Relating to Your Path
by Lama Thubten Yeshe
from the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archives

Lama Thubten Yeshe gave this talk at the Chinese Buddhist Society, Sydney, Australia on April 24, 1975. It was edited by Nicholas Ribush, from the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive.
Lama Yeshe Those who practice religion or meditation -- whatever their religious philosophy or doctrine -- should never grasp any idea with attachment. Check up on that. Ideas are not fixed externally, from their own side; rather, you get some information from somewhere, perhaps someone tells you something, and if it appeals to you, your mind grasps on to it so tightly. This is very dangerous.

We often accept some ideas as good; "Oh, meditation is great." There are many examples of things that are beneficial, and of course, those who truly understand their nature and follow the right path will definitely find a satisfactory answer to all their questions. But the danger is for those who simply cling to the idea, the philosophy, the doctrine. Whatever your trip, you should not be attached to it. Again, I'm not talking about the external object but rather about the inner, phychological aspect. If you want to be psychologically healthy, you must avoid all such attachments. This is the way to achieve what Buddhism terms indestructible understanding-wisdom, the ultimate healthy mind.

Perhaps you enjoy your meditation and what you get from it, but at the same time you cling to the intellectual ideas of your spiritual path: "Oh, this is perfect for me. I'm getting results; I'm so happy." Then someone asks you what you're doing, and when you tell them, they put you down.

The same thing goes for you yourself. When people say you are good or bad, your mind should never go up or down in response. You know that words cannot give value to your character, that they can't change the reality of who you are. Therefore, why do you go up and down according to what people say? Because of attachment, the mind that clings, the fixed-idea mind. So make sure that when you do practice Dharma, you abandon attachment and make it worthwhile.

Check up on this; it is psychologically very interesting. If you don't react when somebody tells you that your entire trip is wrong, I'd say you have a pretty good understanding of the psychological nature of the mind. Without this understanding, you hallucinate easily and are easily hurt; your peaceful mind is disturbed -- by words and ideas alone. Our minds are incredible! Our ups and downs have nothing whatsoever to do with reality, nothing to do with the truth. It is very important to understand this psychology.

It is common to find people who think that their own ideas and path are perfect. But by strongly emphasizing how wonderful their own beliefs are, these people indicate that they are automatically putting other, different ideas down. For example, say I believe that yellow is a fantastic color. With logical explanations, I convince you too, so that you believe, "Yellow is the perfect color; it is so good." Automatically, there arises in your mind the idea that, "Red is not so good." There are two things; this is common. Especially in connection with religion should we avoid this kind of contradiction. Accepting one thing should not make you dark and ignorant of others. If you check up what's going on here, you'll see that it is not that you are just blindly following something external, but rather that your mind is unbalanced. If one view is too extreme, it automatically generates another that is opposed to it. This imbalance destroys your inner peace. The culprit is your own unbalanced mind.

This is where religious partisanship comes from. "I am a follower of this religion!" Then, when you see a follower of another religion, you feel afraid and insecure. This is totally your insecure mind, your weak knowledge-wisdom, grasping one extreme. Your mind is polluted; you do not understand the reality of the truth of your own mind. You must try to improve your psychological health. The purpose of practicing religion, Buddhism, Dharma, meditation, is for your mind to reach beyond the unhealthy, contradictory mental attitude. That's all; so you check up.

Lord Buddha himself exhorted his students not to get attached to his teachings: "If I give you this teaching, promise me that you won't get attached to it." Can you imagine? Lord Buddha's teachings are incredible, his methods are universal, but still we should not get attached to them. He even said that we should not get attached to enlightenment, nirvana, or inner freedom; we should practice without attachment.

However, this is very difficult to do, especially in the modern world. It is almost impossible for us to deal properly with material things, and this attitude spills over into our spiritual life. Of course, it is difficult, but you have to check into how to become perfectly psychologically healthy. Avoid extremes.

I mean, in our ordinary samsaric worldly life, if someone says, "Oh, Lama, I like your teachings so much, blah, blah, blah," we automatically grasp, "Oh, yes, thank you so much, I'm glad you like me." We never say, "Don't be attached." Just observe how we react in our own everyday lives. Check up on that. Remember Lord Buddha; his methods and goals were the highest, but he still admonished us not to be attached to them. "If you get attached to this, you are psychologically ill; you're destroying your chance of attaining perfect enlightenment." Isn't that too much?

Lord Buddha never said, "Join my group. Following my path is good; following other religions is bad." He never said that. Even one of the vows he gave to bodhisattvas was not to criticize any other religious doctrine. Check up why he did this. It shows a fantastic, perfect understanding of the human mind. If it were us, we'd say, "Follow me; I'll give you the highest method of salvation. The others are nothing." We regard our spiritual path as some kind of materialistic competition. If you do that, you will never be healthy, will never discover the bliss of liberation, will never discover everlasting peaceful enlightenment. Impossible. Then, what's the point?