In order to be sure that a certain person is not present, you must
know the absent person. Likewise, in order to be certain of the
meaning of “selflessness” or “the lack of intrinsic existence,” you
must carefully identify the self, or intrinsic nature, that does not
exist. For, if you do not have a clear concept of the object to be ne
gated, you will also not have accurate knowledge of its negation.
For Santideva’s Engaging in the Bodhisattva Deeds says:
Without contacting the entity that is imputed
You will not apprehend the absence of that entity.
There is limitless diversity among objects of negation, but they
come together at the root; when you refute this, you refute all ob
jects of negation. Moreover, if you leave some remainder, fail
ing to refute the deepest and most subtle core of the object of nega
tion, then you will fall to an extreme of true existence. You will cling
to the idea of real things, whereby you will not be able to escape
cyclic existence. If you fail to limit the object of negation and over
extend your refutation, then you will lose confidence in the causal
progressions of dependent-arising, thereby falling to a nihilistic
extreme. This nihilistic view will lead you to rebirth in a miserable
realm. Therefore, it is crucial to identify the object of negation care
fully, for if it is not identified, you will certainly develop either a
nihilistic view or an eternalistic view.
Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche
Within the dharmakaya which pervades like space,
The sambhogakaya is distinctly manifest like the light of the sun,
And the nirmanakaya accomplishes the welfare of beings like a rainbow.
I know all the details of karma, but I do not really believe in it.
I have heard a lot of Dharma, but never put it into practice.
Bless me and evil-doers like me
That our minds may mingle with the Dharma.
Things happen to us all the time that open up the space. This spaciousness, this wide-open, unbiased, unprejudiced space is inexpressible and fundamentally good and sound. It’s like the sky. Whenever you’re in a hot spot or feeling uncomfortable, whenever you’re caught up and don’t know what to do, you can find someplace where you can go and look at the sky and experience some freshness, free of hope and fear, free of bias and prejudice, just completely open. And this is accessible to us all the time. Space permeates everything, every moment of our lives.
Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche
If we are honest with ourselves, we know from our own experience that the more we try to find solutions to our problems through thinking about them, the more we start going around in circles, sometimes interminably. Buddhism counsels us to resist being abused by our conflicting emotions and to let go of excessive thinking. Emotions can be expressed in an unhealthy, self-destructive manner or in a healthy and constructive fashion. Similarly, we can think in a self-destructive, confused way, which reinforces our negative habits, or we can think in a constructive way. Buddhism emphasizes that overindulgence in conflicting emotions and distorted forms of thinking only reinforces our old habits, which solidifies our karmic tendencies even further.
In the teachings of the vajrayana, it is clearly taught that once someone attains full liberation, they do not become nothing. The process of purification finally reveals, and therefore there remains, an enduring wisdom that is of the nature of nonconceptual compassion.
14th Dalai Lama
How do we go about implementing in our daily lives the principles which are stipulated in the practice of the Six Perfections? Buddhism recommends living one’s life within the ethical discipline of observance of what are known as the Ten Precepts, or Avoidance of the Ten Negative Actions. Most of the Negative Actions are common denominators of all religious traditions. They are seen as negative or undesirable for society in general, regardless of any religious point of view.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
Once one has realized the nature of things, one no longer hopes to attain Buddhahood, neither is one apprehensive that one might not obtain it. One simply remains in the even state of all-pervading peace in which all notions of subject and object have been freed in their own sphere.
When Shakyamuni Buddha expounded his wisdom to people to show them the noble and profound ways they could conduct their lives, his intention was not to impress them with how much he knew or how well he could express himself. It was because of his infinitely compassionate concern for the benefit and liberation of all beings without exception, that he revealed the way of liberation from all suffering. Like the love of a mother who cherishes her only child, this was the loving-kindness of the Buddha’s teaching.
Temples and stupas — buildings that house sacred relics — reflect the heart and mind of the Buddha. Respecting outside forms of Buddha nourishes our own innate wisdom. Yet the true buddha, the awakened essence of mind, exists within each one of us.
You should see form like a man blind from birth, hear sounds as if they were echoes, smell scents as if they were like wind, experience tastes without any discrimination, touch tangible objects without there being in gnosis any contact, and know things with the consciousness of an illusory creature. That which is without a state of being self and a state of being other does not burn. And what does not burn will not be extinguished.
The nature of the mind is primordially immaculate, and yet it is veiled by ignorance and defilement whereby samsaric action is engendered. Thus the virtue of ordinary beings is feeble and inconstant; it is like lightning that flashes briefly between the clouds in a dark black sky lit by neither sun nor moon.
Such virtue, practiced fitfully, produces mere merit and nothing more. After yielding its result, happiness in the divine or human realms, it is exhausted like the plantain, the castor-oil plant, or the bamboo cane, which bear their fruit and wither.
By contrast, the miraculous tree of virtue combined with bodhichitta is like a seed planted in fertile, well-farmed land. It brings forth a copious and proliferating harvest: the abundant happiness of the upper realms of samsara, which constantly increases until the peace of great enlightenment is attained.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
We may enjoy some kind of temporary happiness in samsara, close inspection reveals that we have often achieved this happiness at the expense of others, or even through harming others, by cheating, stealing, and the like. In behaving like this, although we experience a fleeting happiness, at the same time we are creating causes for our future misery. It is like eating plants that are tasty but poisonous. We may savor them for a few moments, but soon afterward we will die. It is the same for all enjoyments that are linked with negative actions.
Remember that the disturbing emotions of anger, delusion, pride and jealousy are not beneficial in the slightest, but are extremely harmful. Again and again they create problems for ourselves and others. Engender the attitude that, “It is a bad idea to continue like that. I should change.” This frame of mind does not totally eliminate our tendencies to be involved in disturbing emotions. Still it makes it easier not to leap directly into them the next time the opportunity arises. Hence the first step is called ‘keeping distance’.
Yet for all the ease with which we connect and feel close to our pets and other animals, we all too often remain indifferent to the suffering of animals in general. As we smile at our pet’s antics or admire the qualities other animals display in the videos we enjoy so much, I think it would be good to reflect on our impact on the lives of animals more broadly. Many animals suffer terribly because they are put to work for our pleasure and comfort, or are raised for slaughter to satisfy our appetite for their flesh. We are able to be tender and loving toward the pet who sits at our side and yet be causing unbearable pain to the animals whose meat sits on our plate. We find this thoughts distasteful, and so we mentally distance ourselves by not tracing out the chains of causality and interdependence that link our bite of meat to the distress and terror of animals crowded together in narrow cages or filthy cattle yards. Our own taste for meat is a condition that makes us complicit in a chain of causal actions that results in suffering that we would never stomach if we had to watch it. That suffering is caused by us human beings and is rooted in our failure to recognize our connectedness to those beyond our immediate field of vision.
Life is a good teacher and a good friend. Things are always in transition, if we could only realize it. Nothing ever sums itself up in the way that we like to dream about. The off-center, in-between state is an ideal situation, a situation in which we don’t get caught and we can open our hearts and minds beyond limit.
If you can maintain awareness in the states of agitation and meditative equipoise, the pollution of disturbing thoughts will clear automatically, just like a pond that is left undisturbed. Do not consider certain mental experiences as good and worth cultivating and other experiences as hindrances that need to be abandoned. If you can develop this attitude, your mind will gradually be emptied of its unconscious contents: The karmic traces and dispositions and all the obscurations.
Beautiful forms are just like a mass of foam,
Feelings are just like bubbles,
Perceptions are like mirages,
Conditioning is like the soft plantain tree,
And consciousness is just like an illusion.
Everything is produced from fantasies
And from the nonexistent imaginings of a fool.
I have noticed that some people can be very critical of themselves. When people have low esteem or a tendency to judge themselves harshly, there is a danger that confronting their own faults can just end up reinforcing an unhealthy self-image. A negative fabricated identity can come to seem even more real and solid, and this makes it harder for people to transform. For such people in particular, but also for many of us in general, it is wiser to face our own faults within an overall spirit of forgiveness. Within relationships as well as within our own lives, we need space to grow and learn from our own mistakes. To that end, forgiving ourselves, as well as others, is a powerful tool for change.
Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche
To prepare for the bardo state, it is very important to always keep in mind that, “Whatever I experience right now, whatever happens, is unreal, illusory.” Such training will make it much easier to remember in the bardo states. The most crucial point, however, is to resolve on and rest in the state of rigpa, the nature of mind. Whether the world turns upside down or inside out, it does not matter: just lean back and rest in rigpa. We do not have to pigeon hole every single little experience that takes place as such-and-such, because there is no end to the ideas that dualistic mind can create. It is not at all necessary to categorize. It is more important to simply resolve to recognize rigpa no matter what occurs.