Even when your realization transcends the very notions of there being anything to accumulate or purify, continue still to accumulate even the smallest amounts of merit.
The reason that we can’t find mind when we look for it is that mind doesn’t have an essential nature of its own. This nonexistence is what the Buddha called emptiness or shunyata. This emptiness does not need to be verified through complicated philosophical reasoning; it is simply the nature, or essence, of the mind. Both peacefulness and disturbing emotions arise from mind’s nature, which is not solid or dense; rather, it is empty of inherent existence. Because it is empty, its nature cannot be harmed and does not become defective or degrade with age or illness.
Seeing ourselves as fundamentally separate and independent inclines us to underestimate or altogether ignore the connections between ourselves and others. As happens in our use of electronic connectivity, we feel that we are here, while everyone else is over there, apart from us. We even imagine that we can do whatever we wish with no consequences for anyone but ourselves. Given the environmental impact of our consumer-driven global society, I believe we cannot afford to leave unexamined the assumptions that have allowed us to go so far down this road without noticing the collective effects of our individual actions.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
An unsuitable friend is one who is fond of distractions, totally immersed in ordinary worldly activities, and who does not care in the least about achieving liberation — a friend who has no interest or faith in the Three Jewels. The more time you spend with such a person, the more the three poisons will permeate your mind. Even if you do not initially agree with their ideas and actions, if you spend a lot of time with unsuitable friends, you will eventually be influenced by their bad habits. Your resolve to act positively will decline, and you will waste your life. Such people will prevent you from spending any time studying, reflecting, and meditating — which are the roots of liberation. And they will make you lose whatever qualities you may have developed, especially compassion and love — which are the very essence of the teachings of the Great Vehicle. An unsuitable friend is like a bad captain who steers his ship onto the rocks. Such people are your worst enemy. You owe it to yourself to stay away from them. In contrast, being with people who embody or aspire to gentleness, compassion, and love will encourage you to develop those qualities so essential to the path. Inspired by their example, you will become filled with love for all beings, and come to see the inherent negativity of attachment and hatred. Authentic spiritual friends are those who have received teachings from the same teacher as yourself and, detached form worldly concerns, are devoting themselves to practice in secluded places. In the company of such friends, you will naturally be influenced by their good qualities, just as birds flying around a golden mountain are bathed in its golden radiance.
When you are trained as Buddhist, you don’t think of Buddhism as a religion. You think of it as a type of science, a method of exploring your own experience through techniques that enable you to examine your actions and reactions in a non-judgmental way, with the view toward recognizing, “Oh, this is how my mind works. This is what I need to do to experience happiness. This is what I should avoid to avoid unhappiness.
The ground of loving-kindness is this sense of satisfaction with who we are and what we have. The path is a sense of wonder, becoming a two- or three-year-old child again, wanting to know all the unknowable things, beginning to question everything. We know we’re never really going to find the answers, because these kinds of questions come from having a hunger and a passion for life — they have nothing to do with resolving anything or tying it all up into a neat little package. This kind of questioning is the journey itself.
The reason we practice meditation is to attain happiness. With regard to short-term happiness, we usually mean either physical pleasure or mental pleasure or both of them. But if you look at either of these pleasant experiences, their root has to be a mind that is at peace and free from suffering. As long as your mind is unhappy and devoid of tranquility or peace, no matter how much physical pleasure you experience, your mind will not know true happiness. On the other hand, even if you lack the ideal physical circumstances of wealth and so on, if your mind is at peace you will be happy anyway.
When we think that something is going to bring us pleasure, we don’t know what’s really going to happen. When we think something is going to give us misery, we don’t know. Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all. We try to do what we think is going to help. But we don’t know. We never know if we’re going to fall flat or sit up tall. When there’s a big disappointment, we don’t know if that’s the end of the story. It may be just the beginning of a great adventure.
The short-term benefits of meditation are more than mere peace of mind, because our physical health as well depends to a great extent upon our state of mind. Therefore, if you cultivate a state of mental contentment and peace, then you will tend not to become ill, and you will tend to heal easily if you do become sick. The reason for this is that one of the primary conditions that brings about illness is mental agitation, which produces a corresponding agitation or disturbance of the channels and energies within the body.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
Enlightenment, inherent though it is in the mind, seems so difficult to unveil. But if you develop fervent devotion and fuse the guru’s enlightened nature with your ordinary mind, enlightenment can be realized. Truly, to meditate on the benevolent teacher is a spiritual practice more profound than any other.
Don’t expect others to follow your direction. When it happens that others go along with you, it results in pride. So an ancient once said, “Use your will to bring peace between people.”
Our life’s work is to use what we have been given to wake up. If there were two people who were exactly the same — same body, same speech, same mind, same mother, same father, same house, same food, everything the same — one of them could use what he has to wake up and the other could use it to become more resentful, bitter, and sour. It doesn’t matter what you’re given, whether it’s physical deformity or enormous wealth or poverty, beauty or ugliness, mental stability or mental instability, life in the middle of a madhouse or life in the middle of a peaceful, silent desert. Whatever you’re given can wake you up or put you to sleep. That’s the challenge of now: What are you going to do with what you have already — your body, your speech, your mind?
People everywhere try so hard to make the world better. Their intentions are admirable, yet they seek to change everything but themselves. To make yourself a better person is to make the world a better place.
Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche
The precious relative bodhichitta is compassion and the precious ultimate bodhichitta is emptiness. With compassion and emptiness, enlightenment is unavoidable. All the sutras, tantras, scriptures and oral instructions are contained within this. It is not all right to say, ‘I don’t need devotion, I don’t need compassion for beings, just meditation is sufficient.’ With compassion and emptiness, the view is automatically like a blazing fire. When this happens, the profound emptiness, self-existing wakefulness, very quickly arises in one’s being. This is unfailing, unfabricated, unobscured, the straight path for attaining enlightenment within rigpa.
In his infinite wisdom the Buddha Shakyamuni recognized that although beings may be bewildered and struggling with the results of their bewilderment, their situation is not hopeless. As he saw the workability of the human condition, the Buddha’s compassion became overwhelming. Had the plight of beings been hopeless, if there was nothing that could have been done, the situation would have been entirely different.
I see that samsara is suffering, but crave it still.
I fear the abyss of the lower realms but continue to do wrong.
Bless me and those who have gone astray like me
That we may sincerely renounce the things of this life.
14th Dalai Lama
In order to understand the profound aspects of the Four Noble Truths, the principal doctrine of Buddhism, it is crucial to understand what are known as the “two truths.” The two truths refer to the fundamental Buddhist philosophical view that there are two levels of reality. One level is the empirical, phenomenal, and relative level that appears to us, where functions such as causes and conditions, names and labels, and so on can be validly understood. The other is a deeper level of existence beyond that, which Buddhist philosophers describe as the fundamental, or ultimate, nature of reality, and which is often technically referred to as “emptiness.”
As a drop of water placed in the ocean becomes indistinct, boundless, unrecognizable, and yet still exists, so my mind merged with space. It was no longer a matter of me seeing trees, as I had become trees. Me and trees were one. Trees were not the object of awareness; they manifested awareness. Stars were not the object of appreciation but appreciation itself. No separate me loved the world. The world was love. My perfect home. Vast and intimate. Every particle was alive with love, fluid, flowing, without barriers. I was an alive particle, no interpretative mind, clarity beyond ideas. Vibrant, energetic, all-seeing. My awareness did not go toward anything, yet everything appeared — as an empty mirror both receives and reflects everything around it. A flower appears in the empty mirror of the mind, and the mind accepts its presence without inviting or rejecting
What we’re talking about is getting to know fear, becoming familiar with fear, looking it right in the eye — not as a way to solve problems, but as a complete undoing of old ways of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and thinking. The truth is that when we really begin to do this, we’re going to be continually humbled.
At its heart, Buddhism is very practical. It’s about doing things that foster serenity, happiness, and confidence, and avoid things that provoke anxiety, hopelessness, and fear. The essence of Buddhist practice is not so much an effort at changing your thoughts or your behavior so that you can become a better person, but in realizing that no matter what you might think about the circumstances that define your life, you’re already good, whole, and complete. It’s about recognizing the inherent potential of your mind. In other words, Buddhism is not so much concerned with getting well as with recognizing that you are, right here, right now, as whole, as good, as essentially well as you could ever hope to be.