We have to learn to be kinder to ourselves, much more kind. Smile a lot, although nobody is watching you smile. Listen to your own brook, echoing yourself. You can do a good job. In the sitting practice of meditation, when you begin to be still, hundreds of thousands, millions, and billions of thoughts will go through your mind. But they just pass through, and only the worthy ones leave their eggs behind. We have to leave ourselves some time to be. You’re not going to see the Shambhala vision, you’re not even going to survive unless you leave yourself a minute to be, a minute to smile. Please give yourself a good time.
Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche
We often think the only way to create happiness is to try to control the outer circumstances of our lives, to try to fix what seems wrong or to get rid of everything that bothers us. But the real problem lies in our reaction to those circumstances. What we have to change is the mind and the way it experiences reality.
All phenomena originate through dependence upon something else and have no true existence of their own. The realization of this fact is the realization of emptiness, and with this realization, the kleshas cease.
If you can accept whatever happens – good, bad, or indifferent ~ that is the best practice.
Why is bodhicitta necessary for success in meditation? Because of selfish grasping. If you have a good meditation but don’t have bodhicitta, you will grasp at any little experience of bliss: ‘Me, me; I want more, I want more.’ Then the good experience disappears completely. Grasping is the greatest distraction to experiencing single-pointed intensive awareness in meditation. And with it, we are always dedicated to our own happiness: ‘Me, me I’m miserable, I want to be happy. Therefore I’ll meditate.’ It doesn’t work that way. For some reason good meditation and its results — peacefulness, satisfaction and bliss — just don’t come.
Awareness contains impermanence, not the other way around. But they have this in common: Our liberation comes from recognition.
To ease loneliness we first need to find friends within ourselves. We can start by connecting with our own positive qualities, such as love and compassion. We can learn to treasure and value these inner qualities and draw our strength from them first and foremost. These qualities are our inner conditions for interdependence and are our closest and most reliable allies in negotiating the outer conditions of our interdependence.
Thich Nhat Hanh
Why should I smile when there is no joy in me? The answer to that is: Smiling is a practice. There are over three hundred muscles in your face. When you are angry or fearful, these muscles tense up. The tension in these muscles creates a feeling of hardness. If you know how to breathe in and produce a smile, however, the tension will disappear – it is what I call “mouth yoga.” Make smiling an exercise. Just breathe in and smile – the tension will disappear and you will feel much better.
This is the essence of practice:
Pray to your Lama and, while praying, blend your mind inseparably with your Lama’s wisdom mind. Having merged inseparably, settle in the state of naturalness, the nature of mind.
To be settled in the state of naturalness, this fresh knowing
Uncontrived and unaltered, is luminous naked awareness.
When thoughts arise within that nature,
Recognize them on arising, and relax within that recognition.
Their arising and liberation occur simultaneously, like a drawing on the water’s surface.
When thoughts do not arise, that is non-meditation free from thoughts.
Emptiness, beyond meditator and object of meditation,
Is called ultimate wisdom present from the beginning.
Give up hope and fear; hold to the natural state of awareness.
Thoughts are delusion; stop following after them.
Hope and fear are obstacles; don’t go to greet them.
If you can rest within the nature that is beyond intellect and activity,
You will definitely discover the dharmakaya in your own heart.
Ideally, advice is instruction tailored to the circumstances, both immediate and long-term. The person giving advice should have the motivation to help others and the wisdom to distinguish right from wrong. The person receiving it should have the intelligence to understand it and the willingness to follow directions. It should be presented in just the right way, so that it is relevant to the situation at hand and easy to understand. Whatever it takes – either gently or harshly! Once the recipient sees both the benefits and the drawbacks of a course of action, the advice has accomplished its purpose.
Expect no reward for an act of charity. Expecting something in return leads to a scheming mind. So an ancient once said, “Throw false spirituality away like a pair of old shoes.”
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
Those who seek happiness in pleasure, wealth, glory, power, and heroics are as naive as the child who tries to catch a rainbow and wear it as a coat.
Do like this if you want to practice the true Dharma! Keep your master’s oral instructions in mind. Don’t conceptualize your experience, as it just makes you attached or angry. Day and night, look into your mind. If your stream of mind contains any nonvirtue, renounce it from the core of your heart and pursue virtue.
Moreover, when you see other people committing evil, feel compassion for them. It is entirely possible that you will feel attachment to or aversion for certain sense objects. Give that up. When you feel attachment towards something attractive or aversion towards something repulsive, understand that to be your mind’s delusion, nothing but a magical illusion.
When you hear pleasant or unpleasant words, understand them to be an empty resounding, like an echo. When you encounter severe misfortune and misery, understand it to be a temporary occurrence, a deluded experience. Recognize that the innate nature is never apart from you.
To obtain a human body is extremely difficult, so it is foolish to ignore the Dharma once having found it. Only the Dharma can help you; everything else is worldly beguilement.
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
People sometimes think twice about getting onto a spiritual path because they worry about having to give up so much. There is this feeling like, “I can’t be a good Dharma practitioner because I like to have sex, I want good food, I want to have money in the bank, and I don’t want to stay in a cave.” But the Vajrayana doesn’t place any importance on austerity. Or one might say it has a different interpretation of austerity.
Our culture finds this question of losing very difficult. It’s very good about getting. Our consumer culture, especially nowadays, is all about getting, getting, getting. We throw away those things which were fashionable yesterday but are no longer fashionable today to get something new. We don’t have that attitude, though, toward our own bodies or the bodies of others. We don’t think that we too need to be recycled from time to time, but we do. It’s ironical that in our society everybody talks very openly about sex, which in other societies is a big taboo. But in our society, the big taboo is death.
How do we become a qualiﬁed disciple? One quality to develop is open-mindedness. In other words, we let go of our own hard and fast agenda, of our likes and dislikes, and of our erroneous opinions about the nature of reality or the stages of the path. If we attend a teaching yet still hold strongly to our preconceptions about the path, we will evaluate teachers by whether or not they agree with our ideas. Is that a valid criterion for selecting a teacher? Such an attitude blocks us from learning because we’re holding on to what we believe and only accepting what validates our own opinions. In that case, we aren’t receptive to the Enlightened One’s teachings. To learn, we must set aside our own prejudices, be open-minded, and listen with a fresh mind.
We have created the illusion of a unique and unchanging self, an individual “I” that we believe remains fixed somewhere within us all the time as feelings and thoughts come and go. In Buddhism the term we use to describe this is “ego.” Our assumed identity leads to discrimination and splits the natural oneness of our mind into two. It imposes a dualistic relationship between our ego-self and the object, dividing experience into sight and the seer, feeling and the feeler, or thought and the thinker. This is the basis for our grasping. “Wanting this” and “not wanting that,” we project the attachment and aversion of the ego onto the external world. In fact, there is no “I” beyond our basic consciousness, no “I” different from the experience. The experience is everything. We do not have any ownership over it. If we do not recognise this and subdue these projections, we will continue to suffer.
In the past, perhaps people could justify actions that had a harmful impact because they didn’t have access to the right information. We no longer have that excuse. On the contrary, we have more than enough information. Once we know where to find it online, we already have all that we need to describe in great detail the patterns of interconnectedness that encompass all aspects of life on this planet. However, as powerful a resource as connectivity can be, and as great a wealth of information as it puts at out disposal, the way we use technology can make it harder for us to make the shift from intellectual to emotional engagement with the world it opens up to us. We now have access to far more information than we can reasonably process. Our response to the sheer volume of information to be found online is often to just surf along the surface of an infinite number of issues and events. We need to go deeper. Knowing more is not a substitute for feeling more.
14th Dalai Lama
Rigpa awareness, or Samantabhadra, is a primordially enlightened state, a quality of buddhahood that we all possess from beginningless time. However, this primordial quality of buddhahood is obscured by adventitious mental factors, our afflictions and other thought processes. Through practice, this primordial quality of buddhahood manifests. That is why, when all of the adventitious stains are cleansed, one is said to become re-awakened or re-enlightened.
Just as a waterproof covering protects against rain, diligence protects against all the circumstances and conditions that tempt us to give up on ourselves. Especially in meditation practice, diligence is required, not only to go beyond physical discomforts, but to work with the fear and resistance that arise in the face of letting go of ego fixations.