Turning the mind toward the Dharma

Q: How do you think that the teachings of the Dharma can help the people here?
Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche: Actually, it all depends on individual practitioners--on the extent to which they can live their lives in accordance with the Dharma. If they can apply the Dharma to their own experience one hundred per cent, then the Dharma will help those individuals, not only by bringing about liberation from samsara and eventually enlightenment, but also by producing benefits within this lifetime.
For example, when our minds are strengthened through Dharma practice, we become more capable of handling the vicissitudes of daily life experiences and the various emotions that accompany them. Because we have this mental strength, we can remain centered, instead of going crazy because of the different situations we have to face. If, in terms of basic sanity, our minds are not strong, then the challenges of the outside world can result in emotional disturbance, whereas if we have learned to relate to the practice, our minds are strengthened by the vision of the Dharma.
In worldly terms, the United States is the most prosperous country on earth, and the average person here lives in relative luxury. Living in a society with such a high standard of living, some individuals have difficulty dealing with the changing conditions that they experience in daily life. Sometimes there is so much happiness that they are unable to absorb it and become overwhelmed, and again, when faced with loss they lose their balance, so to speak, plunging to the depths of despair and suffering a complete loss of confidence. By applying Dharma practice, these two emotional extremes can be brought into balance so that one is not overwhelmed by peaks and valleys of happiness and sadness that are so great they can not be assimilated. The minds of average people are conditionally weak, but when they have applied themselves to the Dharma their minds become more balanced, making them braver and stronger. In this way Dharma can be great benefit.
But that's just the mundane level of benefit--to be able to cope better with everyday life. The spiritual benefit, of course, goes without saying: By learning the Dharma, we come to understand that our present life is not all there is. There is a succession or string of lives, continuing from lifetime to lifetime, and each one is conditioned by karma. Whether future lives will be full of happiness or suffering depends on the actions that one cultivates during this lifetime, as well as on the actions of previous lifetimes. Negativity results from karmic accumulations of previous negative involvements. Once one comes to understand these things, that is the spiritual benefit.

Q: What exactly is the Dharma that we are supposed to practice? Is it the teachings that we receive or is it something other than the teachings?
Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche: Yes, properly speaking, the practice of whatever teachings and instructions one has received is what is called the practice of the Dharma. But at this particular point, we're talking in this teaching about the preparations necessary for correct Dharma practice. Understanding and meditating upon four common foundations is the first part of the practice. Once we are able to relate to these, we will come to the four extraordinary practices, the stage-by-stage practices. So, learning to understand the four common foundations is like preparing to fight enemies you have never seen. You have to acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses as a warrior in order to accentuate your advantages and fortify your limitations. On the other hand, if you just rush out to fight your enemies without any preparation, it would be quite difficult to achieve any victory. For this reason these preliminary stages are crucial.

Q: What are the benefits of learning to do meditation?
Bardor Tulku Rinpoche: In coming to study and learn how to meditate, it is important first to recognize the benefits of meditation itself. Prior to entering the path of meditation, we have never been able to relate directly to the actual nature of our own minds. Ordinary people's minds are busy with their concepts of daily life. As a result, the mind cannot rest in the peace of its own original nature. Our experiences of everyday life are not really the mind itself but conceptions. So one benefit of learning meditation is to be able to recognize the very nature of the mind, and then to rest the mind in its own natural state, something we are unable to do in our present condition. Our minds are fixated on concepts, according to which we experience feelings. But through meditation we attempt to relate to the mind's basic nature and to rest the mind in its own nature--to put it where it is supposed to be, in other words.
Of course, being able to realize the true nature of the mind comes later, as the result of extensive meditation practice. We certainly cannot expect to attain the absolute understanding of the nature of the mind in one or two days, weeks, months, or even years. But we are trying to learn how to take the first step.

Q: I have a question about the unintentional unvirtuous actions as a result of karma. It seems to me that, for myself, a lot of things I do are the result of not being aware of what the real forces are, and which are making me act the way I do. Is that a result of ignorance? What is the cause of that? How can we understand more about our actions as a result of karma? How can we better understand and be more aware of what it is in us that is making us behave that way?
Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche: We ordinarily engage in unvirtuous activity in four different ways. The first is through ignorance, not knowing that we are doing something negative. Not being aware of what is negative or harmful, we engage in unvirtuous actions based on that ignorance.
Second is the absence of mindfulness. If the mind is totally distracted, although we know something is bad, we engage in unvirtuous action based on the absence of mindfulness.
Third, we also engage in unvirtuous actions through disrespect. This means we know about something, but we have no respect, either for the subject or for the person we have learned it from. Although we have been told that doing a certain thing is negative, because of our disrespect we do not believe it, and so continue to engage in the unvirtuous actions.
Fourth, we engage in unvirtuous activity through the power of the mental afflictions. We know that something is negative, but our patterns are so powerful that, without any control, we engage in that negative activity. That is the power of mental afflictions.
There are remedies that you need to use to overcome these fourfold unvirtuous activities. If unvirtuous activity is because of ignorance, try to study more about virtuous actions, the qualities of virtuous actions, how the Dharma is based on virtuous actions. The more you study, the more your knowledge develops, and that also develops the quality of prajna. Prajna eliminates the obstacle of ignorance, so you are free from engaging in unvirtuous actions through ignorance.
If you are engaging in unvirtuous actions through disrespect, you need to study more, particularly on cause and result, and fruition (Tib. GYUN DREL). The more you develop confidence in the reality of cause and effect, the better you can eliminate engaging in unvirtuous action out of disrespect.
If you lack mindfulness, you must remind yourself over and over (whenever you are mindful!) to not become careless during any situation. Instead, make a commitment to maintaining strong mindfulness. The more you remind yourself this way, the better you will become at being mindful in all situations and under all conditions.
Finally, the remedy for being overpowered by mental afflictions is to first gain an understanding of the most powerful ones you have. Once you determine which emotion (anger, hatred and so forth) is most powerful for you, you must work through it by developing loving-kindness and an understanding of emptiness, including the inherent lack of solid basis for all conflicting emotions.
Those are techniques or methods for overcoming the fourfold unvirtuous actions.

Q: Say that my actions are a result of my own karma. For me, it feels as if the karma has more power than I can control, or that I'm going to be a victim of my own karma. It almost seems too easy to say "Oh, I did this and it was because of my karma and I had no control over it." How is it that we can even have a sense of what our own karma is making us do?
Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche: In Buddhism, we often teach the idea of cause and result, and also include the teaching about suffering. To define suffering again, when we have any physical or mental discomfort or pain, that is suffering. That suffering is really the karma you are talking about, because it is the result, or fruition, of whatever we have caused. The fruition is often negative, because we have engaged in more negative or unvirtuous actions, and the result of any negative actions is pain and suffering. How did we cultivate that cause? We experience that mental or physical pain through the intensity of our conflicting emotions, which are hatred, attachment, pride, jealousy, and so forth. The power of these conflicting emotions is the "cause" of what is now ripening in our life as experiences of discomfort, pain, and suffering. That is the real meaning of karma.
For example, say that a person commits a negative action such as killing because of his or her mental afflictions. From the act of killing there is a resultant karmic accumulation. The person's kleshas are stirred up by the pain and suffering that resulted from the act of killing, which builds habitual patterns of experiencing the kleshas. Habitual patterns themselves are not karma. In order to undo the habitual patterns of negativity, we simply have to apply strong habitual patterns of virtuous activities. The only remedy for negative habitual patterns is to develop positive habitual patterns.
We have the option, however, to prevent ourselves from further cultivating such a cause, so we can prevent the future experience of such suffering. What cultivates the negative unvirtuous seeds of the experience of suffering is the mental afflictions. In many ways, our mental afflictions seem to be very powerful, almost uncontrollable. What makes them seem to be so powerful is very simple. From beginningless time, we have "spoiled" the mental afflictions, providing whatever they desire. Having given them such opportunity, we are quite used to that habit. The mental afflictions have developed such habitual patterns that they seem to us to be uncontrollable.
However, the mental afflictions can be controlled. The Buddhadharma is filled with ideas and techniques for controlling or eliminating the mental afflictions, so you can learn to control them by studying the Buddhadharma. Only through learning the Buddhadharma are we able to pacify and subdue the powerful mental afflictions so that we are not further cultivating the cause that results in suffering and pain.

Q: Rinpoche, in the West people are usually very busy with jobs and families and many other commitments, and they often have difficulty finding time to practice. Do you have any suggestions that might be helpful in this regard?
Bardor Tulku Rinpoche: Actually, there is no difference between East and West--as soon as one is born into this life, it's samsara. Everyone who begins the life of dualism has many things to do to survive, many things to do to increase pleasure, and so forth. But you could actually say that life in the West is busier because of the greater economic development, in comparison to the Eastern side of the world. Nevertheless, we have to think that everyone is equally involved in dualistic life. As long as one is born in this world, on this planet, whether one is north, south, east, or west, everything is impermanent. The ultimate truth is that as long as one is conditioned to the life of a human being, physical as well as mental, nothing is experienced everlastingly. Everything ends after a certain period of time. But very few people are able to open their minds to the nature of impermanence. Someone who truly recognizes and understands impermanence is very rare.
Once you recognize the problem of impermanence, then time is what you make it. In other words, if you want to make time, you can make time. If you don't really want to make the time available, then somehow there is never enough time. That is because time is controlled by people. Time should not be controlling people, people should be controlling time. As long as the desire to make time is lacking, it is impossible to describe what kind of time should be made. So I can't say exactly how to find more time to practice, other than to say that if you are really interested in doing so, you should be able to. You know?

Q: On the basis of your experience of Western culture, what do you think the problems are that we should be working on; and, also, what particular gifts from Buddhism could and should we be receiving?
Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche: Frankly, if I am not mistaken, what seems to be the biggest problem is that although of course there is the element of lack of moderation in the lives of everyone in the world, there seems to be an extreme case of lack of moderation and lack of the sense of the importance of moderation in the West or in the States. Everyone wants to get ahead of everybody else, and then when they are ahead they want to get more and more ahead. Yes, definitely, there are a lot of admirable things here. Almost all the people are very educated and intelligent and efficient and so forth, and it is a very advanced country materially and technologically . But in the midst of all these good things, there is this sense of competition and lack of moderation. And people do not really seem to take into consideration what exactly their abilities or their talents are, and how much of their talents can be pursued--there seems to be very little consideration given to these matters. Each one simply wants to get above someone else, credential-wise, material-wise, or in any other way possible. So this element seems to be very strong.
And then in terms of the contribution Buddhism could make, there isn't any one thing in particular. Actually, Buddhist methods are simply a way of life, a very human way of life, which is something necessary for everyone. Whoever applies them, in whatever part of the world, is definitely going to experience the benefit toward solving the main problem of all people: breaking through the confusion and cares of the mind and becoming more tranquil and stable, which also brings along with it the situation of greater moderation.

Q: Rinpoche, you spoke of anger, aggression, jealousy and envy. Where does fear fit into this psychological framework?
Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche: The experience of fear arises when we think we are going to be harmed, or that damage is going to be inflicted upon our sense of well-being, our possessions, or our bodies. Fear is produced by the egoistic notion of self-importance. We believe that everything must be geared towards our personal benefit, and are fearful that this will not happen. This comes from, again, lack of true loving-kindness and compassion, because when one has genuinely experienced these qualities, true patience is generated. Through patience we are able to dispel such fears, since as long as you extend yourself for the well-being of others, it doesn't matter what kind of harmful things might be directed at you.

Q: Could you please give an example of how we could transmute or change anger or jealousy versus suppressing these feelings and therefore not really getting rid of them?
Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche: The transformation of any sort of neurosis (you asked particularly about anger) has three forms:
1. abandoning the kleshas,
2. bringing the kleshas onto the path, and
3. transforming the kleshas into wisdom.
Again, these approaches are based on the different vehicles.
According to the hinayana tradition, we talk about abandoning the kleshas. It is just as if we were walking alone in a forest where there are known to be many wild animals. We would be very cautious and always alert so as not to suddenly encounter any of those animals. Similarly, according to the hinayana tradition, we try to have alertness toward the kleshas. To develop alertness, we first acknowledge how powerful and damaging the kleshas can be . Once that is realized, we are always alert, just as we would be while walking in a dangerous forest.
In the bodhisattvayana, in bringing the kleshas onto the path we use our love and compassion toward living beings. Developing love and compassion toward living beings by understanding our emotions works like this: If something seems to bother or trouble us, if it churns up our emotions (for example, anger), we try not to blame it on other people. We try to immediately recognize that all those misfortunes or unfavorable conditions arise because we have done something negative in our past lives. It is our own responsibility to encounter such things, not the responsibility of the beings who are annoying us.
With that knowledge, and not blaming others, we understand the condition of all sentient beings with a sense of greater love and compassion. Earlier, I gave the example of being the parent of a blind child, and how we would not abandon this child in a dangerous place. Similarly, with compassion and love and, at the same time, with an understanding of our own negative karma, we become tolerant.
Finally, there is the vajrayana or tantrayana tradition, which is very pleasant to hear about but very difficult to practice. It is known as transforming the mental afflictions (often referred to as poisons) into wisdom. This is a fine idea, but very difficult to do.

Q: I have a question about the origin of the mind. It is said in certain teachings that the mind is in its essence clear and limitless and blissful. My question is, how did it come about that we have these defilements, all these layers of ignorance? On the one hand, it is said that we have been in samsara since beginningless time, we have been ignorant. But then on the other hand, the whole cosmos or universe is based on this love or compassion. How did it come to be that we have these layers?
Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche: There is a reason it is taught that we have been confused or deluded from beginningless time. We say "beginningless time" because there never was a time when our minds were pure, free from delusion or confusion. If there had been a time when our minds were pure and then they became deluded, we could say that there was a starting point when our minds became impure or deluded. Logically speaking, when we have accumulated karma, we must either experience the result or purify it.
When we experience the result of the karma we have cultivated, we are cultivating a new seed of karma to mature in the future (either in this life or a future life). Since experiencing karma does not mean we have overcome the mental afflictions, when we experience the fruition of that karma we accumulate new karma in the process, which requires us to experience another life. That is why samsara is called beginningless and endless. The end of it would be only when we purify past karma and uproot the mental afflictions that create new karma. Then we do not fall back into samsara.
However, the wisdom aspect of the mind has always been there, from beginningless time; it is just that we have never met all the conditions to awaken or realize that wisdom. Perhaps at some times we did meet all the conditions to realize the wisdom, but we were not diligent enough to realize the wisdom. Generally we have been more diligent and interested in conducting our lives in the more negative, unvirtuous actions, which led us to experience more negative karma, which defiled our minds further.

Q: This is a question about blaming others and the idea that you can use that blame to look at your own patterns--that the annoyance is really coming from the karma of your past. I guess that I am thinking about is that in Atisha's teachings, "Drive all blames into oneself...'' My interpretation of that is that when somebody gets us angry or annoys us, if some sort of emotion comes up, it is an opportunity to look at why we are becoming angry or emotional. In the way it was just put, if we took the attitude that it was just the accumulation of karma from the past that is making us feel this way, it seems like we would not be taking the responsibility to really look at what is going on right there at that moment, and what it is that is bothering us.
Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche: Basically there is not much need to analyze or speculate on why we have the emotion (anger, in this case). All the unfavorable conditions we experience, which churn up our anger, jealousy, attachment, or passion, show that we must overcome those emotions, and we that have a lot of faults. There is no particular reason to analyze to find why and how and so forth. It is obvious that we have those kleshas, and as long as we have them, anything that tends to instigate or incite those patterns will be able to do so.
For example, I had surgery recently and I now have a small incision which is still healing, and I am very sensitive at that location. If somebody touched me roughly on that opening, I would become angry. I would not have to think about why I am becoming angry, because that spot is very sensitive. Likewise, when we are very sensitive, it just shows how our mental afflictions are very powerful. Knowing why is really not necessary. What I am trying to say here is that, in my case, when somebody touches my wound, I realize that there is no point in getting angry, because it is my wound. The person who does the touching really has nothing to do with the wound except that he or she has touched it, so we try not to blame them, not to switch the anger to whoever caused it. In this case, the reason it is painful is that the wound is there, which is analogous to the kleshas. All the upheavals of anger and passion is because we have these kleshas.
In the hinayana system, there are many techniques to subdue or overcome the strength and power of the kleshas. For example, it is quite normal, when a man sees an attractive woman, or when a woman sees a handsome man, attachment and passion are churned up. We do not have to intellectualize about why this happens--we know that people are passionate. Knowing that, a practitioner needs to do something in order not to act in accordance with that passion, to not be under its influence. In the case of the anger, we try not to be under the influence of anger and act it out physically.
Going back to Atisha's teaching on mind training, whenever anything stimulates anger or jealousy or whatever, do not think, "This person has caused me to be angry," but "Because of my habitual pattern of aggressiveness (anger), I still tend to lean toward that habitual pattern." Even if the person who is causing your anger seems to be extremely aggressive toward you, you then try to make yourself quite a sensible individual, thinking, "If I react to the aggressive nature of my object, then I am becoming caught up in it." We have to learn not to participate in that aggressive exchange.

Q: Where does the consciousness go after it leaves the body? Where does the consciousness abide before it takes rebirth or becomes liberated? Does it float around? I do not understand.
Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche: Where is your consciousness abiding right now?
[Q: Well, I suppose it is in the body--no?]
The mind has no true concrete existence; there is no substance to it. Therefore, at present, even when we have our physical bodies, we cannot locate the mind (consciousness). At present, we have feeling. Wherever we touch any part of our bodies, we are able to feel it. Who feels that? It is the mind that feels it. Wherever we touch, that is where the feeling is, so it is not necessarily the case that the mind is in the head or in the body. We cannot pinpoint the location of the consciousness, even at the present moment. As long as there is the confusion or fixation, we believe that mind exists actually. Other than that, we cannot locate the mind. That is why we often say that the ultimate nature of mind is nonexistent or that there is no concreteness to its existence.

Q: I have been wondering why we chose to come here and take this form. I do not know if this is a correct answer, but recently I have read that ignorance is one of the reasons. How did we get this ignorance to make this choice?
Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche: In fact, we did not have a choice at all. It was brought about by our karma. Choosing implies that we pick the human form and we have the capacity to choose which family (the father and mother with whom we want to take birth). We do not have that choice. Based on the strength of positive and negative karma, this had to happen, so there is no choice involved. We could say that ignorance is implied there because we had no choice. Because of not having a choice about our parents or where we will take birth, it could be said that ignorance is involved. To give an example of the force of karma, it is very similar to going up in an airplane and throwing thousands of pieces of paper out of it. How far they would go and where they land depends on how the wind blows them. Likewise, where we are born, what family we are born in and what sort of form we have, are based on the power of the karma, not on our choice.
For some spiritually advanced beings, it is quite different. They have much fewer defilements. They do have a choice as to where they will take birth, even in what form and in what family.

Q: Where does the karma "hang out"?
Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche: When you find the location of the mind or the consciousness, you will also find where the karma "hangs out."

Q: Often I hear stories like the about a person hitting someone with a stick, for which action they could suffer a thousand years in a hell realm. They would suffer this incredible amount of time in the hell realms for what seems like a rather minor action. Somehow it is hard not to think the karma or the punishment should be more equal to the negative action. Could you explain that?
Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche: That could be answered very logically. If we plant one seed of barley, when it matures we will have several grains of barley. The result is always more than what we started with.

Q: Could you elaborate on the importance of spiritual friends and how a person can develop and maintain a relationship with a spiritual friend in contemporary society?
Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche: A beginner on the spiritual path is very much like an infant. The upbringing of the infant is based on what sort of environment and family he or she is brought up with. We are very easily influenced, just as an infant is, and we are very dependent on those who are spiritually well balanced, those we call spiritual friends. With their example of devotion to the spiritual path, we learn as we grow in that path.
For example, if you are living with a group of smokers, you are influenced by the smokers and learn to smoke. If you are living with a group of heavy drinkers, you become a drinker. If you are living with a group of drug users, you learn to use drugs. We are not born with all those addictions; we are influenced by those around us, based on the strength of the influence in our environment.
Spiritual growth is very similar. Right now, being like infants, we have to depend on the spiritual friend. Although the Dharma is very new in the United States, there are quite a few people who are devoted to spiritual practice. It is helpful to be around such people so we can lead and inspire each other in virtuous activities, becoming very strong minded in the goal. Once you have become strong in the spiritual path yourself, (or balanced, you could say) then even if you mix with nonvirtuous people, they cannot influence you. That is what it means to become strong in that way. Until you become that strong, a spiritual friend is necessary.
If you are around practitioners (preferably with masters, but they are not always available) even ordinary practitioners can help inspire each other not to engage in harmful activities of body, speech, and mind. Together, many practitioners may be able to make a perfect environment for the practice. It is like burning a branch of wood. It is very difficult to make a fire with only one piece of wood, but with a collection of many branches together, you can have a big fire. Likewise, even if you are not all realized, even a collection of beginners in the Dharma can develop a good practice together. That would be a positive thing to look for.

Q: I have a question with regard to basically the first of the nonvirtuous activities and the tenth: killing and holding wrong views. One of the things that was stated, and maybe you could give us an example, is that when the tenth negative action (holding wrong views) is combined with the first (killing), one goes through endless hell realms. Does that mean that the hell realms otherwise are not endless, and that this one is?
Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche: Compared to the hell realm called NAR ME, which really means "ceaseless" or "uninterrupted" (not "eternal"), the other hell realms have some sense of possibly experiencing a break from the torture, so to speak. Ordinarily speaking, there are eighteen levels of hell realms, based on the intensity of the negative karma. The one called NAR ME is the lowest of the eighteen. For example, there is one hell realm where beings experience birth and death ten thousand times in one day. When they are first born, when they are dead, and before birth after the death, there is a little gap in the torture. Compare to that, NAR ME has no gap at all, which is why we say it is uninterrupted.

Q: Could you give us an example of what might produce that result for us?
Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche: The cause of such rebirth is the intensity of believing in the wrong view. Based on a belief in the wrong view, you spend your entire life believing the wrong view and engaging in the ten unvirtuous actions we talked about, and you end your life in such a way. You do not believe in virtue. Not having believed in virtue, you make no attempt to practice virtue or to feel remorse for what you have done wrong. When you die in that manner, doing all the negative things, enjoying them, and not believing, that would be the cause of such rebirth in that hell realm.

Q: You said there is no way out of this, once born in that realm?
Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche: There is a way out, but it is a very long way. It is based on kalpas--the life span in this realm is a kalpa, which is an incredibly long span of time.

Q: Throughout human history, it seems that human beings have created more negative than positive karma, and that therefore human beings have gone into the other realms, instead of the human realms or into enlightenment. How is it that, at least right now, there are more and more human beings on this Earth? How is it that we are increasing in numbers rather than decreasing?
Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche: Looking at the history of our own world--this planet--it is very true that more beings are engaging in negative activities than positive ones. We need to understand that the human birth has great advantages as well as great disadvantages. The advantages are that if we are seriously devoted to the practice, enlightenment is possible in one lifetime. However, if we are very involved with doing harm to beings, human consciousness is so very creative and powerful that a person can create tremendous negative karma.
Asking why we are experiencing an increasing population in our world when the majority of beings engage in negative actions shows that you are not fully accepting that there are other existences or realms. According to Buddhism, there are billions of existences besides this human world. Yes, the majority of people in our human world are accumulating negative karma and falling into the lower realms, but there are other realms where beings are acting positively and then taking birth here. We are not generally aware of that; we just think of our immediate situation.

Q: Rinpoche, according to what you have been saying about action, the way people who are non-Buddhist (which is most of world) could accumulate merit was through positive actions to help others or to help the earth. Is this some of what you are talking about on a larger scale? I know there is a lot of anger and disappointment in the world. Can whole communities do this? In other words, instead of fighting each other or killing each other, or raping, or a husband beating his wife, or whatever.... Through this action that you are talking about, like thinking of good actions to do, could this work on a larger scale? I'm just wondering what you have to say about that.
H.E. Tai Situ Rinpoche: Okay, I think I understood. Anyway, I will try to reflect on it. I think maybe I'm being very presumptuous, but I'm allowed to be here, you know [laughter]. You all expect me to be, so I needn't be too careful.
I think in this world there is so much fighting, so many problems that people create for other people. The natural problems are one thing, but a person creating problems for another person is a totally different thing. All these things come from disappointment and dissatisfaction. Whether they are total misunderstandings or whether there is some ground for them, it is certainly an outcome of disappointment and dissatisfaction. It comes from that. But if I understood your question correctly, if people do something good and positive, then it doesn't have to be exactly compatible with what they are disappointed about. They are disappointed about some thing, so you don't have to find out exactly what they are disappointed about and try to do something about that. If people really put energy into doing good things, they don't have to have extra supernatural energy to do a lot of good things as well as do a lot of bad things. If they are really involved in social activities and the environment, there is no limit. The sky is the limit, you see. There are ten million things that you can do. So when people really get involved, I don't think they will have the time and energy to make trouble for each other.
I definitely believe that it's people who first are disappointed and dissatisfied. And secondly, they have a lot of time to do those negative things. It is not so easy to make war. It is not so easy to make trouble for other people. Initially yes, because the other person is not thinking about somebody making trouble for them. But once you warn the other person--hey you, I'm going to make trouble--then it wouldn't be easy, you see. So people put lots of energy, time and effort--they invest a lot to do those things.
Sometimes people think good things take time and energy but bad things don't take time and energy. That is little bit naive, because doing negative things takes lots of time and energy as well. I think this is quite important, that as a society at large we have the awareness and the individual and group effort to do good things, so that people's time and energy will be occupied by doing good things.
But if you are a Buddhist, a serious Buddhist, practicing Dharma, doing meditation, that is not doing nothing. That is total energy consumption. Meditating, praying, learning--that takes all the energy. So in that way, one can accomplish a lot. When I say not doing anything, I mean there is no hope, no aim, no motivation. If there isn't anything that you believe in, then you are just floating around. In that situation, the negative aspect is much easier, and then it is hard to imagine, because we are not involved in it, just how much time and energy these people invest in their activity when they are doing wrong things. I think we would be surprised if we found out. So I think that can definitely be avoided.
But then, of course, we are being a little bit too presumptuous to think that we can just talk about it right here and then have it occur. It is not easy at all. Also, human beings continue, and the maturity and positiveness of one generation does not guarantee the maturity and positiveness of the next generation. It has to be active all the time. You have to go on. You can't say, we have done it, that's it. It will always need constant regeneration, constant effort, and constant activity to continue.