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.
As we go through life, we accumulate layers of ideas about who we are and what we’re capable of achieving. As these layers accumulate, we tend to become increasingly rigid in our identification with certain views about ourselves and the world around us. Gradually, we lose our connection to the basic openness, clarity, and love that is the essence of our being. Our awareness is overwhelmed by hundreds of different thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Some we latch onto because they’re attractive fantasies or scary preoccupations; some we try to shove away because they’re too upsetting or because they distract us from whatever we’re trying to accomplish at the moment.
Instead of focusing on some of them and pushing away others, though, just look at them as feathers flying in the wind. The wind is your awareness, your inborn openness and clarity. Feathers — the thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations that pass through our awareness — are harmless. Some may be more attractive than others, some less attractive; but essentially they’re just feathers. Look at them as fuzzy, curly things floating through the air.
As you do so, you begin to identify with the awareness that is watching the feathers and allow yourself to be okay with whatever feathers happen to be flying at the time. You’re accepting them without latching on to them or trying to shove them away. This simple act of acceptance — which may only last a few seconds — offers a taste of that open space of essence love, an acceptance of the warmth that is your basic nature, the heart of your own being.
Patience is essentially the ability to bear with suffering. It is the fertile soil in which the flowers of Dharma (in other words, the three disciplines) can grow and spread their perfume of good qualities. Encircling these flowers like a protective fence are the three kinds of patience. The first is the patience to bear the sufferings and difficulties that occur while one is striving for the twofold goal: Buddhahood for one’s own sake and the accomplishment of the welfare of others. The second kind of patience is the ability to put up with the injuries that others might inflict, while the third kind is the ability to confront, without fear or apprehension, the doctrine of emptiness and other profound teachings.
Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche
We continue in samsaric existence as long as we are covered by the emotional obscurations and the cognitive obscurations. These two obscurations are precisely what hinder us from attaining the state of omniscient buddhahood.
Don’t take outer appearances inside! Don’t project inner conceptions outside! Don’t enslave body to mind! Don’t occupy mind with body! Don’t attend to view or meditation! Leave mind unfabricated, just where it is!
Don’t expect to finish doing something easily. If you happen to acquire something easily the will is made weaker. So an ancient once said, “Try again and again to complete what you are doing.”
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
When you begin to notice the damage that emotions can do, awareness develops. When you have awareness — for example, if you know that you are on the edge of a cliff — you understand the dangers before you. You can still go ahead and do as you were doing; walking on a cliff with awareness is not so frightening anymore, in fact it is thrilling. The real source of fear is not knowing. Awareness doesn’t prevent you from living, it makes living that much fuller.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
When we speak of the “mind,” it is important to know whether we are talking about the ordinary mind, referring to the innumerable chains of thoughts that create and maintain our state of delusion, or, as here, about the nature of mind at the source of all those thoughts—the clear, void state of awareness completely free of delusion. To illustrate this distinction, Lord Buddha taught that there are two ways to meditate — like a dog and like a lion. If you throw a stick at a dog, he will chase after the stick; but if you throw a stick at a lion, the lion will chase after you. You can throw as many sticks as you like at a dog, but at a lion only one. When you are completely barraged with thoughts, chasing after each one in turn with its antidote is an endless task. That is like the dog. It is better, like the lion, to look for the source of those thoughts.
The victorious ones have said that emptiness is the relinquishing of all views. For whomever emptiness is a view, that one will accomplish nothing.
The near enemy of equanimity is indifference or callousness. We may appear serene if we say, “I’m not attached. It doesn’t matter what happens anyway, because it’s all transitory.” We feel a certain peaceful relief because we withdraw from experience and from the energies of life. But indifference is based on fear. True equanimity is not a withdrawal; it is a balanced engagement with all aspects of life. It is opening to the whole of life with composure and ease of mind, accepting the beautiful and terrifying nature of all things. Equanimity embraces the loved and the unloved, the agreeable and the disagreeable, the pleasure and pain. It eliminates clinging and aversion.
Although everything is temporary and dreamlike, with equanimity we nevertheless honor the reality of form. As Zen master Dogen says, “Flowers fall with our attachment, and weeds spring up with our aversion.” Knowing that all will change and that the world of conditioned phenomena is insubstantial, with equanimity we are able to be fully present and in harmony with it.