Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
If your mind is always filled with the intention to benefit others, then, no matter what your actions may look like on the surface, the application bodhichitta will take care of itself. If you can maintain this attitude of bodhichitta, not only will you never stray from the path, you will also definitely make progress along it. When your body, speech, and mind are completely saturated with the wish to help all sentient beings, when your aim both for others and for yourself is perfect Buddhahood, then even the smallest action, a single recitation of the maṇi or a single prostration, will swiftly and surely bring the fulfillment of your goal.
When we watch a television program, we have no trouble identifying places, persons, animals, mountains, and so on. Through becoming involved with the program, we identify with what we are seeing and begin to feel an emotional response. Actually what we are looking at are not places, persons, animals, or mountains, but points of light on a tube in a little box. The confusion that is necessary to enjoy a television program is similar to bewilderment or ignorance, where the very vividness or intensity of the images of the mind’s lucidity overpowers the mind.
O father, this world is the site of karma;
beyond it lies the site of karmic result.
Whatever we have done in this life,
we will definitely experience in another.
Even small virtues and sins
can have extensive results.
Having been born into this site of karma,
why not opt for planting virtuous seeds?
Therein is nothing to remove
And thereto not the slightest thing to add.
The perfect truth viewed perfectly
And perfectly beheld is liberation.
The enlightened mind
Is without coming or departing.
It is neither outside nor within.
Transcending thought, it has no partiality.
It is ultimate reality, unlimited and unconfined,
Wherein there is no wide or narrow
And no high or low.
So set aside all anxious search for it.
Tulku Thondup Rinpoche
In the past, teachers often had to persuade their students to move to higher levels of meditations, as students were usually humble and cautious. Today, however, even beginners want to practice only the highest meditations, like the loving-kindness free from concepts or emptiness. They dive into ocean-like meditations without any clue of their depths, whether due to arrogance or being unrealistic.
The problem is that, if you try to meditate on high teachings like emptiness without adequate preparation from the ground level, you could very easily fall into the extreme views and experiences of nihilism or eternalism, while holding on to a subtle concept or thought of grasping at “a nothing” or “a non-existence.” Or you could become lost in a state of being spaced out, with your mind endlessly floating semi-unconsciously, while you are not aware of anything.
If these errors occur, though you might not be committing any gross misdeeds, you would still be very much recycling yourself in the chain of ignorance and confusion, which drag you further from the light of wisdom. True realization is the realization of the union of freedom from grasping at anything and the wisdom of self-awareness. But, again, high realizations will not take place unless you have vigorously trained in the preliminary trainings for a long time. Being smart, prosperous, youthful, or powerful cannot buy true realization.
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
When you check into a hotel you don’t immediately start thinking that you’ll spend eternity with the managers, maids, and waiters. Your home, your friends, your ideals and values are just part of a hotel experience. Sooner or later, you will have to check out and leave them all behind.
Suffering and Happiness
We look for happiness in all the wrong places. The Buddha called this habit “mistaking suffering for happiness.” We become habituated to reaching for something to ease the edginess of the moment. Thus we become less and less able to reside with even the most fleeting uneasiness or discomfort. What begins as a slight shift of energy — a minor tightening of our stomach, a vague indefinable feeling that something bad is about to happen — escalates into addiction. This is our way of trying to make life predictable. Because we mistake what always results in suffering to be what will bring us happiness, we remain stuck in the repetitious habit of escalating our dissatisfaction.
You can train yourself in this way to feel surrounded on all sides by goodness and benefit. Everything and everyone is benefiting you. The whole world becomes your personal benefactor and is part of you. You have not only been benefited in material terms. Those whose ideas you find useful, who brings out the best in you, who challenge you to grow — they are also your personal benefactors and form part of who you are.
Teaching yourself to see and feel in this way will make it much easier for you to feel close to others. It can make a tremendous contribution to your personal happiness and can certainly make you a more positive force in the interdependent world.
You exist as an idea in your mind.
14th Dalai Lama
Many people who approach the practice of Buddhism are willing to sacrifice one or two hours of their day in order to perform some ritual practice or engage in meditation. Time is relatively easy to give up, even though their life may be very busy. But, they are not willing to change anything of their personality – they are not willing to forgo anything of their negative character. With this type of approach to Buddhism, it hardly matters how much meditation we do, our practice remains merely a hobby or a sport. It does not touch our lives. In order actually to overcome our problems, we have to be willing to change – namely to change our personality. We need to renounce and rid ourselves of those negative aspects of it that are causing us so much trouble.
Don’t try to make clarity of mind with severe practice. Every mind comes to hate severity, and where is clarity in mortification? So an ancient once said, “Clear a passageway through severe practice.”
Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche
Enlightenment, or Nirvana, is nothing other than the state beyond all obstacles, in the same way that from the peak of a very high mountain one always sees the sun. Nirvana is not a paradise or some special place of happiness, but is in fact the condition beyond all dualistic concepts, including those of happiness and suffering. When all our obstacles have been overcome, and we find ourselves in a state of total presence, the wisdom of enlightenment manifests spontaneously without limits, just like the infinite rays of the sun. The clouds have dissolved, and the sun is finally free to shine once again.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
When about to settle in the natural way of mind-essence, some people merely try to stay conscious and aware. Then they rest in this state of mental consciousness with the feeling: “Ah, how clear!” Other people fixate on a state of utter void as if their mind had gone blank.
Both of these cases, however, are simply aspects of consciousness clinging to a dualistic experience. Whenever this duality occurs — between the clarity and the one perceiving clarity, the emptiness and the one perceiving emptiness — look into the nature of this stream of rigidly fixated mindfulness. By doing so, you pull up the stake to which the dualistic mind, which holds to a perceiver and something perceived, is tethered, and make room for the naked, wide-open natural state of awareness — a luminous emptiness without center or edge.
To apprehend in a nondual way this luminous and open, natural state is the essence of awareness. It is the dawn of naked wisdom, free from the veils of fixated experience.
So let the phenomena play. Let the phenomena make fools of themselves by themselves. This is the approach.
When things fall apart and we can’t get the pieces back together, when we lose something dear to us, when the whole thing is just not working and we don’t know what to do, this is the time when the natural warmth of tenderness, the warmth of empathy and kindness, are just waiting to be uncovered, just waiting to be embraced. This is our chance to come out of our self-protecting bubble and to realize that we are never alone. This is our chance to finally understand that wherever we go, everyone we meet is essentially just like us. Our own suffering, if we turn toward it, can open us to a loving relationship with the world.
Suppose a teacher gives us the mind transmission, pointing out the nature of our mind when we are at the beginning of our path. We have this wonderful experience and think that something fantastic has happened to our meditation, but the next day the experience might not be so clear, and the following day, even less clear. After a year we might recall, “Well, last year my meditation was really great.” This happens when we have no steadiness of mind. Shamatha helps us stabilize our insights, and for this reason it is the foundation of meditation.
On some gut level, below the thinking mind, we know there is more to our being than the masks that hide our true selves.
As I mentioned earlier, although the idea of being interdependent may be gaining widespread recognition only recently, we have always been interdependent. Nothing has changed in that regard. Nor is there any conflict between being an individual and being interdependent. The contradiction lies in the gap between our assumptions about how we exist as individuals and how we actually exist, namely as interdependent individuals. The only contradiction is between reality and our view of reality.
Amazing! These precious freedoms and endowments are rare as a daytime star; even when found, like a candle flame in the wind, they could vanish in an instant! Pondering this, most people seem like mad sea captains.
The root of practice is renunciation. So if you don’t use the key points of mind training to till the soil of your mind, hardened toward liberation, when death comes and you beat your chest with regret, it will be too late!