How could we possibly measure
the merit accumulated by wholesome acts undertaken in an enlightened attitude?
Even commonplace acts become means for attaining Buddhahood (when accompanied
by the enlightened attitude). Thus a Sutra says,
"If you desire complete perfect Buddhahood,
You need not be trained in many aspects of the Dharma,
but only in one.
Which one? The Enlightened Attitude!"
There are two types of Bodhicitta: the relative and the ultimate. Since these are the basis of the 'eighty-four thousand Dharma teachings', it is difficult to give a condensed explanation. ( )
In brief, relative Bodhicitta is essentially compassion. Ultimate Bodhicitta is essentially insight. Development of the second type depends on the first. Phadampa said,
"A fish will take to water but not to dry land;
Realisation will not arise in the absence of compassion."
Just so ultimate Bodhicitta, realisation of the undistorted True Nature of things, depends on relative Bodhicitta.
Relative and Ultimate Bodhicitta
Teachings given by Venerable Ringu Tulku Rinpoche
This text is transcribed and revised from the original teachings. It is on the homepage of Dharma-Tor in agreement with Ringu Tulku Rinpoche.
Today I have been asked to say something about the Lojong practice, which is usually called as mind training. This is a very important practice as you know, mainly from the Mahayana tradition, and it's a training on compassion and wisdom. Although there are many different kinds of trainings, many kinds of ways of working on the compassion and wisdom, this is a kind of very direct and experiential way of working on what we call as Bodhicitta.
Bodhicitta is a very important word in Mahayana Buddhism, actually the key-word. In Mahayana Buddhism if you know Bodhicitta you know everything, if you don't know Bodhicitta you don't know anything. So it's the key-word for Mahayana Buddhism. And Bodhicitta is, if you want to translate it literally, it's like 'enlightened heart'. Citta means heart, citta means the heart, mind. The mind that - the aspect which is not just the thinking mind. But the aspect is much more larger. It's the mind, that is experience, the mind with which we experience including the thinking, emotions, feelings - all those together. That's the citta. And bodhi is the enlightenment; bodhi comes from the Sanskrit rootword called 'budh', which means to know, to understand, to have insight. So 'budh' ('buddha') is one, who has that, the one that has the bodhi. So therefore this Bodhicitta is the heart of enlightenment, or heart for enlightenment also in a way, because it's like an aspiration. In the beginning first it's an aspiration, aspiration for the enlightenment. It's something, that I really wish. I wish, that I don't have any problems, I don't have any sufferings, I don't have any pain. And I wish, that I have happiness, peace, wellbeing, and in the highest kind of happiness and wellbeing, and also the lasting kind of happiness and wellbeing. So I wish that for myself. But then what about my very dear ones, what about my children, what about my parents, what about my friends, so I want that to them too. I just don't want good things for myself alone. I wouldn't like it, if all my really dear people are suffering and having problems, and it's only me that is getting something good. And in this way, when I look kind of more and more widely, then I find that all beings have their own near ones, a dear ones, all beings are in a way - you know - one by one kind of connected. So I wish not only myself but all sentient beings to be free from their sufferings, from any kind of sufferings, from every kind of sufferings and problems.
I wish, that all these beings, countless beings throughout space not just human beings but every being wherever they are, I wish them to be free from suffering. But then I don't just want them to be free from sufferings, but I wish them to have happiness, peace, wellbeing, and that also of the highest level. Whatever can be the best, whatever can be the deepest, the best of the kind, I wish them that. And also I don't wish them that for a short time. I wish it for all time. So this - you know - what we call the four limitless wishes, aspirations, based on a compassionate way of feeling, that's Bodhicitta.
The four kinds of limitlesses are firstly, that there is no limit in beings, that I don't wish only this much, you know, this much people, only the human kinds, only this kind of people or that kind of people, or only in this world or that world, but to everybody, all beings. That's one limitless. The second limitless is, that I wish all the sentient beings free from every kind of suffering and problem. Not just one kind, not just rough ones, or not just subtle ones, but every kind of suffering and problem. That's the second. The third one is, that I wish that not only do they all get rid of suffering, but have the - you know - the realy, the highest, best kind of happiness and peace and wellbeing. That's the third. And then the forth is that it's not just for a short period of time, but I wish that for all time.
this, this kind of compassion without limitation, without any kind of reservedness,
no reservation, no limitaion, is called Bodhicitta. This kind of compassion is
called Bodhicitta because it is a very special kind of compassion. It's not a
small kind of compassion, it's a very ultimate kind of compassion. So that kind
of Bodhicitta can be generated, this is the understanding, that this can be generated
more genuinely, if we work on our compassion and on our wisdom together. Compassion
is, as you know, more or less wishing and wanting and feeling that I want something
good. I don't want suffering, I want happiness and good things, and I also know,
that others want it too. So therefore I wish, that I could do that. The compassion
is, I want good things for myself, and I want good things for everybody. I wish
well for myself, I wish well for everybody. I don't wish bad for myself, I don't
wish bad for anybody. That is compassion.
Compassion is not just wishing good for others and not good for myself. That's not compassion. It's not restricted to that. Compassion is good for myself and good for everybody. That's compassion.
I think, people have some misunderstanding about compassion. Many people come
even to me and say that compassion is too heavy: 'I have to be compassionate all
the time, that's too heavy. If I have to be compassionate, then I have to be nice
to everybody, I have to be smiling to everybody, and I have to let everybody do
whatever with me. I have to be like a door mat, everybody can walk on me, and
then I can't feel bad anytime, I have to be very
I think it's little bit not right. You know. 'And I shouldn't feel any selfish, I shouldn't feel any kind of selfishness, or any kind good for me, I shouldn't feel any good for me, I shouldn't feel - what can you say - I shouldn't feel any selfishness, you know, any kind of self-interest I shouldn't feel. I should feel only good for everybody, but not for me.' I think, that kind of compassion is not possible with us - not with me, maybe with you (Rinpoche laughs).
To my understanding for people like us, or the beginners, compassion is wishing good for myself and everybody. I don't think it is possible to have no self-interest, not thinking about yourself, not caring for yourself. I think, there is nothing wrong caring for myself. But not caring only for myself - there is I think lots of difference. If I just care for my interest and myself alone, and I also care for myself, that's two different things, I think. Of course I should care for myself. If I don't care for myself, who will care for myself? Nobody will care for me. Why should they? So therefore I should take care of myself. I should care for me. But I should care for others too. And I think, caring for the others and wanting others to have no suffering and wanting others to have happiness, is based very much on my experience, that I care for myself, I don't want suffering, I want happiness. If I didn't feel like that, if I didn't feel that I don't want suffering, if I didn't feel that I want happiness, then how can I feel that I want others to have the same?
So if I didn't care for myself, then caring for others is almost I think, impossible for us. As long as we have our samsaric state of mind it's not possible. So therefore I think it is - the way we start is that I care for myself. And therefore I care for others. I want to look after myself and therefore I want to look after others too. I wish good things for myself; so therefore I wish good things for everybody else, because they wish also like that. I think that is the basis of compassion. If we see like that, because I don't want any problems and sufferings, I know that everybody, who is little bit like me, human beings and other beings also don't want that so therefore I could easily wish that.
I think, that is the basis, that's the basis of compassion. I think, this is something very important actually, that - I see that I have lots of negativeness, negativities, I have lots of problems, I have lots of negative emotions, I have lots of faults, I have lots of weaknesses. And I also see that's the same thing with everybody. Nobody is perfect. Everybody has lots of negative emotions, everybody has lots of negativity, everybody has lots of problems, weaknesses, everybody is selfish, everybody is greedy, everybody has lots of fear, everybody has lots of anger, everybody can become quite nasty, including myself. That's the reality. I think, that's something we need to see and accept. And I think, that's very important to see this and accept this, because I think that's the basis of compassion. I know everybody has problem. I know everybody has lots of negativity, including myself. That's why I wish them (all good things).
If everybody was perfect, what need is to wish them good? They are already good. Because they have problems, that's why - you know - they have problems. Therefore I wish that they don't have problems. I think, if we see this clearly, that makes things very clear and very easy. I think, because most of our problems with people, to live with other people, to communicate with other people, to work with other people harmoniously is because of this, that we expect them to be very good. You know - we expect them to be better than they are. And also I myself expect myself to be very good. You know. And then it is lots of truble, because neither am I as good as I expect myself, nor is everybody as good as I expect them to be. Then I am disappointed with myself, I am disappointed with everybody. And then - you know - then there are problems. But if I see, this is the problem, that everybody is really selfish, everybody is greedy, everybody has lots of fear, everybody has lots of aversion, everybody has lots of problems, lots of sufferings, lots of weaknesses including myself, then - then it's much easier, because then I don't expect too much. Then I have lots of pleasant surprises. No? Then I have lots of pleasant surprises, because everybody sometimes can be nice. So very nice. When I find somebody nice, I feel very good, because it's better than I expected. No? But if I already expect them to be really great - you know, kind of embodiment of compassion, really completely generous and completely nice and completely then if I find them a little nice, I don't care. Of course that should be so. So that's the, I think, I find this the secret of living harmoniously with people is to see them very bad. (Laughing) More or less. And the same thing with myself. The secret of seeing myself - being very very satisfied with myself is to see myself very bad - as I am. Then I can work on it. You know? Then I can work on it. It's not that I cannot work on it. Then I can work on it. And then if I see a little bit of improvement, then I can be very happy. You know - yeah -. I have done something. You know. - I am naturally very lazy. So if I see myself writing a letter, I feel very good. I say - whow - I have done some work. I have answered a mail. But if I see myself really hard working and very good, then even if I send a letter - so what? You know? - So, I think, this is important.
Now I wish all the good things for myself, I want all good things, I wish all good things for everybody. Now that's the basis of our attitude. But then, what is the main reason why we have sufferings and problems? How is it, that we have so many problems, so much suffering, so much misery? Then we look at it, look at us, look at everybody, and we find out slowly, that my suffering or my happiness is my reaction, is my experience. It's very much based on how I experience things. So I could be in a situation, in one situation, the same situation in different ways, in different times, and I could feel differently, because we can actually experience the same situation one time as good and another time as bad. How I feel is even as I feel. If we are suffering from some outward things, that's only our way of experiencing. And if it is possible in any way to change something, to work on our way of experiencing and seeing things, then we should do so.
It is the understanding of all spiritual paths, that I have to deal with my way of experiencing. Outward things of course affects, outward things of course affects. There are some things, outward things that I can change, there is some things that I can not change. But my way of experiencing is because it's my way of experiencing. So there is more chance, that I can do something about that. So in this tradition say like Lojong, in all Buddhist traditions, we look there. And we try to find out, how do I react, and usually we find out, that the way we react with any experience is not very good. As I said before. You know? The way we react is, we react with our experience, that we experience through our five senses. We see things, we hear things, we sense things, we touch things, we taste things, we smell things. That's how we experience.
And then how do we react?
So now, when we see something good, when we see or hear something nice, something beautiful, something really good, how do we react? Oh, it's very nice, it's really nice, I want it. The moment, I say, I want it, then I have created a problem, because now I have to do something to get it. You know? So, till I get it, I am not happy, because - you know - till I have it, I don't have what I want. Not having what I want, is a problem. Isn't it? It's a suffering. So therefore I have to run after it, I have to do lots of things, which is sometimes quite a lot. And then, till I get it, I am not totally happy. But even if I get it, am I then totally happy? Why not? I am afraid of losing it. I don't want to lose it. So I have the fear of losing it. So not very nice.
And then another way, you see something not nice: bad, negative, something very terrible. I don't want it. Again trouble, because now I have to get rid of it. You know. Something that's not nice is coming, so I don't want it. So I have to again get rid of it. So it takes a long time, sometimes lots of doing, because I don't - you know - I am not happy, I'm suffering, if I have something that I don't want. Isn't it? So even if I get rid of them, again I have a problem because I have the fear of getting it back.
So therefore, if I react in this way, these two ways of reacting are called aversion and attachment. So if I react in this way, then I have got to have trouble. And that's how we react. So therefore now we need to do something about this way of reacting, we need to do something about this way of reacting for my own good. And also - you know - everybody else is doing this way. So therefore, if I can find a way to deal with this way of reacting, then I find a way to more happiness or real happiness, a way of reacting, which is not creating suffering. So therefore, there are different ways. There are the two ways, now in this Lojong-practice they have given two ways. And these two ways are called relative Bodhicitta way and ultimate Bodhicitta way.
what we usually do is first - in the text it talks about the ultimate Bodhicitta
way first. But actually the main practice is the relative Bodhicitta way. So we
will talk about this tonight, and the next in the next talk.
I will talk about the relative Bodhicitta way of doing this Lojong first because it is easier to talk about. It's not easier to do, but it is easier to talk about. But actually to be able to do that properly, we really need to know the other one, the ultimate Bodhicitta one. If we don't understand the ultimate Bodhicitta a little bit, we can't completely or really properly do the relative Bodhicitta way of Lojong. But anyway, we will talk about it.
Now here, when we say that it's our reacting with aversion and attachment, which is bringing lots of pain and suffering - . How why aversion and attachment, what is the root, what is the basis of this aversion and attachment? How come? How is aversion happening, is attachment happening? Aversion is happening because we say, this is not good, so therefore I should not have it. At the root of it is fear. The fear is the root of it. I don't want it. I don't want it. And not only the aversion, but also attachment, the root of it is fear. Because I say, if I don't have this, then if I don't hold onto this, if I don't have this, then no good, something not nice is going to come, something So actually the fear is the root of both, aversion and attachment - it's the fear. So therefore fear of losing, fear of not having, fear of having negative things, fear of not being able to get rid of them, or fear of having them again - so therefore the fear is the root.
So how do we work on that? How do we work on our fear? The only way to work on our fear is face them. There is no other way, because the more we are afraid of the fear, the stronger the fear becomes. You know, the stronger it becomes, then it takes shape in really horrendous things.
There is this story about a Tibetan. I think some people know this story. One person in Tibet, in the high mountains, it's very kind of very cold. So you know, it becomes icy very quickly. So one person was sleeping in a high plateau. And it was generally said, that this area is a little bit haunted. So he was sleepy, and then in the middle of the night he heard a voice, a shrill, very shrill, and very kind of thin voice, calling from very far. His name was Gi Ho Ja. So he heard Gi - Ho - Ja ---. He listened again and he heard the same. Gi - Ho - Ja ---. So he was very frightened. Is there somebody in this completely uninhabited country, somebody who is calling his name? And who knows his name? Nobody knows, he's a stranger. It must be a terrible kind of a ghost or a demon or a devil or something. So he listens again, and he hears the same thing. Then he's really frightened. So he gets up, he dresses, he puts the saddle on his horse, and then he rides and he runs. And then after running, running, running, after some times he again stops and listens, and again he hears Gi - Ho - Ja And he looks back, and there is kind of many people coming from behind him. Lots of people coming in the dark - you know. And then he runs again, he runs, runs, runs, runs, and then a long way off, then again he stops, and again almost nearer to him this voice as Gi - Ho - Ja and then he looks back, and again all these people coming and he runs, runs, runs. The whole night he runs and then he comes to his home. And he goes to sleep, goes to bed. And again he hears the sound Gi ---. And he listens carefully and he finds out, that it's from his nose. Because he's got a little bit of a blocked nose and then, you know, it's cold, so when he breathes, then it's kind of Gii---, you know. (Laughter) And he looks back and - you know - his fur-coat has become icy and all this - you know - standing up the woollen, the kind of furs in these kind of ways. And that, when he runs is like lots of people coming.
So, if we are afraid, then it becomes more afraid because of more things like that. So therefore we need to work on this fear. And for working with the fear, the only way is to face that. To face the fear. If we have problem say like going to a high altitude, a high place, then you have to go to the high place. No? If you have a fear of say facing a crowd - you know some people cannot face the crowd -, then you have to start facing the crowd. Isn't it? So it's the same way for your fear you have to try to face it. And this is a way of doing that.
There are lots of small preparations for it. But the main meditation, or the main practice in this is what we call Tonglen. That means giving and taking, giving and taking. And this is - taking what you don't want and giving what you do want. Completely opposite to what we usually do. That's the practice. Because usually we don't want to receive what we don't like, what we don't want. And we don't want to let go of those that we do like, we do want. So in this practice we give away everything that's very nice, completely good things, and we receive, we take on everything that's not nice. But based also with compassion, so what we do in this exercise is that when we breathe in, we feel that we are breathing in all the sufferings, all the problems, all the negativity of all the sentient beings, because we generally wish that all the problems of the sentient beings are not there, are cleared. So here we visualise. This is not an intellectual exercise. This is an experiential exercise. Because if we really have to work on ourself, then we have to do it experientially. It's not just enough to say that theoretically it should be like this, it should be like that. I should not have too much attachment, I should not have too much aversion, I should not have too much fear, I should not have too much hatred, I should not have too much anger, I should be very compassionate, I should be that's not enough. Theoretically, conceptually it's more easy to understand it, but that doesn't work. Conceptually understanding works on the conceptual level, intellectual level. That's OK, that's very nice, that's very good. That's view, philosophically you are OK, if you understand that. But that remains at the philosophical level, not experiential level. So if you have to change your way of reacting, then that doesn't work. You have to do it experientially.
So here we are attempting a little bit to work experientially. So therefore we are feeling - we are kind of visualising, feeling, that we feel that all the problems, all the sufferings, all the negative things of every being, we receive, we breathe in. We need some courage to do that. We need also some understanding to do that. And that understanding is the ultimate Bodhicitta. But let us forget about that for a while.
when we receive in kind of form of what ever you can, if you need a form, then
it's a form of kind of pollution, form of a fog, form of a smoke we receive. And
then, when we breathe in, we feel that it goes to our heart. It goes to our kind
of our real ego, you can call it in a way, this thing, which is afraid of receiving
negative things. And that is kind of really eating on it. That negativity is eating
on our fear itself, of our aversion itself. And then when that aversion, when
that fear is gone, that we have the wisdom coming out, we have no more fear, because
the fear is eaten by these negative things. And then all our peace, all our wellbeing,
all our enlightened state of our mind you can call it, our free-from-fear-aspect,
free from binding, that aspect, our natural freedom, our natural enlightened state,
that comes out in a form of - maybe this is also experiential, so you feel as
if a really bright light like a sun comes out, and then that the negative thing,
that we have taken in, when the sun comes out, the darkness is not there. No?
Even if there is a dark room or a dark cave, where there has never been any sun
or sunlight for thousands of years, if you put on a torch, immediately the darkness
goes, because the sun and the light and the darkness cannot sit together. Where
there is light, there is no darkness. So in the same way, when our fearlessness,
our Bodhicitta - our ultimate Bodhicitta you can call it, our enlightened state
call it, our freedom call it - that comes out after fear is eaten. Then that's
So then none of this negativity [Rinpoche snaps his fingers] - it's all finished, all gone in one moment. And then that positive ray, that's like sunlight ray of positiveness, which is complete peace, complete comfort, pleasure, happiness, joy, sense of really wellbeing. That I give: When I breathe out I feel, that I give it to all the sentient beings. And it really touches all the beings, and they feel the same as I do. So I do this again and again. When I breathe in - it doesn't need to be every breathing in and out - with my in-breath I feel that all the negative things are coming in and then immediately all my fear and everything is being kind of eaten into and finished. And then my fearlessness true nature comes out as a sunshine, and then that goes out and then touches all the sentient beings, and they feel the same joy and happiness. So this I exercise and do again and again. So when I dare to receive, I am not afraid to receive the negative things in an experiential way, then I lose fear for that. And that's what is eating the fear. When I am not afraid to give away every positive thing, every energy, good thing to others, I lose the fear of losing. So when I can work on this again and again, I am working on my fear, and aversion and attachment. So if I can work on my aversion and attachment, then my compassion, my wisdom is growing. And also at the same time I am caring, I am wishing positive things to everybody. So I am also in a way sending healing. I am healing, I am sending the healing. I am not healing just one or two persons, I am healing all sentient beings. So therefore the broader we send, the stronger it becomes. So that's the exercise.
Then we talk about little
bit on this, little bit more especially on the ultimate Bodhicitta next time.
Last time we talked a little bit about the Tonglen practice, the taking and giving meditation, based on Bodhicitta, compassion. And I said that this is mainly, it's also a healing to others. It has as much healing effect and may be more than any other healing practices. But it is chiefly, I think, working with our own, with our own aversion, attachment, and especially fear. So this is a practice which is working for our benefit and for the benefit of others, and working on our way of reacting, which is aversion and attachment. And then experientially daring to let go and let come. I think, from a Buddhist point of view, most of our problems in our psyche is this problem, that we can't let things come and we can't let things go. There is to be able to work with our emotions.
One of the main things, the most important way dealing with our emotions is that we get a little bit of confidence, that we can deal with it. Deal means not saying that all this is terrible, it should not come, you know, like 'I feel sad, I feel fear, I feel anger', and I say 'this is terrible, I should not have it, not good, please don't come'. Even if I say that, it comes. However much I don't like it or however I say to it don't come, it comes more. And sometimes we can kind of a little bit push it at side, and put it under the carpet. But again, you know, it's still there. And sometimes it's even worse. Because then we kind of pretend it's not there. And then it's very much there. Then (Rinpoche snaps his fingers two times) in one kind of a certain trigger and then go wild. So therefore that's not the way.
Therefore, what we need to work on, what we need to kind of really practice is, that - that's nothing, you know, we usually say, - that every arising you know like it's ... We say that our mind is like for instance the sun. Our mind means our consciousness. And all the arisings are like its rays. Because we have the consciousness, a clear consciousness, a bright awareness, then it's natural that all different kind of things come out of it - manifestations, its manifestations. So we can't say, this is a good manifestation, it should be there, it's not a good manifestation, it should not be there. It's, you know - whatever comes, it's like sun is there, the rays are there. So therefore we can't stop the rays, or we can't say that we want only the sun, we don't want the heat. But it doesn't matter. Whether it is, it is a problem or not is, how we react with it. If a negative emotion comes, and then we follow it, and then we get trapped in that, and then it becomes the overwhelming kind of a power, then we have a problem, then we have suffering. But whatever comes, if you can let come and go, then it's no problem. It's like the water flowing. If the water flows, then there is no problem, there is river. You know. It's a river, the river is always flowing, there is no problem, it is good, it makes, you know, things wet, it makes things grow, and it's OK. But if you try to stop the water, then it makes a flood.
If you are trying to stop the river, then after some time you have to let go. No? It doesn't work. So therefore the flowing itself, the rising itself is not the problem, but the way we react with it, that is the problem. So therefore we need to learn how things kind of come and go. So therefore as I said before, we need to kind of moment by moment, it's very important this moment by moment thing, because we think our mind is one long thing, our emotion is one long thing. I am angry, I am angry - but it's not I am angry, and I have this anger in me a long time. It's just your act again and again. Anything is momentary. This moment, this moment Say like this moment I hear something - he says, 'you are a scoundrel'. He says, I am a scoundrel (Rinpoche shows the reaction of aversion.) You know. Whatever something... (Rinpoche shows again the reaction of aversion.) And then next time he says that (Rinpoche again shows aversion.) - you know. It's kind of, it's not just one long thing. But we think, that it's a long thing, and then we see it as one. It comes like this. So therefore, when we work also, it's easier to work short, short, short, because anyway it's momentary, and momentary. So for one moment it's possible to work. This moment, whatever is coming, look at the mind, see a thought coming, and that thought you can let go. And this moment some other thing coming like a little bit of feeling or some kind of emotion. That moment I can let go. So I have to work on this moment by moment. And then if I can work that way, then I can work more deeply.
So with this kind of a meditation you can say - the Tonglen meditation - we are working on this, that we can let whatever we like or whatever we want to hold onto, or we are used to holding onto, we are conditioned so far to hold onto, we let go. And what we want to push away, what we don't want, we have resistance to having, we let come. And so therefore actually in a way it's a very, in a way it's a very easy practice, it's a very - you know - very simple practice. But in a way it's a very difficult practice. Because we are kind of a - you know - we are really going headlong like, what you call this, like - you have seen the bucks, the goats fighting. They stand up and then the horns - what do you call it - locking the heads, locking the horns, banging the heads. Just kind of bang their heads like this. We are doing like this with our ego. You know. (Rinpoche laughs.) What it doesn't want, ego doesn't want, we want to take it. And what it wants, also we don't want it to give, we give it. So it's like - you know - so it's not a very easy practice. So therefore people are sometimes frightened of this practice, because if I receive all those bad things - maybe I have really bad things. That fear is what you are trying to delay actually, and things like that. So sometimes we try to start with just doing it with yourself like - all the problems of your future you receive, or past you receive, and then you give back, or things like that. The past or future or, you kind of divide yourself in a way too, and then receive and give. These kinds of things you also do.
But the main thing that has to work on this, - it's a more kind of the deepest way of working on that, the deeper way of working on this, this fear, - is what we call the ultimate Bodhicitta. I said last time that we will talk about this ultimate Bodhicitta a little bit this time.
The relative Bodhicitta I said is compassion. Ultimate Bodhicitta is wisdom. And what is wisdom? Wisdom is actually seeing the things as they really are. That's wisdom. Wisdom is having direct perception, seeing things as they really are without distortion. Experienced seeing the things or seeing me myself or whatever directly without distortion. That's wisdom. Wisdom is not information. Wisdom is just - you know - being able to experience, if talking about myself, in my natural way, directly without any condition, any pattern, any neurosis, anything, just directly. That's wisdom. So from a Buddhist point of view the main reason why you have aversion and attachment and fear and all this is, we believe, because of what we call ignorance.
And ignorance means against, you know, the opposite of wisdom. Ignorance is not seeing things directly as it is, but in a distorted way. Seeing myself in a distorted way, I view myself as if distorted, in a little bit distorted way, so therefore I don't really exactly know who I am. So therefore I have ignorance. Therefore I cannot have wisdom. Therefore I have fear and aversion and attachment, and therefore I am in Samsara. Therefore I have all the problems. That's the idea in the Buddhist way of seeing. Now, what is this distortion. Now this is - what is it that we call 'I'? What is it that - what am I? Not who am I, no, but what am I - that's the main question, I think. What is it, that I call 'me'? And we think 'I am' of course - this is me. What are you talking about? You must be crazy. This is me! And then, you know, what is this, which one? This, or this, or what - (Rinpoche points at parts of the body) is it one thing? This is - you mean the body? OK. This body, this is me? This body is me? But is this body then one thing? Body is not one thing. Body is many things, is made of so many things. And all these things are chancing all the time, is made of - I don't know - hundreds of thousands of millions of cells, and it's what is always changing and moving and things like that. It's like a - you know -.
I once went to the doctor to check my blood. And he took just like a little this - (Rinpoche tips on his finger) and put it on a glass and put it under the computer. And it saw - it's like space, you know, things moving here and there, and then there were some things also with halos, like planets, and then there is this micro-organisms this big. You know. (Laughter, because Rinpoche shows a big distance with his arms.) There is in that, in the - you know - the blood testing in the computer, it was just a whole world, a whole universe was there. So it's like that.
Our body is not just one thing. It's lots of things. Too many things. And also when we say, this is my body, this is my body, we say. Although this is my hand, now I say this is me. But if in some case I amputate my hand, then it's not me anymore, you know. It's finished, it's not me. So it can't be me. So therefore my body is not me, it's just my, we say, we think - you know. And then what else is there? My mind. What is my mind? We try to find out inside our body, outside our body, you know. We can't really find something. Of course there is this consciousness that we are aware. But that is also changing all the time. It 's changing. Now I say something, now I think something, the perceptions, that's awareness of the perceptions - that's why we are talking, we can see, we can hear what we are talking about. That is also, you know, it's not just an independent thing, it's an interdependent thing. I need to have an eye in order to see. If my eye is not there, I can't see. And also there is a need to have something to see, otherwise I can't see. If there is nothing to see, there is nothing to see, then how can I see? So it's not just one thing. It's coming out of many things. This consciousness is not necessarily just there. Sound - you know - we have all different kind of consciousnesses. The five consciousnesses. And it has to come through many things, all this. And then emotions is also like that, it's coming and going, and coming and going. It's not one thing all the time there.
So therefore, what I am if you look deeply, is a very complex thing. It's a complex, it's many things, it's an interdependent thing that, you know, I have all these things. From Buddhist kind of psychology terms we call it 'five aggregates'. But you can leave that aside. It's just too many things together. It's an interdependent thing. And there is not one thing, I say this is me. There is nothing called just completely one thing which is independently there, which I say, this is me. It's a lot of things that I say this is me. So therefore, but we think, this is our distortion. This is our way of seeing that this is me, there is something me, which is independently there, which is independently there on its own. Not an interdependent thing, but independently there is something called me. And therefore it has to be separate from everything else, because it is independent. If it is independent, then it can't be many things together, it has to be -. And then, when we see this I, I am there, somewhere, I don't know exactly where, but - you know - somewhere, it's really there, you know. This is my head, OK, but this is my hand, OK, this is my thoughts, OK, this is my emotions, but I am there. Sometimes people say, that because I feel, therefore there must be I. But this is from the Buddhist point of view the way we assume, you know. There is seeing, therefore we think there must be a seer. Because I think, therefore we assume, that there must be a thinker. But that thinker we can't find anyway. So therefore this assumed me, which is the thinker, which is the feeler, which is - that is what we call - that is ego. That's the, you know, our way of seeing the I. And because of this then we have all these problems, because I say, I am here, I am independent from everything else, I truly exist somewhere, it doesn't matter where, but in this body somewhere. So therefore everything else is others. Therefore we have now this way of seeing this is me and this is others. So when I have this way of seeing 'this is me and this is others', then everything else others is either something for you or against you. Now everything else that is not me, is either good for you or not good for you. So if it is good for you, then I must have it, so it's attachment. If it is not good for you, then it must not be there, so it's aversion. So I can't do any way, any other way, I have to confront with all this except me in these two ways. So then as I said before, we have naturally this conflict, this problem, this suffering, because I react whit aversion and attachment.
So therefore, when we react like this, when we see ourselves as an independent identity, then we have this way of reacting. But when we look at ourselves closely, there is nothing of that sort, there is nothing one thing, which is independently there. It's an interdependent thing, it's a changing thing, it's a moving thing, it's a fluctuating thing, it's a continuum. What I am is - I think more or less like a river. A river is a flowing thing. We say this is a river, this was there last year the year before, thousand years before, two thousand years before, but actually this moment when you sit here, that flows, is next moment not there. It just, it's never there moment after moment, it's the flow of river. But we think it's the river, the same river that was there for thousands of years because it's kind of a continuum. So what I am is more or less like that. It's a continuum. And if I see it like that, then I don't need to - I don't need to find kind of security, find - you know - I don't need to find something to hold onto. The river is flowing, the river cannot hold onto the banks. If the river tries to hold onto the banks, then there is a problem, because it can't do it. The river cannot hold onto the banks. So the more you try to hold onto the banks, the more problem the river has, because if the river was something like me, because it can't do it. So therefore that's the problem. So we are like the river, but we are trying to hold onto the banks. We don't want to change, we don't want to flow, we want to hold onto things, we don't want to let things go we don't want let -. But if, you know, the river is OK if it flows without - let it flow, there is nothing wrong. So in the same way, if we can let ourselves flow, there is no problem.
because we don't understand the way we are so, we think we are something - you
know - there is something to secure and to - you know - so to be afraid of. Then
everything else is something that threatens you, this should not be there, this
must be there, then all the problems and sufferings and things like that. So therefore
this understanding of myself as myself, the way I am, is regarded as the most
important thing, because then you don't need to be afraid, because - what is there
to be afraid of? Who is there to be afraid of? So therefore if I see this clearly
and from experience deeply, then I am freed, that's what we call freedom. Because
then what is there to be afraid of - because there is nothing to secure. When
there is nothing to secure, nothing to protect, then there is no enemy, you know,
nothing to frighten, nothing to make you afraid or fear. The fear comes from something,
you know, something will be happening, there is something to be destroyed. But
if you see this, there is nothing to be destroyed, nothing can be destroyed. That's
why Milarepa, one of the greatest poets of Tibet said,
"I was afraid of death, and thereby ran away into the mountains.
I meditated on the impermanence and death so much,
that now I understood deathlessness.
Now even if death comes, there is no fear."
If you know, that everything is changing moment by moment anyway, so death is nothing special, anyway it's changing all the time. So therefore this understanding of myself as myself, the way I am - if I see this clearly, then, you know, this seeing, experiencing myself completely clearly as I am, as an interdependent entity, as an, as a cause and effect, as a - you know - as a flowing continuum, there is nothing separate from whatever is, there is seeing but nothing called seer separately from there. And when I see this exactly what I am, then I don't have to react the way we usually do. Therefore because I understand experience it deeply, there is nothing to be kind of a destroyed in me. So therefore I have no fear, I am freed from the fear. And because I can be freed from the fear, I don't need to react in an aversion and attachment way. And if I don't need to do that, then I am enlightened - you know. So therefore, now this understanding, this realisation, it is a realisation - that's why from Buddhist point of view they say that enlightenment is a realisation. Getting free from suffering is a realisation. It's not something that you get. It's not something you get that you didn't have. Or you attain something that you didn't have. It's just, you see clearly what it really is. So there is nothing, nothing has to change, just your understanding, or insight, the way you see actually. So therefore this is the wisdom, therefore the wisdom is from a Buddhist point of view, wisdom is regarded as the most important thing to get out of our sufferings. So that's why we always talk about wisdom, talk about - you know - seeing the true nature, true nature of our mind. We talk about seeing the true nature of our mind. Because if we see the true nature of our mind, then we see there is no need to fear. And when we see this directly, experientially, then we get liberated from this.
So therefore a little bit of full understanding of that or full experience of that is of course - you know - the most essential thing and also a very difficult thing for us, because first we have to work on it.
We are not used to seeing that. We are very, very totally the opposite way as we said before. We have fear, we have lots of fear. Because we have this, we are a kind of naturally or generally this assumption of I something separate there and - you know - something So that's very, very difficult to get rid of. But if you have this little bit in the understanding, then it helps to work on it in this like Lojong. Actually there is nothing to fear. So therefore whatever you receive it's OK. Whatever you give it's OK. You are - you know - you are limitless. Each one of us is limitless, because there is nothing to really, - just one thing to be destroyed. It's not that we don't exist. We exist. But the way we exist is not the way we think we are. It's not that tomorrow we become nothing. It's not like that. We never become nothing. Because there is nothing to become nothing. So that's why there is no end, because there is no one thing. There's no beginning. Because there is no one thing, therefore there is no end. If there was one thing, then it should be the beginning, there should be an end. Because there is nothing, so what is there to end, what is there to begin. So therefore there is nothing to fear.
that understanding, that experience is the ultimate Bodhicitta. And when we have
a little bit of ultimate Bodhicitta arising, that means understanding or experiencing,
then the relative Bodhicitta arises naturally. Because if you have nothing to
work for yourself, nor your agenda, I have no more agenda for myself, then the
only thing is to care for the others. Then the real genuine completely unselfish
compassion arises. Till then our compassion is a little bit selfish, and I think
that's OK. As I said last time - you know - the compassion at this kind of our
stage can't be without total, without any kind of selfishness. Because we are
ourselves, the way we are geared, patterned, conditioned is selfish. Because that's
the way we react. So we can't be free, so therefore it is OK. I mean it's not
a question of OK or not OK, we can't be free. So therefore it's OK, it's good
to feel that I should do something good for myself and then others too.
Question and answer
How often should we do Tonglen? Should we do it, when we feel good to do it?
Rinpoche: When you feel good to do it, then you do it. But however you feel good to do it depends on - you know - how you understand it in this way. If you are still afraid of, too much afraid, then you can't do it anyway. But this is working on the fear. So of course there will be some fear.
Could I do the exercice, if I am ill?
R: Actually maybe this is not something good to say, but this is supposed to be very good to improve your own health. Actually it is said, that Lojong practice had become well-known in the time of Geshe Chekawa. These teachings had been brought to Tibet by Atisha, but they were not studied and practised very much. Chekawa had written down the teachings, and he had taught it to only a few people because he thought, that the practice would be very exacting.
In this time, in this area had been many lepers' camp, big lepers' camp. So he was teaching this to the lepers, and they were practising, and many of them were getting better, completely cured. So he became like a lepers' special teacher. And then one day - he had a brother - and one day his brother was listening to his teachings behind the tent. He was doing it in the tents. And then slowly, slowly he saw, that his brother - his brother was a very, very hard, angry and very kind of, you know, not so nice person. And then slowly he saw that his brother was kind of changing and becoming a better nice person, a very better human being. So he wanted to find out why this is happening. And then he tried to kind of little bit look at what is, what's going on, and he saw that his brother is always listening to the teachings behind the tent. And then, you know, he came to know that this is something which can be used to heal people themselves and also to work on your own. So then he started teaching other people, healthy people too. It's actually supposed to be good for your own healing.
But if you are doing it properly, I think, you are not supposed to be doing just for your healing. It's not really then the proper Tonglen. But it is supposed to have a very good effect on that.
When we have a concrete problem with health, can it be integrated in this practice?
R: The main thing is fear, I think. With this you work. Then you take that on. Especially you have a special problem like illness or something like that, then you take on that particular illness, especially from everybody, and say that this what I have, let this be completely be all on me, so that nobody has it. Everybody's 'flu (influenza) is finished. And then I purify it and then I send the 'flulessness out. - So my 'flu is also gone in a way.
How can I do this Tonglen practice in daily life? For example, I am a taxi driver, who meets many people and much suffering. When I try to visualise during driving, that's too difficult. Then I have just tried to be opened, to take on the negativity, and to be the other person.
R: Well I mean, maybe you are doing OK. But usually it's a purification. Maybe sometimes we do it in a way of prayer, wishing you can say: 'May all this kind of sufferings and problems be replaced by positiveness.' And you can in a way, you can take on, and then give. You feel that you are breathing in, you feel that you are taking in the anger and suffering and then giving back the healing and the peace. I think that's how it is done. Sometimes you can even take the help of say like you, you visualise, you think about say like Avalokiteshvara, the compassion, the Bodhisattva of compassion in your heart. And radiate light to this person and feel, that all the anger and everything of this person is pacified. And this way also sometimes you do. I think since this is a way, in a way a way of reacting. So maybe the importance is not too much on the visualisation, but the importance of the reacting, wishing and feeling. So I think, you don't need to do too much kind of take a long time like sitting there and visualising this and you see nothing else. I think that's not necessary too much. You can do it while driving, you know, just feeling. So you don't need to take too much time. But just by the way, like you can feel - you can feel angry while driving the taxi, you don't need time to feel angry. Or you don't need time to feel anything of that kind. So it's a little bit, I think; have to take it. If you can take it a little bit that way, then it's I think using this practice on daily life. There is of course lots of instructions on how to use this practice on daily life, but that's maybe the essence.
And also you know, those who cannot or do not want to do this in the beginning, there is also a way of doing it on yourself. First starting with doing it on yourself. But we'll talk about it next time.
How can we bring things we have understood intellectually from mind to heart?
R: You know there is this misunderstanding because of the translation. This I think I should say, because many of the questions are sometimes, I don't know whether yours is also but when - sometimes the scholars think that the people think, that when eastern people say - you know - 'mind this is like this' (Rinpoche points at his heart) - 'my mind'. The western people say 'my mind, my mind' (Rinpoche points at his head). So people think that all western people think that mind is here, and eastern people think that mind is here (Rinpoche points at head and heart). Which is not true. The problem is the word's translation. Eastern people say 'sem', citta. And citta and sem means, you know, what does it mean? It means thoughts also, but it means emotions, it means feelings, it means everything that you know. It is total, whole consciousness. It means the thoughts, emotions, feelings, consciousness, all this together is sem. So when people try to translate sem, citta, they ask somebody or look in the dictionary. 'What is sem in English?' 'Oh, mind.' So then they said 'mind'. But sometimes, you know, in the west mind doesn't mean that mind means only the thoughts, thinking. But eastern people also don't think you are thinking here (Rinpoche points at his head). They also think, you are thinking here. But that's not all of the mind from their, you know, sem. So that's the problem. That's one, there are many of this kind of translation problems. I was talking about this. Not myself alone, but all of us together made a big mistake in translation from English. I was among the first Tibetans who were learning English in India. I was with Chögyam Trungpa in (?) school and we were discussing this. And 'boring', you know, the 'boredom'. We wanted to find what is boredom, and tried to find a Tibetan word for it. And after lots of discussion we translated as 'njobdo' for boredom. And it is still used. But what 'njobdo' means is totally different. 'Njobdo' means sleepy, you know, it means just kind of a sleepy, feeling sleepy, and drowsy, and tired. That's 'njobdo'. But I recently find out, that boring is not that. There is nothing out of, nothing of sleepiness in it. It's kind of a, it's awake, but kind of unsatisfied. You know what it is? You know what it is! So I find that the translation was totally wrong. But still it's used. And those Tibetans who don't know exactly what - I mean, I think they know, but they still have to use this word in Tibetan because we translated wrongly. There are many things like that.
But of course it's difficult to bring the understandings in the mind to the heart. Somebody said this, I don't know who said it, but somebody said it, that the longest journey is from the head to the heart. Do you know who said it? I don't know either. Shakespeare? Could be, could be. Somebody in the west, because it's, you know. So it's like that. So the thing is like this: All this what we are talking about, you know, and also other, the bodhicitta is also to do with experience, to do with heart, but the first step is for us to understand in the head, intellectual. It's easier to understand intellectually. And then, when you understand intellectually, then you have to slowly - that itself is not completely. You can't say understanding intellectually is no experience at all. You can't say that, because it is an experience at a certain level. Intellectual understanding is an experience. It's our experience, understanding. But it is not deep understanding. It's not deep experience. We can understand something, but we react in a totally different way. You know? So therefore the understanding is not deep. It's at the upper level. So to bring this understanding deeper into our experience, then we need to kind of practise, means repeat, remind, use again and again. That's practice. That's why sometimes we call practice is awareness and mindfulness. We have only one, we have only one tool to bring this head to the heart. And that is through mindfulness and awareness that we repeat, I mean really it's mainly the repetition. That understanding we repeat again and again and again, and then remind again and again and again, and then at a certain time it becomes more and more familiar, and then familiarity becomes habitual. And then it becomes natural, because if it is a right understanding. - Even if it is a wrong understanding it can become habitual, you know. So if it's a right understanding, then it becomes natural.
Whenever there is spoken about selflessness in connection with the five skandhas, I grasp for Alaya-vijnana, store-consciousness, and think if there is an I, it must be the Alaya-vijnana. Why is the Alaya-vijnana not the self or 'I'?
R: Alaya-vijnana. What is that?
This is what we are talking about. It's a continuum. That continuum, this moment what I am creates the next moment what I am. That next moment what I am is creating the next moment what I am. So there is nothing one thing which is there all the time. It's just, you know, that's the continuum. That's the way - we can call it by many different names. Now this is something which - if we look at it, if we analyse it, we analyse, examine this, we don't find anything. Even this, this moment is causing the next moment and next moment. But there is no one thing there. Nothing goes from here to there. It's just this moment is creating the next moment. So therefore when we look at anything, whether you call it Alaya, whether you call it whatever, it's a continuum, you know, it's not one thing like - it's said it's not like a thread in a Mala. There is no thread. It's like a one producing something else. It's like - you know there is this about how the change goes, how the life after life changes. In Abhidharmakosha is given these five examples:
It says that like the recitation, if I say something, if I say OM MANI PEME HUNG, and you learn OM MANI PEME HUNG, how did it go from my mind to your mind? That's one example.
Second example is reflection in the mirror. So, when I look in the mirror, my face went into the mirror. How did it go? I mean, if my face is not there, then is no reflection.
Third example is the flame of a candle. If you kindle one candle with another, then is this second flame same as the first flame? And so on, if you kindle another and another and so on, is then the last flame the same as the first, or is it another flame?
The fourth example. If you print a seal with sealing-wax, so the imprint of the seal is different from the seal but interdependent.
The fifth example is the way how milk becomes yoghurt. Milk is not yoghurt. Yoghurt is not milk. But without milk there is no yoghurt. You know. But when milk turns yoghurt, how does it happen?
So these are the five examples. It says that in the same way, when our, you know, when changes take place in us like consciousness, when we take rebirth, nothing goes from here to there. It's a continuum. Or the moment by moment change is also like that, it's a continuum, cause and effect. It's a cause and effect. There is no -.
But that's one thing. Experientially there's another thing. When I am, say like - if I become enlightened, if I see myself completely clearly, if I have the wisdom, then my wisdom is very sharp, it's not, you know - usually this is something a mistake people make. When we say, that just now our samsaric state of mind is with aversion and attachment, so when enlightened there is no aversion or attachment. And also, there is not even a concept, no concepts, non-conceptual, no aversion, no attachment, no dualistic view.
When we say that, then we get a wrong idea: No concept means no thoughts, no duality means don't know who am I or who is others, you know. And then no aversion and attachment, no feeling, you know, so I am just like dead. Very kind of a - feel like a dead vegetable, potato. That's totally wrong, completely hundred per cent wrong.
Because this wisdom, we are talking about, is an experience of being completely natural in this process of changing and being, there is nothing you hold onto, there is nothing you need to reject, so therefore it's complete clarity, completely natural. This being completely natural, so there is complete clarity. So therefore we always talk about and it is always emphasised, especially in Vajrayana level - clear light, luminosity you know. Clear, it's a very, very bright experience. It's very clear experience, because there is no confusion. At the moment the way we react is with lots of confusions - kind of unclarity and distortedness and panic, especially the panic, and - so it's a very confused way of reacting. But the wisdom state is complete clarity because there is no confusion, there is no, it's completely -. So therefore they say, that the clarity of that time wisdom is - you know - hundred times, thousand times, hundred-thousand times more than what we can experience now. So that clear. Because it's that clear, therefore there is no need to do aversion and attachment, because you see from all sides. You see everything, you see, you are aware of all things completely. So therefore there is no need to just aversion or attachment. It's not from one side. So therefore this wisdom-experience is a completely clear and aware and vibrant experience. It's not a dull or wavery or kind of an unfeeling kind of a thing. It's completely clarity. That's why sometimes we call it diamond mind. So therefore from that experience, from the experience point of view, there is no change. So therefore sometimes they talk about the changeless nature. And Alaya is changeless nature, and you know, the pristine wisdom, changeless nature, the - in words like that, primordial state. So from that point of view, the experience point of view, there is no change. There is nothing. But you look at it from an examining point, analysis, there is nothing. You can't find anything. So therefore because there is nothing, therefore this experience is not need to have anything, so that's why it's a little bit difficult to conceptualise. Because if you conceptualise this, then it becomes another, you know, like self - I have this my Buddha nature (Rinpoche demonstrates pride). I have this Alaya. So it's like the same way. My Alaya is bigger than his. (Laughter) Or something like that. And then, you know, it's a way of reacting you would become the same as before. I might not, I might not be able to keep my Alaya intact. You know.
"May Bodhicitta, precious and sublime,
Arise where it has not yet come to be.
And where it has arisen, may it never fail
But florish ever more and more."