can definitely help.' Thus you have more strength and energy to meditate, to keep pure morality and do other good things. You have energy, 'Because I want to help others.' That is why Lama Tsong Khapa said that bodhicitta is the foundation of all enlightened realizations.......... Also, bodhicitta energy is alchemical. It transforms all your ordinary actions of body, speech and mind—your entire life into positivity and benefit for others, like iron transmuted into gold. I think this is definitely true. You can see, it's not difficult. For example look at other people's faces. Some people, no matter what problems and suffering they are enduring, when they go out they always try to appear happy and show a positive aspect to others. Have you noticed this or not? But other people always go about miserable, and angry. What do you think about that? I honestly think that it indicates a fundamental difference in the way these two kinds of people think. Human beings are actually very simple. Some are a disaster within and it shows on their faces and makes those whom they meet feel sick. Others, even though they are suffering intensely, always put on a brave face because they are considerate of the way others feel.......... I believe this is very important. What's the use of putting out a miserable vibration? Just because you feel miserable, why make others unhappy too? It doesn't help. You should try to control your emotions, speak evenly and so forth. Sometimes when people are suffering they close off from others, but you can still feel their miserable vibration. This doesn't help—others with even momentary happiness forget about leading them to enlightenment. To help the people around you, you have to maintain a happy, peaceful vibration. This is very practical, very worthwhile. Sometimes we talk too much about enlightenment and things like that. We have a long way to go to such realizations. Forget about enlightenment, I don't care about buddhahood—just be practical. If you can't help others, at least don't give them any harm, stay neutral.......... Anyway, what I'm supposed to be telling you here is that bodhicitta is like atomic energy to transform your mind. This is absolutely, scientifically true, and not something that you have to believe with blind religious faith. Everybody nowadays is afraid of nuclear war, but if we all had bodhicitta, wouldn't we all be completely secure? Of course we would. With bodhicitta you control all desire to defeat or kill others. And, as Lama Je Tzong Khapa said, when you have bodhicitta all the good things in life are magnetically attracted to you and pour down upon you like rain. At present all we attract is misfortune because all we have is the self-cherishing thought. But with bodhicitta we'll attract good friends, good food, good everything. As His Holiness the Dalai Lama said recently, if you're going to be selfish, do it on a grand scale; wide selfishness is better than narrow! What did His Holiness mean'! He was saying that, in a way, bodhicitta is like a huge selfish attitude because when you dedicate yourself to others with loving kindness you get a lot more pleasure than you would otherwise. With our present, usual selfish attitude we experience very little pleasure, and what we have is easily lost. With 'great selfishness' you help others and you help yourself; with small it's always 'me, me, me and it is easy to lose everything.......... Remember, Atisha had over 150 teachers? He respected them all, but when he heard the name of one—Lama Dharmarakshita—he would come out in goose-bumps. He explained this by saying, 'I received many teachings from many, many great gurus, but for me, Lama Dharmarakshita, who gave me the bodhicitta ordination and teachings on the method and wisdom of bodhicitta and the six paramitas, was the most helpful for my life'. This is very true. Sometimes techniques of deity meditation are extremely difficult, but bodhicitta meditation is so simple, so incredibly profound and real. That's why Atisha would shake when he heard the name of his main teacher of bodhicitta.......... The main point, then, is that when you contact Buddhadharma you should conquer the mad elephant of your self-cherishing mind. If the dharma you hear helps you diminish your self-cherishing even a little, it has been worthwhile. But if the teachings you have taken have had no effect on your selfishness, then from the Mahayana point of view, even if you can talk intellectually on the entire lam-rim, they have not been must use at all.......... Do you recall the story of Shantideva and how people used to put him down? They used to call him Du-she-sum-pa, which means one who knows how to do only three things: eating, sleeping and excreting. This was a very bad thing to call someone, especially a monk. But that's all that people could see him doing. However, he had bodhicitta, so whatever he did, even ordinary things, was of greatest benefit to others. Lying down, peacefully, he would meditate with great concern for the welfare of all living beings, and many times, out of compassion, he would cry for them. Westerners need that kind of practice. Fundamentally we are lazy. Well, maybe not lazy, but when we finish work we are tired and don't have much energy left. So, when you come home from work, lie down comfortably and meditate on bodhicitta. This is most worthwhile. Much better than rushing in speedily, throwing down a coffee and dropping onto your meditation cushion to try to meditate. It doesn't work that way; your nervous system needs time and space. You can't be rushing through traffic one minute and sitting quietly meditating the next. Everything takes time and space. It is much better to r have a quiet, blissful cup of coffee, And don't pressure yourself either; that too is very bad. Don't punish yourself when you are too tired to meditate: 'I should be meditating; I am very bad.' You destroy yourself like this. Be wise. Treat yourself, your mind, sympathetically, with loving kindness. If you are gentle with yourself you will become gentle with others so don't push. Pushing doesn't work for me, that's why I tell others not to force themselves. We are dealing with the mind, not rocks and concrete; it is something organic.

  "In a way, bodhicitta is like a huge selfish attitude because when you dedicate yourself to others with loving kindness you get a lot more pleasure than you would otherwise."

  The Western environment offers lots of suffering conditions that act as causes for our actualizing bodhicitta, so life there can be very worthwhile. For example, it is much better to subdue an adversary with bodhicitta than with a knife or gun. When attacked, you can practice loving kindness. We could also do this in the monasteries of Tibet, where there were often horrible monks. Don't think that Tibet was full of only holy people—we had unbelievably wild monks there that nobody in authority could subdue! If you would try to control them wrathfully they would get only more aggressive. But arya bodhisattva monks, people who had completely given themselves up for others, would treat them with loving kindness, and the wild monks would calm down completely. They would feel, 'This man loves me; he has great compassion. He has given up everything for others and has nothing to lose.' In that way aggressive people would be subdued, without authority but with bodhicitta. There are many stories about this kind of thing, but I'm not going to tell them now. Perhaps you think they're funny, but it's true—you can conquer your enemies, both internal and external, with loving kindness and bodhicitta. It is most worthwhile and there's no contradiction bodhicitta is the totally comfortable path to liberation and enlightenment.......... In his text Lama Choepa, the Panchen Lama says, 'Self-cherishing is the cause of all misery and dissatisfaction, and holding all mother sentient beings dearer than oneself is the foundation of all realizations and knowledge. Therefore bless me to change self-cherishing into concern for all others.' This is not some deep philosophical theory but a very simple statement. You know from your own life's experiences without needing a Tibetan text's explanations that your self-cherishing thought is the cause of all your confusion and frustration. This evolution of suffering is found not only in Tibetan culture but in yours as well. And the Panchen Lama goes on to say that we should look at what the Buddha did. He gave up his self-attachment and attained all the sublime realizations. But look at us we are obsessed with 'me, me, me' and have realized nothing but unending misery. This is very clear isn't it? Therefore you should know clean clear how this works. Get rid of the false concept of self-cherishing and you'll be free of all misery and dissatisfaction. Concern yourself for the welfare of all others and wish for them to attain the highest realizations such as bodhicitta and you'll find all happiness and satisfaction.

  "Bodhicitta is the most perfect way to practise dharma, especially in our twentieth century Western society. It is very, very worthwhile. With the foundation of bodhicitta you will definitely grow."

  You people are young, intelligent and not satisfied with what you have in your own countries. That's why you are seeking further afield. And now you have found that most worthwhile of all things, bodhicitta.......... But it is not an easy thing. Easy things bore you quickly. It is quite difficult, but there's no way you'll get bored practicing it. People need to be most intelligent to actualize bodhicitta, some, though, have no room for it. 'Forget about yourself and have a little concern for others?' they'll ask. 'That's not my culture.' It is very difficult to change holding yourself dear into holding others dear instead—the most difficult task you can undertake. But it is the most worthwhile and brings the greatest satisfaction.......... After practicing some meditations, such as impermanence and death, for a month you'll say, 'I'm tired of that meditation.' But you'll never get tired of meditating on bodhicitta. It is so deep; a universal meditation. You'll never get tired of bodhicitta.......... You have heard of many deities that you can meditate on, many deities to be initiated into - Chenrezig and the rest. What are they all for? I'll tell you—for gaining bodhicitta. As a matter of fact, all tantric meditations are for the development of strong bodhicitta. That is the purpose of your consciousness manifesting as a being with 1000 arms so that vou can lend a hand to a thousand suffering beings. If you don't like to manifest yourself this way you can relate the meditation to your own culture and see yourself as Jesus. Avalokiteshvara and Jesus are the same: completely selfless and completely devoted to serving others.......... Remember what happened the first time that Avalokiteshvara took the bodhisattva ordination? He vowed to guide all universal living beings to enlightenment from behind, like a shepherd.'I do not want to realize enlightenment until first I have led all mother sentient beings there first. That will be my satisfaction.' He worked for years and years, leading thousands of beings to enlightenment, but when he checked to see what was happening he found there were still countless more. So again he worked for years and years and again when he checked there were still so many left, and this cycle was repeated until finally he was fed up and thought to himself, 'For aeons and aeons I have struggled to lead all sentient beings to enlightenment but there are still so many left. I think it is impossible to fulfil my vow.' And because of the intensity of his emotion his head split into eleven pieces. Then Amitabha Buddha came and offered to help, and blessed him to be successful. So I'm sure some of you people can be like Chenrezig. The main thing is to have strong motivation. Even if it comes strongly only once, it is extremely powerful. It is very rare to have this kind of thought. A mere flash is so worthwhile; to have it for a minute for a day...



  The Ego --- Beauty is in the I of the Beholder / by Lama Thubten Yeshe

  At some point in your life you are going to have to make the following strong determination: "I'm tired of being a servant to my ego. My ego rules my mind, and even though it gives me nothing but trouble, continuously, continuously, with no time for rest, I spend my entire life as its servant. My mind is constantly in turmoil only because of my ego. I'm not going to be a slave to my ego any longer!"

  For example, we would all like to have beautiful bodies; our ego wants our body to be beautiful. But at the same time, our attachment—sneaky, grasping attachment—makes us eat more than our body requires. Thus our body becomes fat and heavy. So all the worry and bother that we experience as a result comes from these two departments, ego and attachment. This is just a simple example, common in many of our lives.

  Check it out for yourself. Perhaps your body needs very little food, but your grasping attachment to over-eating makes you fat, heavy and uncomfortable. At the same time, you also worry about losing your beauty; these two things are in conflict. So which do you choose, the ego's wish for a beautiful body or the attachment to eating food? Look into your mind; find the one you cling to most. One mind is there, grasping at beauty; the other is there too, knowing consciously that if you eat too much you'll get fat and destroy whatever beauty you have. Still, you can't stop eating; these two minds agitate you, give you a psychological beating. But despite their constantly mashing you, you keep saying "Yes, yes, yes...." It's funny.

  So funny. Completely. The human mind is so funny. So silly, if you really check up. The idea that thin is beautiful, fat is ugly comes from the mind. Of course, I agree, if you are too fat it can be physically unhealthy; that's OK. But the idea, the picture created by attachment and desire of what is beautiful, what is ugly, is so silly, isn't it? It's not the reality of the fat that bothers you but the idea that it's unattractive. Why? Because you are clinging to reputation, worried about what other people think of you. I tell you, the mother sentient beings on this earth are so silly. People in one country think something is pretty; people in another country think the same thing is ugly. Here, this is bad; there, it is good. To some, this is beautiful; to others something else is beautiful. It's all made up; they're just different ideas.

  Otherwise, where is the external, permanent, absolute beauty? It is only the way our ego mind interprets objects that makes them beautiful or ugly. You check up; it's so simple. When you do the body sweeping meditation, for example, where your mind examines every part of your body, try to find the beauty. Check up: what's beautiful, which part are you clinging to as beautiful? Check up: your interpretation of what's beautiful and what's ugly is so superficial; it's just your ego's projection, but it makes you so confused. You're confused even now. You don't know any longer what is good or what is bad. Really!

  When you go to the bathroom, you don't stand there admiring what you've just deposited into the toilet bowl, do you? Same thing; when you gaze into the mirror at your beautiful body or face, when you get stuck on the aspects of yourself that your ego's projection has deemed attractive, let your mind travel into your body from the inside of your nose all the way down, trying to determine exactly where your beauty is. You'll find that basically, every part of your body is identical to what you've just excreted. This is scientific reality, not a matter of belief. The object of beauty that you cling to is attractive simply because of an extremely superficial judgment made by your fickle mind.

  Look at the confused young women of today. They run from one man to another, to another, to another, another man, another man, another man...they experience so much trouble, more trouble, so much trouble. But at the same time, they're expecting, "Maybe this one will be good for me, maybe that one will be good for me...." These are such superficial experiences, all mental projections, projections painted by their egos. "Maybe this, maybe this," with expectation, " Maybe this, maybe this, maybe this...." No satisfaction at all; always trouble.

  Perhaps you're thinking, "Oh, Lama's putting women down too much." Men are the same thing! Such deluded men. They change their wives, change, change, change, superficially discriminating, "Good, good, good...." Then, after a while "good" turns to "bad," so they change again. Then good, then bad, then change; then good, then bad, then change. Their judgment, good and bad, beautiful and ugly, is so completely superficial; it has nothing whatsoever to do with reality, either inner or outer. There's no understanding, no communication, and such fear and insecurity, all because of ego and attachment.

  All this comes from the mind. We're totally preoccupied with our ego's superficial projections, while we turn our backs on reality. No wonder we're completely confused and unable to communicate properly with any living being. All this comes from our big ego.

  Therefore, it is highly worthwhile to switch your mental attitude from the attachment that is always saying, "I, I, I" to purely dedicating your life to the welfare of others. Recognize that you have been building attachment for years and years but still have nothing to show for it; it is so important to be aware of this. When you dedicate your life to others you are acknowledging that true human beauty is not on the outside, that beauty is not the view projected by your ego onto another person's skin, but rather that what is truly beautiful is others' inner potential. When you see that, you respect other sentient beings, instead of respecting only yourself and spending all your time developing your two inner departments of ego and attachment.

  Wherever you go—East, West, sky, earth, beneath the earth—there are other sentient beings. If, through having recognized the false conceptions of ego and attachment, you generate the pure motivation of dedicating your life to others, your life will become truly worthwhile, you will give real meaning to being alive.



  When We Study Buddhism We Study Ourselves / by Lama Thubten Yeshe

  When we study Buddhism we are studying ourselves—learning about the nature of our own minds. The emphasis is not on something supreme; it is on practical things like how to Live the daily life and how to integrate it with the mind so that the mind remains peaceful and healthy. In other words, the emphasis is on experiential knowledge-wisdom, not dogmatic views. Actually, in Western terminology we would not say that Buddhism is religion, but rather philosophy, science or psychology.

  An instinctive tendency; of the human mind is to search for happiness; in this respect Eastern and Western people are no different. But if your life-style overemphasizes the sense world and you grasp at it emotionally, it is very dangerous—you have no control. Now control is not an Eastern custom or a Buddhist trip; we all need control. Especially those who live a materialistic life and psychologically are too attached to objects. From the point of view of Buddhist philosophy such a mind is not healthy, is mentally sick. You already know that external scientific technological advances alone cannot satisfy the desires of your attachment or stop your emotional problems.

  Thus the method of Lord Buddha's teachings is to show you the nature of the human mind, your human potential and how you can develop further. Moreover, this method does not emphasize blind belief in, rather than understanding of, metaphysical processes. However, whether you are religious or non- religious, or a believer or a non-believer, the important thing is to know the nature of your own mind. If you don't, it is so easy to think that you are healthy and functioning well in your daily life while in fact the root of disturbing emotions is growing firmer and deeper within your mind. With this fundamental cause of psychological disease within you, a tiny change of conditions can precipitate mental illness. As long as you are totally immersed in blind attachment to the sense world, not knowing the nature of your mind, this can happen. You can't reject this: "I don't believe it." You can't reject your nose: "I don't believe I have a nose." Whether you believe you have a nose or not, it's there!

  Many Western people say, "I don't believe in anything"; they are so proud of being non-believers. But check this—it's very important to know. In the West there are so many contradictions: scientists think they are non-believers; religious people think they are believers. However, whether you think you are a believer or a non-believer, you have to know the nature of your own mind.

  You always talk about attachment, but you don't know how to control it. To say the word is easy, but to know the nature of attachment is very difficult. A simple example: cars and aeroplanes were invented to allow people to do things more quickly, leaving them more time for leisure; but the result is that people's minds are more restless than ever. I'm not complaining, but you examine your daily life. What I'm saying is that when the whole country is involved in the sense world under the control of attachment, you don't have the chance or time to see the reality of your mind. I call that kind of life-style difficult. There is no way you can really enjoy yourself and experience satisfaction, because true enjoyment comes from the mind, not from external phenomena.

  Modern, intelligently skeptical young people do have some understanding of what is worthwhile in life, and know that enjoyment does not come from temporal—or, in Buddhist terminology, "samsaric"—objects alone. Thus they are searching for that which truly satisfies. When Lord Buddha talked so much about suffering he was not referring primarily to physical illness and pain but to dissatisfaction. Dissatisfaction is the real suffering. No matter how much you get, your desires do not abate; you always want more. That is suffering; that is deluded frustration.

  Buddhist psychology enumerates six fundamental delusions, which frustrate and disturb the peace of the human mind and cause it to become restless: attachment, anger, ignorance, pride, deluded doubt and holding distorted views. These are mental, not external phenomena. So, when Lord Buddha taught people how to overcome these delusions, he emphasized the necessity of understanding their nature, not simply belief and faith. Without investigating your mind and developing introspective knowledge-wisdom it is not possible to develop such understanding. Even though we talk a lot about delusions, we don't really know anything. Those fundamental delusions come from the ego, they make the mind restless. To be free you don't have to give up your possessions. You can keep your possessions, but if you do so with attachment you will make yourself restless and your life difficult; you will keep your mind foggy and polluted. The unclear mind is by nature ignorant and agitated; the light of wisdom cannot grow in such a mind. The solution to this problem is meditation.

  Meditation does not imply sitting in a corner doing nothing, trying to develop single-pointed concentration. It is a type of wisdom free from sluggishness whose function is awareness of the state of mind. In your daily life you should be aware of everything you do and why and how you do it. Usually we do everything unconsciously: we eat unconsciously, drink unconsciously, talk unconsciously. We have no idea of what is happening in our minds, even though we say we are conscious. I'm not judging you, putting you down, but you look for yourself. The way of Buddhism is to put forward ideas for you to examine and experience. I'm not talking about something way up in the sky. This is very simple.

  If you do not know the nature of attachment and its object it's impossible for you to have loving kindness for your friends, parents and country. Since your mind is unconscious you hurt those close to you. Similarly, someone who is angry completely forgets himself; he has no idea what's going on in his mind. You know how it is; these are just examples of what we do. Many times we hurt others through being unconscious: we are not aware of our own behaviour or mental attitude and have no respect for others.

  In the West there are people who have specialist education in psychology. But Lord Buddha wants us all to become psychologists; you should know your own mind. Lord Buddha feels that it is definitely possible, that every human being has the potential ability to understand, and thereby to control, his own mind. When you understand your mind, control comes naturally. Don't think that investigating the mind is just a Himalayan trip, something only for those who have no material possessions. Just check; whenever you are emotionally involved with something, instead of acting, relax; try to be aware of what you are doing. Ask yourself, "What am I doing? How? What is making me do this?" It is really wonderful if you can analyze yourself like this. With understanding you can stop your problems so easily. Our problem is that we lack intensive knowledge-wisdom, or awareness, or consciousness...it doesn't matter what you call. it.

  Therefore, to show others loving kindness you have to know the nature of the object. If you don't you will get caught up in yet another arrogant ego trip. "I love him," "I love her." Make sure you know how and why —it is so important that you become your own psychologist. Then you can treat yourself with your own wisdom, and enjoy your material possessions with a relaxed mind instead of a restless and berserk one, which ruins your life.

  To become a psychologist you don't have to learn some big philosophy; all you have to do is examine your own mind every day. You examine material things every day—the food in your kitchen, for example-so why can't you check your mind? This is far more important. Life in the West is based on an "I can always buy the solution to my problems down at the supermarket" mentality. You think that you can always go to the pharmacy and pick up some pills, that whenever you are emotionally frustrated you can get some drug from your doctor. Do you think remedies like those are really helpful? Of course they are not. Although they seem to help, they are so transitory. They don't even destroy the symptoms of deluded emotions; they only make you sluggish and more ignorant. Your materialistic mind thinks that pleasure and happiness can be bought, but they can't. In its depths lies the idea that you can buy a peaceful mind in the supermarket. That's a total misconception. Religious people should also try to understand their own minds instead of just trying to believe in something. That is far more practical. Belief alone cannot solve your problems; only understanding knowledge-wisdom can do that. Lord Buddha even said that it is dangerous to believe in Buddha and exhorted us to understand our own nature instead. When you have discovered something with your own mind, then it is all right to believe in it. Belief based on realizations or clear intellectual understanding is perfectly acceptable. But if you are not clear why you believe what you do, your faith can easily be destroyed by others. Many spiritually inclined people are weak because they don't understand the true nature of their spirit, or mind. Understanding is a form of mental energy: it supports your mind and keeps it healthy.

  When you understand your mind's view, or perception of things, you realize that all along you have been grasping at the sense world—and at an imaginary, idealistic future that is simply a projection of your mind and has not the slightest physical reality—you have been completely unconscious of the present. You must agree that this is an unhealthy state of mind.

  It is very important to maintain awareness throughout your day. The nature of wisdom and awareness is peace and joy. You don't have to grasp for the experience of joy or at anything that might bring it—you simply have to act correctly with right understanding. Thus the result of joy arises spontaneously. You don't have to think, "If I spend my life acting in this way, next life I'll experience the good result." You don't have to be obsessed with attaining some realization or other. As long as you act with as much understanding as you can, you will quickly attain the realization of everlasting peace.



  Loving Oneself / by Lama Zopa Rinpoche

  To love oneself is not contradictory to what Mahayana Buddhism teaches. It is not saying one should not love oneself. Renouncing oneself and cherishing others is not contradictory to loving oneself. In fact, practicing the Mahayana teaching, bodhicitta, is the best way to love oneself, to take care of oneself.

  Whatever we do with our body, speech, and mind is for happiness. Even the activities of the tiniest insects, like the ants we see running around and keeping so busy, is also to achieve happiness. By looking at ourselves and at other living beings, we can see that it is the same: whatever we do is to achieve happiness......... A "problem" is what we do not want to experience and "happiness" is what we want to achieve. With this mind one can stop the problems, can stop all the undesirable experiences, and with this mind one can achieve all the happiness. Why is this? Because problems and happiness do not come from outside. The creator of problems and happiness is oneself in past lives. Therefore, with this mind all our problems can be stopped and we can achieve temporal day-to-day happiness and ultimate happiness, full enlightenment.

  The problems of both non-religious people, those who do not have any faith, who do not meditate, and of the religious people who externally take the form of the teachings, doing prayers and so forth, even meditating, come from not understanding the meaning of loving oneself. One should give freedom to oneself, love oneself, but what does it mean? If we have a wrong understanding of this, we will always be followed by problems. In Buddhism, particularly in Mahayana Buddhism, the best way of loving oneself is to pull out the root of all problems, which is right in one's own heart: the ego, the self-centered mind. So, if one lets go of cherishmg the I, then it doesn't matter what situation one is experlencing, the problem becomes non- existent.......... The minute before there was such a serious problem, like gloom, like a mountain; but the minute you let go of the problem that makes you think, "I am going to kill myself, there is no other solution, I can't move," then the problem doesn't exist. It was so bad, but the minute you let go of this uptight, self- centered mind, the problem doesn't exist. The person still doesn't love you, doesn't treat you well, treats you badly - this is the same - but since you let go of the I, you no longer experience it as a problem. And changing one's own mind certainly can affect the other person's mind also, to help bring change, to stop their emotional negative thought.

  Without talking about the long-term result of enlightenment, what effect immediately comes into your heart by letting go of the self-centered mind? The result is peace, happiness, satisfaction. With bodhicitta you have fulfillment in your heart, you see life as more meaningful. Even if you don't know lots of Dharma,even if you only know om mani padme hung and nothing else, if you let go of the root of the problems of life, if you let go of what makes you cry all the time inside your heart like a baby, "I'm not happy, I'm not happy, I’m not happy,' you can find happiness and satifaction. No matter how much one learns Buddhadharma, no matter how much the education expands externally with words and meanings, if the mind is always crying inside the heart, "I'm not happy!" "I," "I," "I" becomes the main concern in life.

  The meaning of loving oneself then becomes loving attachment, the emotional mind. Rather than trying to get rid of this mind, one becomes a slave to attachInent, to the evil thought of the eight worldly dharmas. Then if somebody disturbs this delusion you see that as a problem. In reality this affliction is the main enemy that does not allow you to open your heart or have realizations. It won't let you achieve the ultimate freedom, to become completely liberated from all sufferings, including the cycle of death and rebirth, and the causes, karma and delusions. This affliction doesn't allow you to see emptiness of the I and blocks the wisdom that cuts the ignorance, which is the root of samsara. Not having meditated enough on the mistakes of this emotional mind, one becomes its slave. Attachment becomes the guru; you listen and follow whatever it says. Since one's definition of loving oneself is doing what attachment wants, then one is always dissatisfied, unhappy.

  Even if one has learned the whole entire Dharma, has memorized all the hundreds of volumes of sutra and tantra texts and can explain fluently, effortlessly, still the unhappy mind is the same.......... Because of this there is some danger that one can blame the Dharma. There is something wrong so the blame goes on Buddha's teachings, and this creates very heavy karma. "Something must be wrong with the Tibetan Mahayana Buddhist tradition, there must be something missing there. Why is this happening?" The reason one doesn't escape dissatisfaction is because one has not recognized the fundamental practice of Dharma. The fundamental meditations on lam-rim are left out; one doesn't pay attention to them because the mind always wants to be higher, wants to meditate on beautiful visualizations, not suffering visualizations, not the hell realms. But the meditations on the perfect human rebirth, impermanence and death, results of karma, suffering of the lower realms become essential.

  Of course we can say nice words like bodhicitta, but without first realizing renunciation of this life and future lives in samsara, there is no way to have the actual realization of bodhicitta. One can generally have a good heart, but without renunciation one cannot receive the actual realization of bodhicitta. Even if one has been practicing the completion stage practice of the Six Yogas of Naropa, without renunciation there is no bodhicitta, which is something very practical that enables us to enter the Mahayana Path and go towards enlightenment. Realizations have to happen step by step.

  Even if one doesn't know anything intellectually but the mind is free from emotional mind, one receives so much deep peace in the heart. One doesn't show excitement, doesn't do disco dancing (I'm joking!), however there is incredible peace. There is no problem with loneliness or depression, because one lets go of the self-centered mind instead of holding it like baby, like a jewel. One who lets go like this is opening the door to enlightenment, opening the door to the happiness of oneself and for every living being.

  This emotional, attached mind is your mind, and this healthy, renounced Dharma mind is also your mind. Satisfaction comes from the Dharma mind. If you follow this mind, the free mind, when somebody criticizes you it doesn't bother you, it doesn't hurt your compassion. But when you follow the attachment mind and somebody criticizes you, it bothers you, it hurts you. As you become the friend of attachment you begin to view this emotional mind as your self, your being, then when someone's criticism hurts your attachment, it appears like it is hurting you.

  If you analyze like this, whether you feel hurt or not is completely in your hands. One can use the situation to make oneself more peaceful, to bring oneself satisfaction and fulfillment; to quickly achieve realizaitions, quickly receive the path to enlishtenment.......... The whole key to transforming everything into beneficial situations, to blocking all the problems, is which mind you follow, whether you follow delusion or Dharma - your own mind the delusions; your own mind the Dharma; the ego or the bodhicitta; the attachment or the free mind. You can have the satisfied mind, which is pure Dharma. It's up to you.

The Benefits of the Existence of Statues and of Making Statues
  The Benefits of the Existence of Statues and of Making Statues / by Lama Zopa Rinpoche

  Having faith in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, we have the opportunity to accumulate inconceivable merit, to create the cause of enlightenment for oneself and for other sentient beings equaling the infinite sky, by making holy objects and by making offerings to these holy objects.

  Success in life generally depends on how much merit a person has accumulated, as does success in particular practices such as the Six Yogas of Naropa in order to achieve the ultimate happiness of liberation and enlightenment, especially enlightenment. The whole of one's success depends on how much merit one has accumulated. The whole question concerns merit, how much merit one has accumulated. To actualize bodhicitta, emptiness, tantra, or even the fundamental realizations of the lam-rim path, you have to be very fortunate, which means you have to have accumulated a lot of merit in the past. So it is wise to attempt to create the cause for success as much as possible in our everyday life......... Manjushri asked Buddha, "One Gone Beyond, now you are the only object to whom sentient beings can make offering. After you pass into the sorrowless state, what will sentient beings do? How will they accumulate merit when they can't see Buddha any more? Please advise us."

  Buddha answered, "My four followers, there is not one single difference between making offerings to me now and in the future, with devotion, making offerings to my reflections. The merit is equal and the result is equal." The "four followers" refers specifically to the fully ordained monks, the fully ordained nuns, the getsuls and the getsulmas, the disciples closest to Buddha, but generally it includes all of us sentient beings who do not have the karma to see the actual living Buddha. We have only the karma to see Buddha's reflections: the symbolic representations of Buddha, such as statues, paintings and so forth.

  Buddha is saying that even though we cannot see the actual Buddha, if we make offerings to these holy objects symbolic of Buddha, the merit is equal to that of actually seeing Buddha and making offerings. It is not that the merit of those who met Shakyamuni Buddha in ancient times and were able to make offerings to him is not more than that of offering merely to a statue of Buddha. The result is exactly the same. This is very important to understand and very important to remember in our daily life. When we offer our food and drink, when we make offerings on the altar, whenever we do the practice of offering in our everyday life, we should feel great happiness.

  Then Buddha said, "This is due to the blessings of Buddha. This is the reality but ordinary beings whose minds are undeveloped cannot see these benefits." "This is due to the blessings of Buddha" means that making offerings to statues has the same result due to the power of the holy object. Further reasons as to how the benefits of making offerings to Buddha and the statues of Buddha are the same are mentioned in the Guhyasamaja root text.

  Then it says, "A stupa is a palace where all the Buddhas are abiding." So this is the same with a monastery. The benefits exist as long as the monastery exists. And also the benefits you receive equal the number of atoms of the stupa or monastery. You do not necessarily have to build a monastery. Building even one shrine room—a place where Buddha abides, where holy objects of Buddha abide—has many benefits. It's important to understand these benefits of the holy objects, the various opportunities we have to create the cause of happiness by accumulating extensive merit with these holy objects.......... The text says, "Those sentient beings who do not have the fortune actually to meet the Buddha need the holy objects of body, speech and mind as the field in which to accumulate merit. These holy objects are necessary."

  The existence of Buddha's teachings for a long time depends on the existence of the holy objects of Buddha. The teachings exist in the mind so how can they depend for their existence on the existence of these external holy objects? You have to think about this, you have to understand this. It is not easy to have the teachings in the mind. To have the scriptural understanding and the realizations of the teachings is not easy. For these, you need to have a lot of merit. The most powerful merit one can accumulate, and accumulate so easily, is in relation to holy objects of Buddha. By making statues of Buddha and making offerings to statues of Buddha, one accumulates infinite, inconceivable merit that immediately becomes a cause of enlightenment. Every merit accumulated by making statues and by making offerings to statues immediately becomes the cause of enlightenment. Without doubt, every single one becomes a cause of enlightenment.......... By accumulating such infinite merit in this way, one is able to develop the mind, one is able to understand the teachings, one is able not only to attempt the practices of listenlng to, reflecting and meditating on the teachings, but to complete them. All this has to come from merit. So you can see how the existence of the teachings for a long time depends on the existence of the holy objects. The existence and flourishing of the teachings depend on the existence of the holy objects.

  Buddhism has started in the West only recently. Because one sees the problems of life, there is much desire for mind-peace, and this longing leads to much interest in meditation. This is common among Westerners. But because Buddhism has just started in the West there is not so much regard for holy objects. In countries where Buddhism is established, especially Mahayana Buddhist countries such as Tibet and Nepal, much effort is put into creating many conditions for oneself and others to accumulate merit actualizing holy objects, in those countries everybody, whether great yogis, sangha or lay practitioners, puts effort into this way of accumulating merit for the self and so many other sentient beings. Other sentient beings also accumulate merit by making offerings to or circumambulating these holy objects.......... This is why these countries have so many holy objects: so many monasteries, so many stupas, so many statues. For example, sight-seeing in Tibet is only a cause to purify and to accumulate merit because wherever you go you see only holy objects: statues, scriptures, yogis' caves.

  Gradually, as you understand lam-rim and especially the practice of Jorcho more and more, the more you see the importance of holy objects, not only for your own happiness but for the many benefits they bring to so many other sentient beings. With these holy objects, they create the cause of success and happiness. Because these holy objects exist, sentient beings make offerings to them, pray to them. This helps them to create the cause of happiness, and this is how they experience happiness up to the highest happiness of enlightenment. Because the temporary and ultimate happiness of yourself and others depends on the existence of holy objects, there is a purpose in making them.



Liberation and Enlightenment
  Liberation and Enlightenment / by Lama Zopa Rinpoche

  BL: Rinpoche, in Malaysia we have Buddhists from various traditions. Can one learn and practice different traditions?

  LZR: Yes, definitely. We can learn from both Theravada and Mahayana. It is really a question of our mental capacity and intelligence to absorb the Dharma. We need to know our motivations—are we seeking enlightenment for ourselves or for the sake of other sentient beings? Having a tradition to follow is iportant but more important is to learn from qualified teachers—and it doesn't matter whether Theravada or Mahayana.......... If the practitioner is merely seeking liberation from samsara for himself, then he needs to learn and practice the meditation which will lead him onto the full path to liberation. But if his aim is to achieve enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings, then he needs to learn the full path to enlightenment. In this case there are additional meditation practices taught in the Mahayana teachings.......... To practice and have realizations on the path to enlightenment involves several levels. Firstly, there is the graduated path of middle capable beings, secondly, the graduated path of higher capable beings and finally the four levels of Mahayana Tantra. Very basic to the Mahayana practice is the development of bodhicitta, which is the door to enlightenment.......... However, you can't realize bodhicitta without first realizing the renunciation of samsara. We need of course to realize the graduated path of middle-capable beings, that is, to be free from samsara. The realization is that the nature of samsara is suffering, that there is not one second of pure happiness. In order to have this realization one needs to practice renunciation. This is also found in the Theravada teachings. In order to achieve this realization to be free from samsara, there are again various stages. This comes firstly from realizing the Four Noble Truths. When one practices renunciation, one develops a detached mind to this life and also to future lives in samsara. With this realization that the nature of samsara is suffering, it also becomes the basis to develop compassion.

  BL: Rinpoche, in your book The Door to Satisfaction you mention the three levels of happiness— happiness in future lives, liberation from samsara (release from karma and bondage) and enlightenment. Why is liberation from samsara different from enlightenment?

  LZR: Too achieve liberation from samsara there are five paths: the path of accumulating merits, the preparatory path, the right seeing path, the path of meditation and the path of no-more learning. To be liberated from samsara is to achieve arhatship.......... By achieving the right seeing path we remove 112 delusions to do with the desire realm, form realm and formless realm. Then through the path of meditation one removes sixteen obscurations and delusions. With this one attains arhatship. That's nirvana in the sense of having ceased completely all the causes of suffering, karma and delusion. However, there are still obscurations, but they are very subtle. They obstruct the arhat's mind even though he has tremendous psychic powers. Unlike the Buddha, the arhat is not able to see directly everything at the same time. An arhat does not have an omniscient mind; that's the quality of a Buddha, one who has completely destroyed all subtle obscurations.

  In Mahayana teachings, wisdom arises when all obscurations are removed, not only gross obscurations but even the subtle ones. The wisdom to remove the subtle obscurations comes through the development of bodhicitta. With this the wisdom realizing emptiness is able to destroy the subtle obscurations. It's like washing cloth. First you wash the black, dirty part. Then there is still some smell and stain left. even that is washed. Eventually the cloth becomes completely cleaned. It becomes as clear as a mirror. We all have the Buddha nature in our mind when the subtle obscurations are removed.

  BL: Rinpoche, you mentioned that no matter what action we do, it is extremely important to have the right motivation. Can we interpret this to mean having the right intention?

  LZR: Yes, yes.

  BL: Rinpoche said that if gamblin, for example, is done with pure motivation it will also become pure Dharma. How could an action like gambling which is rooted in delusion and greed be a pure action?

  LZR: If you gamble with the intention that with the money you win you want to help refugees, hospitals or poor and starving people, the motivation is compassion to benefit others. If one truly has a pure attitude then the action becomes Dharma.

  BL: But wouldn't gambling be an unskillful action, even if one gambles to help others?

  LZR: The natural action of gambling is itself clean. If it is done with compaassion and the intention is to use the money to benefit others, then it is wisdom. Knowing that it is done with compassion for others it becomes Dharma. There is both compassion and wisdom.

  BL: Rinpoche, you mentioned that to practice Dharma we have to constantly think of impermanence and death. Wouldn't this lead one to develop a morbid attitude to life. Isn't this negative?

  LZR: Actually, Buddhism is very positive. Bodhicitta makes life unbelievably beneficial. Not only can one achieve an Y happiness one wishes, one can also cause many: others to be happy and help create the cause for enlightenment. That Is the beauty of Dharma. With bodhicitta we get great fulfillment and satisfaction in whatever we do, be it our career, doing a retreat and practicing Dharma or spending leisure time with the family. So there is beauty and joy in life. The Buddha's teaching is always positive.......... For instance in the Lam-rim teachings there is mention of the preciousness of human life. It explains how we can achieve happiness in future lives, liberation from samsara and achievement of ultimate enlightenment. Each of these happinesses is more precious than a mountain of diamonds or a whole sky filled with millions of dollars. So we look at this life as precious and wonderful. We then begin to ask how this human birth can give such unbelievable opportunity for us to realize our Buddha nature. All these opportunities create the cause for our happiness and that of numberless other sentient beings. Well, that's the beauty of life.......... But we also need to face reality. For instance, if we want to buy gold we need to differentiate the real from the false. If we don't we may end up cheated and regret our actions. Similarly, we need to understand the reality of existence and recognize that impermanence, disease and old age are part of life. The nature of samsara is the reality of life. Rather than ignoring it, it is better to learn about its true nature and be aware of it. This will make us develop the strong inspiration to be free from samsara.

  BL: What is the final spiritual goal for Buddhists?

  LZR: The final spiritual goal for Buddhists is enlightenment. But firstly we must learn to see attachment and clinging as the main cause of suffering, like a chain which continuously ties us to samsara. Then there will arise a strong renunciation of the suffering realms of samsara. The Dharma practitioner will want to seek lasting happiness and not temporary happiness. This is seeking final liberation from the suffering of samsara. With this realization of samsara we will enter the path to full liberation or enlightenment.......... It is also Important for Buddhist to note that the very purpose of our life is to benefit other sentient beings. That is our ultimate spiritual goal in life. We practice meditation so that we can develop ourselves spiritually in order that we can make ourselves useful for other sentient beings. When we develop bodhicitta we cherish this life, take care of it and keep it busy for the benefit of others. Realizing; that the nature of life is impermanence and suffering will have incredible benefits; it is the basic meditation that we can use to immediately cut the emotional problems of the mind. When the mind is completely overwhelmed by desires and we don’t get what we want, anger will arise to harm oneself and others, including family, friends and other sentient beings. But by realizing that the reality of life is suffering we begin go see that there is no point to follow our emotional mind. This is the understanding that the reality of life is suffering as explained in the Four Noble Truths.



Remembering Death
  Remembering Death / by Lama Zopa Rinpoche

  Reflecting on impermanence and death in itself is not really a big deal, but thinking about it because of what follows after the death is important. If there is negative karma, then there are the lower realms of unimaginable sufferings, and this is something that can be stopped immediately.

  We cannot be liberated from samsara within this hour, today, this week or even this year, but we can purify negative karma now, this hour today, and therefore stop being reborn in the lower realms if we die now, this hour, today. This is possible.

  By remembering impermanence and death, karma and the lower realms of suffering, the mind is persuaded to use the solution of Dharma practice. Immediately the mind prepares for death. Immediately it purifies the heavy negative karmas that cause one to remain in the lower realms, where there are unimaginable sufferings and no possibility to practice Dharma.

  Whenever there are problmes in our lives it is always good to remember the lower realms of suffering. We can't stand the problems we have now, but the lower realms of suffering are a zillion, zillion, zillion times greater, like the sky. If we put together all the energy of fire, no matter how hot, it is cool compared to one tiny fire spark of hell. All the energy of this human world's fire put together is cool compared to one tiny fire spark of the hell realm. Like this, it's always good to make a comparison.

  Beings possessing a human body who haven't met Dharma, no matter how much wealth they have, no matter how may friends they have, no matter how much they appear to be enjoying their lives, in reality are only living with hallucination; they are living with wrong concepts, so many piles of wrong concepts. They are not aware of what is happening to them, they are not aware of their own life. They are not aware of the powers of their hallucination, the piles of wrong concepts that compel them to create the causess of samsara and the causes of the lower realms. They don't have the opportunity to plant the seed to be free from samsara, to cut the root of samsaric ignorance, because there is no understanding of emptiness, no opportunity to meditate on emptiness.

  If a person has a good heart, a sincere mind, and gives some help to others without expecting any results, then maybe they create some pure Dharma—and that's very rare; otherwise not. Usually people live the life only with a worldly mind, particularly attachment, clinging to this life. They use the whole human life, the precious human body and all their education just to create additional causes to go to the lower realms.......... This is what is happening in every day life. For the entire life people act like a moth attracted to the flame, completely hallucinated, completely deceived, not knowing the flame will burn, that it is completely other than what it appears. Even though they get burned, while they still have the power to fly they will continue to go towards the flame.......... It is exactly the same with a fish and a baited hook. The fish does not know that there is a hook that cheats, leading to death and unbelievable suffering. Having no idea of the danger, it is constatnly being drawn with strong desire toward the hook baited with a piece of meat. The result that the fish experiences is completely other than what it expected. Once caught, there is no way to get away alive.

  Following the dissatisfied mind, desire, the worldly mind, brings exactly the same result. Once sunk in the quagmire of the activities of this life, it is difficult to escape the hundreds of different problems, emotional pains of the mind and of the body that come from this one root, the dissatisfied mind, desire, attachment, clinging to this life. All we are doing is making samsara longer by creating karma; we are making a donation, a contribution to samsaric suffering, making it longer and longer. And then, of course, there are the sufferings of the lower realms, which are difficult to get out of.

  It's the same with the way in which an elephant can be caught. A female elephant is used as a lure, the male elephant becomes crazy with disire and as a result, becomes trapped inside a cage. What was expected in the beginning was happiness, but what was received in the end was something else, something completely frightening.

  All these examples show us the way in which samsara and the samsaric perfections cheat us, that they are not to be trusted. Therefore always remembering impermanence and death becomes so essential. Reflecting on impermanence and death makes life highly meaningful, and so quickly and so powerfully destroys the delusions and seed imprint. It is very easy to meditate on and one can cease the delusions. It leads one to begin to practice Dharma, and to continue and complete the practice.

  Anger / by Lama Zopa Rinpoche

  Emptiness is a remedy for the foundation of all delusions—ignorance—so all the other delusions will disappear. The minute one meditates on emptiness, anger for example, will stop. Anger arises when you believe in the false I, false object—all this that does not exist. So when one meditates on emptiness of the self and other objects, there is no foundation for anger. This is the most powerful antidote. But if it arises again, it is because there is no continuation of the meditation; the meditation, the mindfulness, has stopped. The problem is to remember the technique. Once you remember the technique, it always works. When you don't remember the technique, it is delayed and the delusion, anger and so forth, has already arisen and taken you over.

  One thing I tell people is always to think about karma. His Holiness always says Buddhists don't believe in God. This basic Buddhist philosophy helps you remember there is no separate mind outside of yours that creates your life, creates you karma. Whatever happens in one's own life comes from one's own mind. These aggregates, all the views of the senses, all of the feelings happiness, sadness and so forth—your whole world comes from your consciousness. The imprints of past good karma and negative karma left on the consciousness manifest, become actualized. The imprints to have human body, senses, views, aggregates, all the feelings—everything is realized at this time, and all of it comes from consciousness, from karma.

  If your meditation on emptiness is not effective, this teaching of karma is very powerful for us ordinary beings. The minute one meditates on karma, there is no room in the mind for anger because there is nothing to blame. Thinking of karma is practicing the basic Buddhist philosophy that there is no creator other than your mind. It is not only a philosophy but a very powerful technique. Anger is based on believing in a creator: somebody created this problem; this happened because of this person. In daily life, when a problem arises, instead of practicing the philosophy of no creator, we act as if there is a creator, that the problem was created by somebody else. Even if we don't use the word God, we still believe someone else created the problem. The minute you think of karma and realize there is no creator, there is no basis for the anger.

  We need to think: In the past I gave such a harm to sentient beings, therefore I deserve to receive this harm from another sentient being. When you get angry what you are actually saying is you can harm others, but you feel that you should not receive harm from others. This is very illogical. So in this practice you say, 'I deserve this harm.'......... Another practice is to use this situation to develop compassion: I received this harm because of my karma. Who started all this? It's not because of the other person, it's because of your own actions. You treated other sentient beings this way in the past, that is why you receive harm now; your karma persuaded the person to harm you now. Now this person has a human birth and they harm you because of something you inspired in the past. By harming you now they are creating more negative karma to lose their human rebirth and to be reborn in lower realms. Didn't I make that person get lost in the lower realms?

  In this way you are using that problem to generate bodhicitta. This means one is able to develop the whole Mahayana path to enlightenment, including the Six Paramitas, whether sutra path or tantra path. One can cease all mistakes of the mind and achieve full enlightenment. Due to the kindness of that person you are able to generate compassion, free sentient beings from all the sufferings, to bring enlightenment, to cause perfect happiness for all sentient beings.......... One can also think in this way: by practicing compassion on that person, one is able to generate compassion towards all sentient beings. This person, who is so kind, so precious, is helping you stop harming all sentient beings, and on top of that, to receive help from you. By not receiving harm from you, peace and happiness come; also, by receiving help from you, numberless sentient get peace and happiness. All this peace and happiness that you are able to offer all sentient beings comes from this person.......... Similarly, one can practice patience in this way and is able to cease anger. In the Kadampas' advice, there are six techniques for practicing patience; I don't need to go over all that now. They are good to memorize, to write down in a notebook, in order to use.

  Another thing that is very good is what Pabongka Rinpoche explains in Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand: generally speaking one doesn't get angry at the stick that the person used to beat you. The stick itself is used by the person, so therefore there is no point in getting angry at the stick. Similarly, the person's body, speech and mind are completely used by the anger, by the delusion. The person's body, speech and mind become like a slave, completely used as a tool of the anger. The person themself has no freedom at all—no freedom at all. So therefore, since the person has no freedom at all, they should become an object of our compassion. Not only that, one must take responsibility to pacify that person's anger. By whatever means you can find, help the person's mind, pacify the anger; even if there is nothing you can do, pray to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha to pacify the person's mind.

  What His Holiness teaches is to meditate on how that person is kind, how that person is precious like Dharma, precious like Buddha, precious like Guru; kind like Buddha, like Guru. The conclusion is that if no one has anger towards us, we can never develop patience. If everybody loves us then we can never generate the precious quality of patience, the path of patience. So therefore there is an incredible need in our life for someone to have anger towards us. It is so precious, so important that someone has anger towards us. It's not precious for that person, but for us it's very precious. For that person it's torturous, it's like living in the lower realms. But for us, that person having anger towards us is so precious. We have a great need for this, a great need.......... It's important that someone loves you, but it is even more important that someone has anger towards you. You see, if someone loves you it does not help you benefit numberless sentient beings or actualize the entire path to enlightenment. So why is this person the most precious thing to me. Because they are angry with you. To you, this person's anger is like a wish-granting jewel.

  Also, your anger destroys merit, destroys your happiness, not only in day-to-day life but in long term happiness. As Bodhicaryavatara mentions, one moment of anger delays realizations for one thousand eons. Anger is a great obstacle, especially for bodhicitta realizations. Therefore, because this person is angry towards me, I am able to develop patience and overcome my own anger and complete the entire path to enlightenment. One can complete the two types of merit, cease all the obscurations, achieve enlightenment, and free all sentient beings and lead them to enlightenment.



Bad and Good
  Bad and Good Depend on the Individual Person's Interpretation / by Lama Zopa Rinpoche

  Bad and good depend on the individual person's interpretation. In general, if you are able to spend your life collecting more virtue and less negative karma, that's a good life. Even spending half the life this way is quite good. Spending even one quarter of the day creating good karma is better than spending the whole 24 hours creating only negative karma. So today, if you are able to create more virtue than negative karma, that's a good life. Even though you might be exhausted, even though you might have almost died from practicing Dharma, you had a good life today.

  Naropa, for example, had to experience the 12 great hardships and the 12 small hardships under the advice of Tilopa. And Marpa would not allow Milarepa to come to teachings and initiations; he received scoldings and beatings only, no sweet words like "you are such a good disciple" or "you have done excellent practice"; he only received Marpa's wrathful aspect. Then Milarepa had to build a nine-story tower by himself, alone, and not just once; he had to tear it down and build it three times. Because of doing these intensive preliminary practices and following exactly his guru Marpa's advice without having any negative thoughts towards him, Milarepa became enlightened in that life.......... That's the best life, you see, the best life. The definition of a bad life and a good life is very important, because if you don't know you will be very confused; if your connotation is wrong you will go in the wrong direction. The result of this will be no attainment, no realization. The result will be that the mind is empty.

  There is an interpretation of bad and good life according to attachment, according to ego. Then there is an interpretation of bad and good life according to the point of view of Dharma wisdom, the wisdom understanding karma, understanding lam-rim. Of course, they are totally opposite.

  The common thing in the world is to follow the interpretation according to attachment. So if one has more success, more wealth, more external development, then that's regarded as a good life: more and more things, more friends, more children, then grandchildren, then their children—the more there is happening, the more successful the life. So that's one view.

  Of course, everyone is looking for peace of mind and satisfaction in the heart, but they have no idea how to get it. Their methods are through external development only. Even though they really want peace and satisfaction, because of lack of spiritual education, Dharma education, they don't have methods, they don't have knowledge of practice. So they end up just as the Rolling Stones sang: "I can't get no satisfaction." So from my point of view, unless you have renounced attachment you will not find satisfaction. You could be living in life-time retreat, or in the monastery or nunnery following the moral disciplines, having sacrificed a lot of the pleasures of this life, a lot of comfort, in order to live in pure morality, but if the mind is still suffering, it's because it didn't renounce attachment, it is not separated from attachment clinging to this life. You didn't make the mind free, so the mind becomes friends with attachment clinging to this life, the mind associates with the thought of the eight worldly dharmas.

  Therefore, even if the body is in retreat or in the monastery, the mind cannot enjoy following the moral discipline or the meditation practices. There's no peace, no happiness in the heart. As the mind has become friends with attachment, you cannot give up this life's comfort to practice Dharma. Then it gets difficult to follow the advice of the virtuous friend, it gets difficult to do service for the monastery, for the monks and nuns, and it's difficult to serve other sentient beings.......... Even though there is not yet any happiness in the mind because you have the attitude of attachment clinging to this life—you're stuck with that, not with Dharma—nevertheless, your mind is protected from obstacles because you are trying, you are practicing morality. Then you can have great peace and can practice Dharma without obstacles. It's the same with somebody doing long retreat, or someone who's serving the virtuous friend or other sentient beings. What I am saying is that even though your motivation is more stuck with attachment and even though you mightn't experience any happiness in your heart yet, it is still a good life because your practice of morality brings good results, a good rebirth in the next life. Even though your mind is not completely pure, even though the mind is not completely renounced, it is still a good life.

  Of course, it takes time for this to happen. You need very intense and continuous meditation, especially on impermanence and death related to karma and the lower realms, and the general suffering of samsara, particularly the lower realms, and the preliminary meditation, the perfect human body, how it is highly useful and difficult to achieve again.......... Or you could do the opposite: give up this life and think, "Oh, it didn't make me happy." After many years of practicing and studying Dharma—philosophy, highest tantra, anything that can be explained by qualified teachers—after all that I didn't find happiness, so I'd better try something else." You give up everything, and what you tried to abandon before, for all those years, now you have all of them. You are without rule, without discipline—you become a free guy.

  So now you have a lot of physical comfort, wealth, friends and so on and you believe you have enjoyment; in fact it is a hallucination because the uncontrolled mind is the motivation. When you don't think of the motivation and the future karmic result, this new life appears as pleasure. But if you think of the motivation and karmic result, then you realize it is not really a happy life.......... What I am saying is that, according to my interpretation, a happy life is when you have a good motivation and your actions bring good results. As I mentioned before, Naropa and Milarepa had so much hardship but it brought a fantastic future, the best future. So that is the best life.

  But in the West the interpretation of a good life is whether or not it makes me happy now. Now! This moment. Today. One is involved in the psychology of cherishing oneself, which gives you so much inspiration that you are important. But practicing Dharma is not rejecting yourself, it's actually the best way to take care of yourself.

  Practicing renunciation helps you become liberated from samsara, so that's what you need, otherwise you experience suffering again and again, without end. And practicing the right view, emptiness: that's the best way of taking care of yourself because it cuts the root of suffering. And what else do you need? What is better than this? What else is there that is better than this?

  Therefore we must rejoice that we have met the precious Buddhadharma, especially lam-rim, the integration of the entire 84,000 teachings of the Buddha, and that without any confusion we can practice and achieve enlightenment.

  Besides all this, we are able to do so much service for other sentient beings. Without talking about meditating on the stages of the path, practicing purifying negative karma, collecting merits, without that. Therefore we should rejoice.



  Buddhist Attitude to Life / by Lama Choedak

  I am extermely happy to be given the opportunity to come and share with you the contribution Buddhism could make to better the well being of human society. Tonight we have come together to discuss the benefits of sincere sharing of good things we value in our society in general and particularly religion. Those of us who believe in one or another religion have seen the benefits of religious practices if and when we practise them properly ourselves. We have also seen the danger and suffering which come out of direct misuse of religious beliefs, power and religious fanaticism. The benefit or harm caused by religion in everyday life is not in the merit or demerit of the religions. It is entirely dependent on the behaviours of the people who profess themselves to be religious. Since the problems of the world are created by human beings they can only be corrected by human beings, by properly following the fundamental principles of human values, taught and practised by wise men and women of the world. Let us not be in the illusion that there were only one or few such wise people who came as saviours of the world. We must credit ourselves and thank others for the good things we enjoy in life and be responsible for the bad things we experience. According to Buddhism, religion or "the Dharma" is no more than a raft or a path for people who wish to journey on it. If we have an accident on the road it is not the road's fault and if we travel well, we do not thank the road. However if we stand in the middle of the road and tell other people that they do not know how to walk, that is not just an accident, it is sheer arrogance and ignorance. I have come here to share with you the Buddhist perspective and how its fundamental ideas and practices can benefit individuals and our society at large. Buddhism and its teachings respects all other religions and in fact, in Buddhism, it is a transgression to speak ill of anybody or a group of people or their philosophical or religious ideas. Condemning other people or their religion is considered non-religious conduct and is an idle-talk which is one of the ten non-virtues deeds one must abandone. There is no devil outside other than one's own inability to accept and respect other religions. There is no external god other than the kindness and compassion that can flow through us to other living beings. A mother dog who shows her kindness to her puppy is a much better example of compassion for one to emulate than propagating teachings which discriminate against colour, race, religion or gender. If one religion cannot tolerate another how can it teach to tolerate anything in this world? Religious intolerance and narrow-mindedness among church and religious leaders have let down many of their adherents who call themselves "free thinkers". These are not the benefits of religious practice but the failure to understand and practise religion. Over the years I have met many people who wish to be identified as "free thinkers" rather than belonging to any religious denomination. Many regard religion as that which narrows their thinking and limits their freedom to reason. Many modern thinkers, who have otherwise distanced themselves from strict religious dogma have become attracted to the Buddhist way of life and its powerful ideas, have regarded Buddhism as a way of life rather than a religion. Many Australians I have known, who consider themselves as Buddhists have become interested in Buddhism and have adopted its non-pressured approach to life, mainly because they do not have to believe in things they have not examined and experienced themselves. They are taught to think for themselves rather than have a blind faith in something and are not even allowed to think of it logically. They are encouraged to find a safe way for themselves rather than accept the one and only ready-made highway. There is no one highway to enlightenment, but there are different footsteps of past masters we can follow if we wish. Learn from everybody and every circumstance and take what it means most to you, but let us not be over-ambitious and try to make a highway to lead everyone. This is how the seeds of religious fanaticism are planted. Several years ago there was a big inter-religious conference in London which was represented by all major religions. Buddhism was represented by a Sri Lankan monk. The conference was held in a beautiful Church and most of those attending were Christians. All the speakers sat on the stage and the Sri Lankan monk who was the smallest in physical size was asked to speak first. The first remark he made was nothing but a few minutes of total silence and the people in the audience thought he was not going to say anything and the Master of the Ceremony acted rather anxiously. Then the monk smiled towards the Master of the ceremony and nodded as if he was going to say something after all and then he said: "I am sorry, Ladies and Gentlemen, there is no God". Well, I am not going to repeat it here but such comments do raise questions as to what Buddhism is all about and the role of Buddha for Buddhists. To be frank Buddha was a great critic of the idea of creation of the world by some supreme God-Head and the idea of the original sin and eternal heaven and hell. To the Buddha, most important thing was "now", the present moment and how we go from here rather than what happened in the past and what might or will happen in the future. Past is gone and future is not yet due except what we are creating now. He did this not out of believing in some theory but examining it for himself through analysis and rationality. Buddha came up with four fundamental principles which he thought was univeral to all human problems. Even to his most faithful disciples, the Buddha after his enlightenment, warned of the danger of "blind faith" and asked them not to believe everything what he said just because he taught them. He emphasised the importance of individuals to test and examine the authenticity of his teaching through personal experience, not through mere belief.

  These four principles are called the four Noble Tuths. The first is called the Truth of Suffering (Dukkha Satya). When people face suffering in their lives, the first thing they do is deny it, reject it and worst of all they try to avoid it. This he said was the obvious reason why we suffer in life, because we fail to see the truth, the meaning and its purpose of suffering. Although nobody desires suffering, they always get it, not because of the suffering itself, but because they fail to apply the correct antidote to the problem. He explained that people fail to apply the antidotes to their suffering, not because they do not want to but because they do not know the causes of the suffering. We think that the cause of our problem is something or someone outside us and this, he says "is barking up the wrong tree" as the saying goes. We must remember that suffering is a mental phenomenon and it can only be changed or eliminated by correct perception and transformation of our mental attitude. For instance if a person called John loves his friend Barry, and Barry has become very fond of Chris, who John dislikes, John will be upset. This experience of upset, John believes is due to the behaviour of his friend Barry who has become fond of Chris. But if we examine it carefully, the cause of upset is largely due to John's own dislike, resentment and hatred towards Chris, rather than the relationship of Barry and Chris. If friendship is to be admired and desired, then one must be able to rejoice in other's friendship. That which is causing John to be upset is because of his feeling of insecurity and jealousy provoked by his own anger which he had not dealt with effectively in the past. Let me elaborate this from the point of view of the importance of solving a problem at hand rather than of the distant past.

  If a man is shot by an arrow into his eyes, what should he do? Most people fail to remove the arrow struck in their eyes but instead waste time trying to apprehend and convict the accused. They are more interested to find out what happened before the arrow struck in the eye than to remove the arrow from the eyes. If the hurt is caused by the arrow in the eye, then obviously the arrow must be removed first. But we don't. We want to find out the beginning of the problem how it all started from scratch, i.e. "the creation". The spillover of this way of dealing with suffering is so epidemic and extremely hard to overcome. We deny and disapprove of the hurt that we have already experienced and attempt to bring similar if not heavier hurt upon someone else, whether proven guilty or innocent. Blaming the past and the way we were treated in our childhood, by our parents does not address the problem at hand but makes the individual feel more resentful towards their past to the extent of developing self-hatred. This takes us to the second Truth, the truth of the origin of the suffering.

  In Buddhism, the basic ignorance, greed and hatred in our minds are called "the three poisons". The benefits of religious practice can only be appreciated if individuals take full responsibility for their own poisons of the mind. The events of the past are not happening now, except by oneself playing it back in one's own mind. We can see how our mental problems are created from small factors. To reduce or eliminate suffering caused by one's own poisons of the mind, one must not see them as bad or eternally evil. People who do not know anything about poison become its victims. There are also large numbers of people who know the danger of the poisons of the mind but they suppress them without becoming able to detoxify them. Familiarity and undertsanding of this second truth is crucial to be able to do something about the upset which I referred to earlier. When we become aware that all human beings are victims of their own poisons of the mind, we have no time to become angry at the other person, but instead we feel empathy for the other person. This feeling of empathy brings ourselves to the same level as the other person and become more connected. By doing this we will not dwell in our own misery to deepen and enlarge it, but it sharpens one's focus on the other person's needs. If the cause of the hurt is the event of the past, it has already gone and is not happening now except oneself playing it back in one's own mind as if it was unforgettable. The moment we express our feelings and care for the other person, we will discover that he is in a similar if not worse mental state than we were. There will be an instant cure of the hurt that one has been experiencing out of misunderstanding. This changes the mental climate of anger into compassion and one will feel powerful to bring this change in one's mind without feeling powerless and hopeless. His Holiness the Dalai Lama has said that anger does not help us to solve the problem at hand, but robs us of our sleep, appetite and make us unable to appreciate the good things we have in life. Compassion is taught in all religions but compassion without wisdom is likened in Buddhism to a bird with only one wing. While we all believe in compassion and its virtues, we mustn't use anything to impose upon others in the name of compassion. If someone does not want our compassion, we must have the wisdom to accept the rejection of our compassion but at the same time not to be discouraged by such experiences. This raises the importance and need of balance and moderation in whatever we do in our lives, be it religious, compassionate or otherwise. If we go into extremes, religion can bring more suffering than it can benefit the world, as we all know. There are certain things we should not be too certain about. So let the law of cause and effect take its own course of reality. Some things we just have to accept. They will change in their own time for nothing is permanent in the world. No matter how hurtful it may have been, it will pass or it mustn't have happened at all. So do not dwell on the past whether good or bad for it may obscure the good things which surrounds you now. The ability to maintain the mind in a free and accepting state is an art of happiness, joy and love. This is called the truth of the path, the third noble truth. It is also the path known as "The Middle Way (Madyam marga). This comprises of eight fold paths: 1. Right View: All things are in a state of dissatisfaction, whether you are young or old, have a partner or do not have a partner, or you have a job or do not have a job and so forth. Even if you obtain something you desire, it will never remain the same as all things are impermanent. If we wish things were permanent instead, you are asking for more trouble. If you are enjoying this meeting, that is because it was not here before and it will soon be over. If we sit here longer than it is comfortable, we will be in heaps of trouble, so we must move on. Reflection on the law of impermanence can resuscitate you when you are short of breath in certain problems of life and help to cultivate right view. 2. Right Thought: Through the correct attitude that things are not as real, satisfactory and durable as it appears or we want them to be, it will enable us to let go of things so we can become more flexible and less rigid and thus experience less stress. This helps us to sort out the thoughts and to get rid of certain thoughts which are harmful to dwell on. Certain thoughts such as kindness, impermanence and compassion towards other living beings can become a very powerful way of directing one's energy. Lots of the sufferings come from one's selfishness and the unability to think of positive things. Therefore it is important to choose the right things to think about. We see and hear what is in our mind. 3. Right Concentration: This way we will sort out the priorities in our lives and we will not waste time on trivial matters. There will be a sense of focus and discipline in life which will inject much needed motivation to live and help others rather than cherish for one's own welfare. This requires the adoption of a practice of meditation which one should learn from qualified teachers; not from books or people who have not invested devotion and faith in teachers, and lineage in which such teachings are kept, but teach from books without any experience and authority. Like a camera, one's mind has to be carefully focussed through attentive concentrated meditation to see the clear picture of reality as it is. If the camera of mind is out of focus, then our mental lens will project the incompetence of the cameraman who may in turn blame the object for being too close or far. His picture will be unclear if any. 4. Right Action: One will have the ability to restrain one's senses (particularly when things are going into extremes) and refrain from inflicting lots of unnecessary suffering by sheer carelessness and indulgence. By conserving all the physical energy one will carefully utilise them to benefit others but not to cause any injury to their life, health, property and relationship. A person practising right action, who is able to give so much to others enjoy good health and will be full of energy. He will not feel worn out or exhausted. 5. Right Speech: Excercising restaint over one's physical energy will enable one to conserve one's energy. So much suffering in our lives are created by our mouth's Karma. So if we understand the meaning of right speech we should watch out for our mouth. Go for a short retreat and see how much peace there is in silence and see how much garbage we talk every day. Gain some power over your speech so that no hurtful words will slip out of your mouth. Say what is good for the many and that which is only truthful and helpful. When you do this, you will hear both praise and blame as the echo of voidness and oneself will be unaffected by other's verbal abuse. Rather they will become objects of compassion. 6. Right Livelihood: This world is for all creatures not just for human beings and the powerful ones. We must give a fair go and act decently towards other living beings. It is not considered clever to take advantage of others who are weaker than ourselves. Cultivate the ability to treat others with respect as an individual just as oneself desires to be happy. Think of animals and their welfare if you cannot deal too many unruly human beings. Focus on what you can do without causing direct harm on others and share things you have with others who need them most. Give to the needy and do not hoard wealth for it will only become one's own prison and create many enemies. You can not take anything with you when you die anyway. 7. Right Mindfulness: We know we should be fair to others but without deliberate mindfulness we are often very forgetful to do the very things we want to do ourselves. We may become angry with ourselves just because we were not mindful enough to bring the key left on the table before closing the door. You may become very cranky and may have a very hard day at work. This will create a very bad working environment for your colleagues who will blame it on your temper and so forth. Mindfulness practice requires consistent daily meditation practice on how to integrate it into every day life. In one Sutra it says: "One with mindfulness is happy and one without is unhappy". 8. Right Effort: One must be diligent to change one's habitual patterns. Just as weight conscious people get up early in the morning to jog and do excerice, likewise one who is concious of the actual health of mind, one must employ right effort to break the negative habitual pattern of one's attitude to life and its problems. The effort to come here tonight can be regarded as right effort but we must implement what we have learnt from this meeting tonight. You do not learn these things in school, college, univeristy, on the soccer field or in the pub. One should create an environment in the house to change one's habits, in the bed room, in the kitchen and wherever you are by yourself. Develop strong will inside you and this undying will and courage to do good for the benefit of many will be of great benefit whether you regard yourself as religious or not. If we have individuals who adopt this theory of the eight noble paths they will experience the fourth noble truth, the truth of the cessation of suffering. Whether you believe in god or you are an aethiest, or believe in reincarnation or in an eternal heaven and hell, it does not matter. You will only experience what you deserve. You will be a kind and sincere person, that is the purpose of religion. Who cares what we believe in? It largely depends on how we conduct our everyday lives. That is the essence of religious practice, the eight noble paths I have spoken about tonight are one of the many ways to practise it.

  In brief, do not be too happy when everything is fine with you for there are many less fortunate beings who are suffering at this very moment. Do not forget the poor, sick, abandoned children, the lonely and aged people. Share your happiness by thinking of their welfare. Think of those caught in the war in former Yugoslavia and places like Cambodia and do something useful with compassion instead of indulging in your own fortune. Also do not be too sad when things are not going well with you. You are one of the many fortunate people in the world. Appreciate and be grateful for the things you have, this will reduce your sufferings. In order to experience the cessation of suffering, the fourth noble Truth, learn to be durable like the earth, fluid like the water, creative and light like the air and free and vast like the sky. Learn these qualities you yearn to cultivate from the mother nature, if one fails to find any human being devoid of fault. Finally may the ills of humanity not defile the ever shining truth of the enlightened ones, like the lotus flower untainted by the soil in which it grows. Accept what you can now.



  Everything Comes from the Mind / by Lama Thubten Yeshe

  Buddhism can be understood on many different levels, and people who actualize the Buddhist path do so gradually. Just as you pass slowly through school and university, graduating from one year to the next, so do Buddhist practitioners proceed step by step along the path to enlightenment. In Buddhism, however, we're talking about different levels of mind; here, higher and lower depend upon how much spiritual progress you have made....... Also, in the West, there's a tendency to consider Buddhism as a religion in the Western sense of the term. This is a misconception. Buddhism is completely open; you can talk about anything - the evolution of both the external and the internal worlds. Buddhism has its doctrine and philosophy but it also encourages scientific experimentation, both inner and outer. Therefore, please don't think of Buddhism as being some kind of narrow, closed-minded belief system. It isn't. And also, Buddhist doctrine today is not an historical fabrication derived through imagination and mental speculation. Rather, it is a true psychological explanation of the actual nature of the mind....... When you look at the outside world you have a very strong impression of its substantiality. You probably don't realize that that strong impression is merely your own mind's interpretation of what it sees. You think that the strong, solid reality really exists outside, and when you look within, perhaps you feel empty. This is also a misconception, the wrong mental attitude that fails to realize that the strong impression that appears to truly exist outside of you is actually projected by your own mind. Everything you experience - feelings, sensations, shapes and colors - comes from your mind....... If you get up one morning with a foggy mind and the world round you also appears to be dark and foggy, or when the world seems beautiful and light, you should understand that basically, those impressions are coming from your own mind rather than from changes in the external environment....... Therefore, instead of misinterpreting whatever you experience in life through judgmental wrong conceptions, you should realize that it's not outer reality but only mind....... For example, when everybody in this auditorium looks at a single object, me, Lama Yeshe, each of you has a distinctly different experience, even though simultaneously you are all looking at the one thing. These different experiences don't come from me; they come from your own minds. You are probably thinking, "Oh, how can he say that? We all see the same face, the same body, the same clothes," but that's a just a superficial interpretation. If you check deeper you'll see that the way you perceive me, the way you feel, is individual, and that at that level, you're all different. These various perceptions do not come from me but from your own minds. That's the point I'm making. o then perhaps you think, "Oh, he's just a lama; all he knows about is mind. He doesn't know about powerful scientific advances like satellites and other sophisticated technology. There's no way you can say that those things come from mind." But you check up. When I say "satellite," you have a mental image of the object that you've been told is a satellite. When the first satellite was made, its inventor said, "I've made this thing that orbits the earth; it's called a 'satellite.'" Then when everybody else saw it, they thought, "Ah, that's a satellite." But 'satellite' is just a name, isn't it?...... Before the inventor of the satellite actually made it, he speculated and visualized it in his mind. Then, on the basis of this image, he acted to materialize his creation. Then he told everyone, "This is a satellite," so everyone thought, "Wow, a satellite; how beautiful, how wonderful." So that shows how ridiculous we are. People give things names and we grasp at the name, believing it to be the real thing. It's the same thing no matter what colors and forms we grasp at. You check up....... If you can understand what I'm explaining here, you'll see that indeed, satellites and so forth do come from the mind, and that without mind, there is not a single manifest material existence in the entire sense world. What exists without mind? Look at all the stuff you find in supermarkets: so many names, so many foods, so many different things. First people made it all up - this name, that name, this, this, this - so then, this, that, this, this and this all appear to you. So if all these thousands of supermarket items as well as jets, rockets and satellites are manifestations of mind, what then does not come from mind? That's why it is so very important to know the way your own mind works....... Thus, if you check really deeply into how your mind expresses itself, your various views and feelings, your imagination, you will realize that all your emotions, the way you live your life, the way you relate with others, all come from your own mind. If you don't understand how your mind works, you're going to continue having negative experiences like anger and depression. Why do I call a depressed mind negative? Because a depressed mind doesn't understand how it works. A mind without understanding is negative. A negative mind functions to bring you down, because all its reactions are polluted. A mind with understanding functions clearly. A clear mind is a positive mind....... Therefore, any emotional problem you experience arises because of the way your mind is functions, and your basic problem lies in the way you misidentify yourself. You normally hold yourself in low esteem; you see yourself as a poor quality human being, while what you really want is for your life to be of the highest quality, perfect. You don't want to be a poor quality human being, do you? So, in order to correct your view and become a much better person, you don't need to squeeze yourself or to jump from your own culture into another. That's not the solution. All you need to do is to understand your true nature, the way you already are. That's all. It's so simple.

  The Purpose of Religion / by Lama Thubten Yeshe / Lama Yeshe gave this teaching in Brisbane, Australia, in April, 1975. Edited by Nicholas Ribush.

  Many people misunderstand Buddhism. Even some professors of Buddhist studies look at just the words and interpret what the Buddha taught very literally. They don't understand his methods, which are the real essence of his teachings. In my opinion, the most important aspect of any religion is its methods: how to put that religion into your own experience. The better you understand that, the more effective your religion becomes. Your practice becomes so natural, so realistic; you easily come to understand your own nature, your own mind, and you don't get surprised by whatever you find in it. Then, when you understand the nature of your own mind, you'll be able to control it naturally; you won't have to push so hard; understanding naturally brings control.

  Many people will imagine that control of the mind is some kind of tight, restrictive bondage. Actually, control is a natural state. But you're not going to say that, are you? You're going to say that the mind is uncontrolled by nature, that it is natural for the mind to be uncontrolled. But it's not. When you realize the nature of your uncontrolled mind, control comes as naturally as your present uncontrolled state arises. Moreover, the only way to gain control over your mind is to understand its nature. You can never force your mind, your internal world, to change. Nor can you purify your mind, by punishing yourself physically, by beating your body. That's totally impossible. Impurity, sin, negativity or whatever else you want to call it is psychological, a mental phenomenon, so you can't stop it physically. Purification requires a skillful combination of method and wisdom. To purify your mind, you don't have to believe in something special up there—God, or Buddha. Don't worry about that. When you truly realize the up and down nature of your everyday life, the characteristic nature of your own mental attitude, you'll automatically want to implement a solution.

  These days, many people are disillusioned with religion; they seem to think it doesn't work. Religion works. It offers fantastic solutions to all your problems. The problem is that people don't understand the characteristic nature of religion, so they don't have the will to implement its methods

  Consider the materialistic life. It's a state of complete agitation and conflict. You can never fix things to be the way you want. You can't just wake up in the morning and decide exactly how you want your day to unfold. Forget about weeks, months, or years; you can't even predetermine one day. If I were to ask you right now if can you get up in the morning and set exactly how your day was going to go, how you were going to feel each moment, what would you say? There's no way you can do that, is there?

  No matter how much you make yourself materially comfortable, no matter how you arrange your house—you have this, you have that; you put one thing here, you put another there—you can never manipulate your mind in the same way. You can never determine the way you're going to feel all day. How can you fix your mind like that? How can you say, "Today I'm going to be like this"? I can tell you with absolute certainty, as long as your mind is uncontrolled, agitated and dualistic, there's no way; it's impossible. When I say this, I'm not putting you down; I'm just talking about the way the mind works.

  What all this goes to show is that no matter how much you tell yourself, "Oh, this makes me happy, today I'm going to be happy all day long," it's impossible to predetermine your life like that. Automatically, your feelings keep changing, changing, changing. This demonstrates clearly that the materialistic life doesn't work. However, I don't mean that you should renounce the worldly life and become ascetics. That's not what I'm saying. My point is that if you understand spiritual principles correctly and act accordingly, you will find much greater satisfaction and meaning in your life than you will by relying on the sense world alone. The sense world alone cannot satisfy the human mind.

  Thus, the only purpose for the existence of what we call religion is for us to understand the nature of our own psyche, our own mind, our own feelings. Whatever name we give to our spiritual path, the most important thing is that we get to know our own experiences, our own feelings. Therefore, the lamas' experience of Buddhism is that instead of emphasizing belief, it places prime importance on personal experimentation, putting Dharma methods into action and assessing the effect they have on our minds: do these methods help? Have our minds changed or are they just as uncontrolled as they ever were? This is Buddhism, and this method of checking the mind is called meditation.

  It's an individual thing; you can't generalize. It all comes down to personal understanding, personal experience. If your path is not providing solutions to your problems, answers to your questions, satisfaction to your mind, you must check up. Perhaps there's something wrong with your point of view, your understanding. You can't necessarily conclude that there's something wrong with your religion just because you tried it and it didn't work. Different individuals have their own ideas, views, and understanding of religion, and can make mistakes.

  Therefore, make sure that the way you understand your religions ideas and methods is correct. If you make the right effort on the basis of right understanding, you will experience deep inner satisfaction. Thus, you'll prove to yourself that satisfaction does not depend on anything external. True satisfaction comes from the mind.



  Give Your Ego the Wisdom Eye / by Lama Thubten Yeshe / Lama Yeshe gave this five-day meditation course he conducted at Dromana, near Melbourne, Australia

  We always use the word, "ego." But although we're all the time saying, "ego, ego, ego," we don't realize the ego's psychological aspects, its mental attitude. We interpret the ego as some sort of physical entity. Therefore, it is necessary to discover that the ego is mental, not physical. That's so worthwhile....... We have such a short time to realize egolessness, but searching for it is what differentiates us from animals. Otherwise, what's the difference? Animals enjoy the sense world and conduct their lives to the best of their ability. Just like ourselves, they like those who feed them and dislike those who beat them, isn't it? What's the difference?...... Perhaps you think, "Rubbish! I can intellectualize, I can write; I can make money to support and enjoy my life." But even rats and mice can look after themselves with ego and attachment. They can collect and store food many times their own weight. Look at the bees: even though their lives are so short, they collect enough honey to last for maybe hundreds of years. So, what difference is there between bees and so-called intelligent humans if the mental attitude is the same, where both are living only for sense pleasure? Perhaps bees are even more intelligent than us—they live such short lives but still accumulate vast amounts of what gives them pleasure....... Therefore, I think it's so worthwhile and so important that while we occupy these precious human bodies, with all our intelligence and where everything has come together, we use our ability to seek our inner nature and release ourselves from all the problems of mental defilement, which come from our ego. Everything we’ve done since the time we were born until now has come from our ego, but it's all been so transitory and our pleasure has been so small....... But don't think, "Oh, I'm too bad; my mind is completely dominated by my ego." Don't put yourself down. Instead, be happy to realize such things....... Realizing that only your own mind and effort can bring you release from your ego is so worthwhile. For years and years, ages and ages, all you've done is build up your ego, and under the influence of its hallucinated projection of he sense world, you’ve run, run, run from one thing to another, as if you'd lost your mind. So to now have just one flash of recognition of all this is most worthwhile; it really is worth putting in the effort....... Don t think that without your own effort, without your own wisdom functioning, you can stop the schizophrenic mental problems that result from the energy force of your own ego. It's impossible....... Lama doesn't believe that he can solve your problems without your own effort and action. That's a dream; if that's your attitude, it's a complete misconception. "God can do everything for me; Buddha can do everything for me. I'll just wait." That's not true! "I don't have to do anything." That's not true! You did everything, now you have to experience the powerful consequences. You can see now, with your own experience, can't you? Just one meditation session is all it takes....... What Lama wants is for you to become a wise human being instead of one who is dominated by the energy force of a super-sensitive ego. At the end of a meditation course, I'd like you to be thinking, "Well, that was my own meditation course, given by my own wisdom." If you feel like that, the course was worthwhile. Otherwise, if you just go, "A high Tibetan lama gave a meditation course; I went," it's just another ego trip. What's the purpose? Your old habits, your schizophrenic mental attitudes haven't changed a bit. So what meditation did you do? Lord Buddha is already enlightened; through his own effort, with his own wisdom, he freed himself from his schizophrenic mind, but here we are in a still agitated condition....... So you can see, realization is so individual. It depends upon each individual's mind, effort and wisdom. Realization is so personal. From morning until night, you all have different experiences, even though you're all trying to meditate on the same thing—different experiences according to the individual level of the individual mind....... If you think, "Oh, I have so much to do at home ... my house, my family, my friends ... it's difficult to sit and meditate," it means your mind is ensnared by the worldly life. You've been like that from the time you were born until now, and if you keep going that way, you'll end up dying with nothingness. How can you ever finish anything like that? Work in the materialistic life continues to pile up, one thing after another, then another, another, another, and you can never say, "Ah, at last I've finished everything, now I can sit and meditate." That time will never come....... You can see, when your mind is occupied ego energy, it's like constantly having needles stuck into your body. That would be pretty uncomfortable, wouldn't it! It's the same thing, exactly the same thing. So you can realize how Important it is to release attachment and ego. When you do release them, you will experience everlasting joyful realization, inner freedom, inner liberation, nirvana ... it doesn't matter what you call it. But instead, all we do is try to please our ego; it's like we're praying to our ego. We dedicate all our energy to our ego, and what we get in return m mental pollution; there's such a bad smell in our minds that they can't even breathe....... So from now on, instead of welcoming your ego's energy force, stand guard against it with mindfulness and wisdom, watching with penetrative attention for the first sign of its arrival. And when it comes, instead of welcoming it, "How are you, ego? Come right in! Have a cup of tea, have some chocolate," examine it with a big wisdom eye, a wisdom eye bigger than your head! Just watch it. When you give your ego the big wisdom eye, it disappears, all by itself.



  Attachment: The Biggest Problem on Earth / by Lama Thubten Yeshe Lama Thubten Yeshe gave this teaching during a five-day meditation course he conducted at Dromana, near Melbourne, Australia, in March 1971.

  You are so fortunate being able to put much effort of body, speech and mind into seeking inner reality, your true nature. When you check how you have spent most of your life, you can see how fortunate you are having the chance to make this search even once. So fortunate!...... I'm not just making it up, "Oh, you're so good," trying to make you feel proud. It's true. However, to really discover that all human problems, physical and mental, come from attachment, is not an easy job. It takes much time....... For example, if you're having difficulty at a meditation course, you might start thinking about home: your warm house, your comfortable bed, chocolate cake. You remember all these nice things. Then your ego and attachment get to work, "Oh, I don't know about this course. I'd be better off at home. At least there I know I can enjoy myself." But we all know what's going to happen when you get there....... Still, attachment follows your ego's view, "My bed is so good, I'll be so comfortable back home; my family is there, I can relax and do whatever I feel like, I'll be free. Here I'm not free and I have to try to be serious. Anyway, my serious mind doesn't seem to be functioning, so I might as well leave." Your dualistic attachment kicks in, telling you so much stuff, convincing you until you say, "Yes, yes, yes" and leave....... So then you get home, and you're sitting in your room, and you check up. How silly! Nothing's new. There's no place on earth where you're guaranteed to find satisfactory enjoyment. Don't think Tibet must be a fantastic place, a paradise where everything is pleasure. Never! Never! Since dissatisfaction and attachment inevitably come with this body and mind, your samsaric mandala of dissatisfaction accompanies you wherever you go. Even if you leave your own country and go to a cave in the mountains, attachment comes along. You can't leave it back home....... Trying to face your problems is far more worthwhile than trying to run away from them without understanding their root. You've been that way before; it's not a new trip. It's the same old trip. You go, you change, you go, you change, on and on like that. In this life alone you've taken so many attachment tops....... With effort, everything is possible. In order to attain the realization of indestructible, everlasting peace, you have to have an indestructible mind for training. Realizations don't come without your training your mind the right way. First you have to make the determination, "For such a long time I have been servant to the two mental departments of attachment and ego, trying to please them. But in fact, they are my greatest enemy, the root of all my problems, the destroyers of my peace and enjoyment." You have to understand how these two minds occupy and control your internal world....... According to Lord Buddha's teachings, as long as you don't realize that your real enemy is within you, you will never recognize that the mind of attachment is the root of all the problems your body and mind experience. All your worries, your depression, everything comes from that. Until you do recognize that, even though you might occasionally have an hour's good concentration, it never lasts. If, however, you do see the psychological origin of your problems and understand the nature of attachment and how it works to cause aggression, desire and hatred, your mind becomes very powerful....... When you're in a peaceful environment, you think, "Oh, I'm so peaceful, my meditation is so good, I have such good realizations." But when you're out shopping in the street or in a supermarket and people bump into you, you freak out; because you're not sitting in meditation but walking around, your mind is completely uncontrolled. If, however, if you understand the psychology of attachment and how it lies at the root of your various reactions, you will not freak out easily and will really be able to control your mind, no matter where you go or who you're with....... This is not just some philosophical theory, either. It is really true, based on living experience. In fact, not only Buddhism, but all religions recognize the shortcomings of attachment. Even worldly people talk about its drawbacks. But, you know, even though we say the words, "Attachment this, attachment that," we don't really recognize it as the biggest problem on earth....... Therefore, what I'm saying is, it would be wonderful if you could recognize that your own attachment is the cause of every single problem that you experience. Problems with your husband, wife, children, society, authorities, everybody; having a bad reputation; your friends not liking you; people talking badly about you; your hating your teacher, your lama or your priest; all this truly comes from your own attachment. You really check up....... We Westerners always have to blame something external when things go wrong. "I'm not happy, so I'd better change this." We're always trying to change the world around us instead of recognizing that it's our own attachment that we have to change....... Just take a simple example. When someone hurts you by telling you that you're greedy, although you blame the person for how you feel, the hurt actually comes from your attachment. First of all, people, perhaps even your parents or your spouse, don't like your attachment-driven behavior, so they complain, "Oh, you're so greedy," hurting your ego. And then, instead of accepting their pointing out your selfish behavior, your attachment to always being right, perfect, causes you angrily to reject what they say. The fact that your ego, your wrong-conception mind, cannot accept criticism is itself a big problem: your ego wants you to be right all the time, and your attachment creates its own philosophy of never listening to advice, no matter who gives it, closing off your mind. It is very important that you learn to deal with these problems in the best possible way.



  Foundation of all Good Qualities / by Je Tsongkhapa (This prayer by Lama Tsongkhapa outlines the basic Lam Rim teachings, the graduated path to enlightenment.)

  * The kind and venerable spiritual master is the foundation of all good qualities. Seeing that dependence on him or her is the root of the path, may I rely on him or her with great respect and continuous effort -- inspire me thus!... * A human life with leisure is obtained this once. Understanding that it has great value and is hard to find, may I produce unceasingly the mind that takes hold of its essence day and night -- inspire me thus!... * The fluctuation of our body and life is like a bubble of water; remember death, for we perish so quickly. After death, the effects of black and white karma pursue us as a shadow follows a body. Finding certainty in this, may I always be careful to abandon even the slightest negative action and to complete the accumulation of virtue -- inspire me thus!... * There is no satisfaction in enjoying worldly pleasures. They are the door to all misery. Having realized that the fault of samsaric perfections is that they cannot be trusted, may I be strongly intent on the bliss of liberation -- inspire me thus!... * That pure thought to attain liberation produces great conscientiousness, mindfulness and awareness, may I make the essential practice, keeping the vows of individual liberation, the root of the doctrine -- inspire me thus!... * Having seen that all beings, my kind mothers, have fallen like myself into the ocean of cyclic existence, may I train in the supreme heart dedicated to enlightenment, assuming the obligation to free all migrating beings -- inspire me thus!... * Generating the altruistic intention alone, without cultivation of the three moral practices, does not lead to enlightenment. Having realized this, may I practice with intense effort the vows of the conquerors and their spiritual children -- inspire me thus!... * By quieting distraction to false objects, and analyzing the meaning of reality, may I quickly generate within my mindstream the path uniting calm abiding and special insight -- inspire me thus!... * When, trained in the common path, I am a suitable vessel, let me enter with ease the great gateway of the fortunate ones, the Vajrayana, the highest of all vehicles -- inspire me thus!... * The basis of achieving the two powerful attainments is the pure vows and commitments that I have pledged. Having found true understanding of this, may I keep them even at the cost of my life -- inspire me thus!... * Having realized the significance of the two stages, which are the essence of the tantric path, may I steadfastly practice without laziness the four sessions of yoga, and realize what the holy beings have taught -- inspire me thus!... * May the spiritual teachers who lead me on the sacred path and all spiritual friends who practice it have long life. May I quickly and completely pacify all outer and inner hindrances -- grant such inspiration, I pray!... * In all my rebirths may I never be separated from perfect spiritual masters, and enjoy the magnificent Dharma. Completing all qualities of the stages and paths, may I quickly achieve the stage of Vajradhara.



  The Problem of Past and Future / An excerpt from the book of Lama Anagarika Govinda

  Both time and space are the outcome of movement, the characteristic of life, from its highest spiritual manifestations down to the simplest physical phenomena. By intellectually separating time from space, and both of them from the experiencing subject, we arrive at an abstract concept which has neither vitality nor reality. In order to imbue it with a semblance of movement, we divide it into past, present and future, out of which neither the past nor the future seem to possess actual reality. The present, however, according to this division, is merely the dividing line between the past that is no more and a future which is not yet: it is a point without extension, with- out dimension, and therefore without the possibility of move- ment. Yet we feel the present as the most real aspect of time, the only point in which movement is possible.

  Consequently some modern thinkers try to cut through the Gordian knot by declaring that there is no time and that the only solution to the riddle of life consists in living exclusively in the present, treating the past and the future as non-existent and illusory. In this way they arrive at their concept of spontaneity as the only true principle of life, forgetting that spontaneity is built on practice; in other words, that it is a product of long repeated actions in the past, actions that have been carried out consciously and deliberately over a long period and which have become so ingrained in one's nature that they need no further decision or effort of will.

  The wonderful instincts of animals (which by far outdo our cleverest logical operations) are based on this accumulation of past experience, and the same holds good of the human genius, the man of unerring "spiritual instinct" (which we call "intuition"), or the virtuoso, whose technical perfection is the fruit of years of intensive practice, and whose accomplishments have become part of his subconscious or unconscious nature. In spite of popular belief, a genius does not fall from heaven - except from the heaven of his own making. Even the Buddha, according to Buddhist tradition, had aeons of practice on the Bodhisattva Path behind him, before he became a Buddha, a Fully Enlightened One. In the same way we have to assume that children - who display extraordinary faculties and accomplishments, before they had a chance to acquire them through education or training since their birth, can only have acquired them in a pre-natal existence. "The mechanistic theory of heredity," as J. S. Haldane says, "is not only unproven; it is impossible. It involves such absurdities that no intelligent person who has thoroughly realized its meaning and implications can continue to hold it." Science is unable to explain the astonishing feats of child-prodigies who - as, for instance, Mozart or Beethoven - could master complicated musical instruments and the even more complicated and subtle laws of musical composition. Mozart composed minuets at the age of four, while Beethoven had composed three sonatas even before he had reached this age. To explain this through the hereditary factors and combinations of chromosomes is as unconvincing as explaining the human mind as a product of the brain. The brain is as much a product of the mind as the chromosomes are a product of forces about whose nature we know as little as we do of what we call gravitation, light, or consciousness. The more we try to reduce the world into a play of cause and effect instead of seeing the infinite inter-relationship of all phenomena, and each individual relation as a unique expression and focalization of universal forces, the further we get from reality.

  However, even if we admit that all the powers and faculties of the universe are within us, unless we have activated them through practice or made them accessible through training they will never become realities that influence our life. They will neither appear nor materialize effectively if we merely rely on the potentialities of our "unconscious mind," as the mediocre products of modern worshippers of the "unconscious" amply demonstrate in all fields of art and thought. just because the depth-consciousness (which I think is a better term than the "unconscious") contains an unlimited wealth of forces, qualities, and experiences, it requires a well- ordered, purposeful, and trained mind to make use of this wealth in a meaningful way, i.e. to call up only those forces, contents of consciousness or their respective archetypal symbols which are beneficial to the particular situation and spiritual level of the individual and give meaning to his life. "A more perfect understanding of the dynamic potentialities of the unconscious would entail the demand of a stricter discipline and a more clearly conscious direction," as Lewis Mum- ford said in his review of C. G. Jung's Remembrances.

  As a reaction against the overintellectualization of modern life, the chaotic excesses of certain modern artists and writers may be understandable, but as little as we can live by the in- tellect alone, can we live by the "unconscious" alone. Nothing of cultural or spiritual value has ever been produced in this way.

  Those who think that any conscious effort or aspiration is a violation of our spontaneous genius, and who look down upon any technique or method of meditation or the fruits of traditional experience as below their dignity, only deceive themselves and others! We can be spontaneous and yet fully conscious of the forms and forces of tradition. In fact, all culture consists in a deep awareness of the past. Such awareness, however, should not be confused with a clinging to the past or with an arbitrary imitation of its forms of expression; on the contrary, full awareness and perfect understanding free us from the fetters of the past, without thereby losing the fruits of our former experiences. We do not free ourselves from our past by trying to forget or to ignore it, but only through mastering it in the light of higher, i.e. unprejudiced knowledge.

  If we allow the past undissolved and undigested to sink into the subconscious, the past becomes the germ of uncontrollable because unconscious drives and impulses. Only those things which we have perfectly understood and con- sciously penetrated can be mastered and can have no more power over us. The methods of healing employed by modern psychotherapy as well as by the most ancient meditation - practices are based on this principle. Even the Buddha attained his Enlightenment only after having become conscious of his complete past. This past, however, included the past of the whole universe. By becoming, conscious of it, he freed himself from the power of hidden causes. Ignorance is bondage, knowledge is liberation. So long as we are ignorant of the causes of the past, we are governed them, and in so far they determine our future. The course of our future is "predestined" only to the extent of our ignorance.

  Fate is a very real aspect of our lives as long as we remain in ignorance, as real as the other aspect of freedom. What we call fate is the pulling and moulding of our lives from sources of which we are unconscious. Where there is the Light of consciousness all is freedom; wherever to us that Light does not penetrate is Fate. To the adept Siddha whose consciousness enfolds the whole range of manifested being there is no fate at all.' Genuine meditation is an act of opening ourselves to that Light; it is the art of invoking inspiration at will, by putting ourselves into a state of intuitive receptiveness, in which the gates of the past and the present are open to the mind's eye. But unless the mind's eye is cleared of the dust of prejudice and selfishness, it will not be able to grasp the meaning of its visions, to assess their value or importance and to make use of them. Two people may hear the same symphony: to the musically untrained or uncultured mind it will be a mere noise, to the cultured or musically receptive it will be a revelation, an experience. Even the grandest and most sublime vision conveys nothing to the ignorant, or something that may be thoroughly misleading. (Herein lies the danger for those who use trance-inducing or consciousness-transforming "psychedelic" drugs such as Mescalin, LSD or the like, without having the knowledge or the critical faculty to judge or to evaluate the resulting phenomena and experiences.)

  When I spoke about the gates of the past and the present, which are opened in introspective meditation, I did not mention the future. Neither did the Buddha when describing the experiences of his Enlightenment. Why was that so? Because the future is essentially contained in the past and focalized in the present.

  Jean Gebser, one of the most creative and stimulating thinkers of modern Europe - whose philosophy is the gigantic attempt to integrate the most advanced knowledge of our time with the spiritual sources of the past - defines evolution as the unfoldment in time and space of something that is already potentially existent in its essential features, though indeterminable in its individual realization. The manner in which we accomplish this individual realization is the task of our life and the essence of our freedom, which latter consists in our choice either to cooperate with the laws of our universal origin and to be free, or to ignore and to oppose them, and thus to become the slaves of our own ignorance. The more we recognize this our origin, the more we are able to cooperate with it and thus with the universal law (dharma) of our inherent nature. And likewise: he who perceives the outlines of the past can recognize or foresee the structure of the future. Their similarity is such that most clairvoyants are unable to distinguish between them, as confirmed by research-scholars such as Alexis Carrel, who says with regard to clairvoyants:

  Some of them perceive events which have already happened or which will take place in the future. It should be noted that they apprehend the future in the same way as the past. They are sometimes incapable of distinguishing the one from the other. For example they may speak at two different epochs of the same fact, without suspecting that the first vision relates to the future and the second to the past.

  This, and other similar statements, have been taken by some people as proof that the future exists in the same sense as the past, namely as an accomplished fact, hidden only to the limited faculties of perception of our human mind. But certain clairvoyant experiences, of which a striking example was reported by a well-known research-scholar (the mathematician Dunne, as far as I remember), seems to contradict this view. It is the well-authenticated story of a man who, after having bought a ticket for a sea voyage, dreamt that the boat on which he was traveling caught fire and sank. He saw vividly all the details and his own part in the events, such as his efforts to save himself and others from the impending doom. The dream was so overwhelmingly real that he returned the ticket. A short time later he read in the papers that the steamer, on which he had booked his passage, had met with a disaster and that the things had happened exactly as he had dreamt-except with regard to his own person! If the future event had been unalterably fixed or existed in some "timeless dimension," he could not have changed his decision and escaped the impending fate.

  What is foreseeable are probably certain general conditions under which the future events take place, and these general conditions have as much stability or constancy as a landscape through which we drive. If we know the speed of our movement and the road or the direction which we want to take, we can safely predict where we shall be at a certain future time and what landmarks we shall have to pass on the way. This then is not because it exists in a future dimension of time, but because we move in a certain direction under already existing conditions, or more correctly, conditions whose rate of change is so much slower than our own movement that we can regard it as a constant and, in this sense, existing factor. Once we move in a certain direction, we are bound to meet certain events. But whether we move or not, and which direction we choose, this lies in our hand - provided we have the knowledge to foresee the results of our actions. This knowledge can come only from the past, from the remembrance of past experiences.

  Here the question arises, whether the future is a real quality of time or merely a mental projection of the past into the opposite direction.......... We can think of the past without reference to the future. But we cannot think of the future without reference to the past. If an astronomer can predict future events with accuracy, it is because of his knowledge of the past movements of heavenly bodies, from which he deduces certain universal laws. These laws are, in other words, the sum total of the past in its timeless aspect, in its ever-present potentiality, in the actuality of the present moment.......... The past is ever-present, but due to the momentariness and limited range of our ordinary individual consciousness (or rather that part of it which we use in our everyday life) - which can dwell only on one point at a time, and which therefore has to be in constant motion in order to cover a wider range of events, facts, or objects - due to this momentariness we experience only that one point as present, on which our mind is focused, and all other points as past (or, according to our expectation, as future)., If we could see all the points simultaneously, the past would appear as another dimension of space.......... Rainer Maria Rilke, perhaps the greatest mystic poet of our time, wrote in one of his letters:

  It appears to me more and more as if our ordinary consciousness were inhabiting the top of a pyramid, whose basis within us (and, so to say, below us) broadens out to such an extent that the further we are able to descend into it, the more widely included seem to be those data of earthly and universal existence which are independent of time and space. Since my earliest youth I have felt the probability (and I have also lived accordingly, as far as possible) that in a deeper cross-section of this pyramid of consciousness, the simple fact of being could become an event for us, that pure presence and simultaneous existence of everything, which in the "normal" upper apex of selfconsciousness, one is able to experience as a "successive process." To hint at a (human) figure who would be capable of perceiving the past as well as the things that have not yet arisen, as ultimate presence, has ,been an urge with me when writing my Malte, and I am convinced that this view corresponds to a real state, though it may contradict all conventions of our actual life. The aspect of "being" is nothing other than the total aspect of becoming. There is no question of choosing between these two aspects, as to which is the more real or true. Both are ever united, and those who try to build a philosophy upon only one of them, to the exclusion or negation of the other, lose themselves in verbal play. Even if time, as we understand it, is an imperfect way of seeing things, the movement on which it is based and the consciousness which perceives it are real factors of immediate experience and profound significance.

  If time is movement, and movement is not merely mechanical motion but an autonomous expression of individual life, then the future is not something already existing (or existing in an absolute sense), but evolving out of the pattern of individual movements. Even if the sum total of all these movements amounts to something like an eternal "Body of Reality" or whatever we may call the ultimate state of transcendental quietness, harmony and completeness, for which the Plenum Void of Sunyata perhaps the most adequate expression - the fact remains that each individual pattern has its own meaning and justification, and this consists in an inalienable experience of freedom, without which no individual life would be possible or would have been able to come into existence. Though in the average sentient being this freedom may consist only in an infinitesimally small part of his conscious activity, it is sufficient to break the rigidity and monotony of mechanical law. Even if from the individual pattern of behavior, the patterns of future events can be foreseen with a high degree of probability, we have to admit that probability is not certainty, not unalterable law, but merely the way of least resistance. The degree of probability becomes higher the more we are concerned with the general aspect of things or events, and lower the more we are concerned with the individual aspect. As Jung has said: The more theory lays claim to universal validity, the less capable it is of doing justice to the individual facts. The statistical method shows the facts in the light of the ideal average but does not give us a picture of their empirical reality. While reflecting an in- disputable aspect of reality, it can falsify the actual truth in a most misleading way. This is particularly true of theories which are based on statistics. The distinctive thing about real facts, however, is their individuality. These considerations must be borne in mind whenever there is talk of a theory serving as a guide to self-knowledge. There is and can be no self- knowledge based on theoretical assumptions, for the object of self-knowledge is an individuals relative exception and an irregular phenomenon. Hence it is not the universal and the regular that characterize the t individual, but rather the unique.

  This uniqueness is not a contradiction to the basic universality of the individual, but a focalized expression of that universality at a certain moment of time and in a certain spatial relationship to other phenomena of the universe at that moment. On the universal scale everything appears as law, on the individual scale law dissolves into mere patterns of probability. Law is the general frame in which individual movement, individual life, takes place. Just as a picture gets its meaning, i.e. becomes a "picture," because it is related to a frame, so freedom has meaning only within the framework of or with reference to law.

  Law, however, is the accumulated, crystallized past, the conscious as well as the unconscious memory, the sum total of past events or movements (or "emotions"), which in the individual condenses itself into form-tendencies which we call character." But since character is not something different from the individual, but that in which individuality consists, we cannot separate these two concepts and play the one out against the other by saying that because an individual acts according to his character, therefore there is no freedom of action. On the contrary, if an individual were forced to act against his character, he would be unfree. Freedom is neither waywardness nor lawlessness, but the expression of one's inner law. Freedom and law do not exclude each other (as little as the picture excludes the frame or the frame the picture). Though the frame imposes a limitation on the picture, it strengthens it at the same time. In a similar way laws, though imposing limitations upon our freedom, not only strengthen it, but make it possible. Freedom consists in the right application of laws, in making the right use of them, and this depends again on the degree of our knowledge or insight into the nature of things", i.e., into our own nature. It is only there that freedom can be found. To express one's own inner law, one's character, in one's actions, is true self-expression, and self- expression is the hallmark of freedom. Freedom, like all spiritual realities, is one of the great paradoxes of life, and like life itself it is beyond proof or logical definition.

  The problem of freedom is closely bound up with the problem of the future. If the future were something existing, in the same way as the past, there would be neither freedom nor meaning in the unfoldment of individual life, no responsibility for our actions, no moral or ethical values: life would be reduced to the clockwork of a mechanical process which runs its course to an inevitable end or in an endless circle of blind necessity or predetermined action. No system of thought that believes in ethical values and ultimate freedom or liberation through individual effort and a certain measure of free will and insight, can subscribe to such a view. The Buddha himself rejected this fatalistic outlook of pure determinism in his emphasis on self-reliance and in his condemnation of Makkhali Gosala's doctrine of predestination (Samannaphala Sutta ).

  The Buddha treated the past as an unquestionable fact, the present as the decisive time-element, but he never speculated about the future. Though he often spoke about the past, of previous existences as well as of previous world-cycles and of the Buddhas of the remote past, he never indulged in prophesies. This in itself is significant and shows that , the past and the future cannot be treated on the same footing, or as possessing the same degree of reality.

  Since time and space are the two inseparable poles of the same reality, we should expect a parallelism of their structure. But do the three dimensions of space correspond to similar three dimensions of time? Obviously not; because if we divide time into past, present and future, then the present is not a dimension at all, but the incommensurable point which separates the past from the future. Nor can we say that the past and the future are opposite dimensions; they are one and the same movement, pursuing the same direction. If the past and the future would constitute movements in quite different or opposite directions, we would be justified in calling them different dimensions. But time is movement in one direction only, and has therefore only one dimension, as indicated by the phrase, "three dimensions of space and one of time," which latter, therefore, has also been called "the fourth dimension." Of this question (which we shall consider in a subsequent essay), Alexis Carrell had this to say:

  On the surface of our planet those dimensions are discerned through particular characteristics. The vertical is identified by the phenomenon of gravity. We are unable to make any distinction between the two horizontal dimensions. As for the fourth dimension, or time, it takes on a strange aspect. While the other three dimensions of things are short and almost motionless, it appears as ceaselessly extending and very long.

  No concrete thing has only three spatial dimensions. A rock, a tree, an animal cannot be instantaneous. Indeed we are capable of building up in our minds beings entirely described within three dimensions. But all concrete objects have four. And man extends both in time and in space. To an observer living far more slowly than we do, he would appear as something narrow and elongated, analogous to the incandescent trail of a meteor. Besides he possesses another aspect, impossible to define clearly. For he is not wholly comprised within the physical continuum. Thought is not confined within time and space.



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