We receive what we put into the Dharma. Our joyous effort brings good results over time. We are responsible for our spiritual practice, although we certainly depend on spiritual teachers to instruct us and a community of Dharma friends for support. However, no one is going to spoon-feed us. Our teachers and the Three Jewels are there to guide, teach, and inspire us, but we have to do the work of transforming our minds. As we do, we will become wiser, calmer, and more compassionate. Our mental and emotional clarity will increase, as will our sense of well-being.
To encourage curiosity and flexibility, it’s important to discover our limits, and then stretch a bit further.
Wishing to attain liberation from intolerable suffering, rely upon a wise guru. When the guru’s blessings enter your heart, your mind will be liberated. These things of samsara are meaningless or pointless, the causes of suffering. And since all of these things that have been done or made are pointless, look at that which is meaningful.
When the old plum tree suddenly blooms, the world of blossoming flowers arises. At the moment when the world of blossoming flowers arises, spring arrives. There is a single blossom that opens five petals. At this moment of a single blossom, there are three, four, and five blossoms, hundreds, thousands, myriads, billions of blossoms – countless blossoms.
14th Dalai Lama
Human happiness and human satisfaction must ultimately come from within oneself. It is wrong to expect some final satisfaction to come from money or from a computer.
The enlightened mind is like a bird in flight that leaves no trace of its path. People will say, “A bird just flew by.” In their mind, there is a trace of the bird’s path. This is attachment. For the enlightened practitioner, that moment is already gone—the bird has left no trace of its flight. Like the bird, from moment to moment the enlightened practitioner’s actions do not leave any trace.
Thich Nhat Hanh
Many people cannot allow themselves the time to sit and do nothing but breathe. They consider it to be uneconomical or a luxury. People say “time is money.” But time is much more than money. Time is life. The simple practice of sitting quietly on a regular basis can be profoundly healing. Stopping and sitting is a good way to focus on mindful breathing and nothing else.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
Effortlessly, the inconceivable qualities are naturally perfect. The only difference between buddhas and sentient beings is whether these qualities are realized or not. In terms of how things are, there is no difference between buddhas and sentient beings. However, in terms of how things appear, sentient beings are confused and buddhas are not. So confusion is the only difference.
You are good; fundamentally, you are healthy. Moreover, that particular health is capable of accommodating your badness as well as your goodness. When you’re good, you’re not particularly bashful about your goodness, and when you’re bad, you’re not particularly shocked by that either. These are simply your attributes. When you begin to accept both aspects of your being as energy, as part of the perspective of your view of yourself, then you are connecting with the fundamental goodness, which can accommodate all of these energies as part of one basic being. This is very solid and earthy. It is invincible in fact. That is the basic idea of good: that good can accommodate both wrong and right at the same time. Because of that, it is good. It is solid soil, solid ground.
We practice being able to stand back to see the thoughts, memories, feelings, and emotions as merely thoughts, memories, and feelings, as merely mental states, and not something solid or real. “Me” and “mine” are just mental states.
Compassion is not something to keep locked inside yourself. It is something to express in action. This compassion must persist beyond the thought, “If only their suffering would come to an end.” If we focus too long on wishing for something that we never pursue and that never happens, we run the risk of falling into a depression ourselves. When compassion arises, it is the time to act.
You say such clever things to people, but don’t apply them to yourself;
People of Tingri, the faults within you are the ones to be exposed.
Katok Rigdzin Tsewang Norbu
Svasti. You might have a hundred or a thousand teachers,
But the one who introduces you to mind’s nature is supreme,
Superior in kindness even to the Buddha —
To the root guru, I bow down in homage.
The very essence of your own mind,
Is entirely beyond arising, ceasing and remaining —
This is what followers of the Great Perfection
Call rigpa, pure and open awareness.
The essence of this approach is none other than
Taking this awareness as the path,
In undistracted, non-meditation —
So, without distraction, sustain the genuine nature.
What we call ‘stillness and movement inseparable’
Means that in stillness, which is beyond arising,
There is movement, which is beyond cessation —
Stillness and movement, arising and ceasing, are thus inseparable.
Undistracted awareness is the path of the Victorious,
And distraction is the playground of saṃsāra.
So maintain awareness without distraction,
Continuously, both day and night.
The nature of mind is clear light.
Sullying thoughts are to be purified.
But movement must neither be rejected nor indulged.
The stirrings of mind must naturally free themselves.
The source of virtuous action
Is none other than devotion for the guru.
So exert yourself in guru yoga,
And avoid sporadic practice.
There is no limit to what could be said,
But now is the time for essential practice,
So may this short explanation
Cause experience and realization to increase just like the waxing moon.
On whichever path you follow — the Mahayana path, and especially the Vajrayana path, which includes visualizations, recitations, and foundation practices — all practices are of course very, very important. But the most important practice of all is the cultivation of compassion. Without compassion, no matter what you do, it will not be the direct cause of enlightenment. For a practice to be a direct cause of enlightenment, you must have enlightenment mind. And to have proper enlightenment mind, you need compassion. Without compassion you can’t have the other qualities.
Very beautiful situations have developed using chaos as part of the enlightened approach. There is chaos of all kinds developing all the time: psychological disorder, social disorder, metaphysical disorder, or physical disorder, constantly happening. If you are trying to stop those situations, you are looking for external means of liberating yourself, another answer. But if we are able to look into the basic situation, then chaos is the inspiration, confusion is the inspiration.
Without the mind, nothing can have any meaning for us. Our mind does not create and direct everything in existence, but we can only make sense of the world through the mind and the mind is all we have to work with. There is nothing else. We need to train our mind because it is the mind which makes us suffer.
The result of practicing meditation is realization and experience. Meditation experiences are temporary and come rather quickly. Realization, however, is attained through the gradual process of meditation and is lasting. One has to work on attaining realization, and one should have no attachment to the experience of meditation whether good or bad.
Don’t expect to practice hard and not experience the weird. Hard practice that evades the unknown makes for a weak commitment. So an ancient once said, “Help hard practice by befriending every demon.”
May those who insult me to my face,
Or cause me harm in any other way,
Even those who disparage me in secret,
Have the good fortune to awaken.
Coming empty-handed, going empty-handed, that is human.
When you are born, where do you come from?
When you die, where do you go?
Life is like a floating cloud which appears.
Death is like a floating cloud which disappears.
The floating cloud itself originally does not exist.
Life and death, coming and going, are also like that.
But there is one thing which always remains clear.
It is pure and clear, not depending on life and death.
Then what is the one pure and clear thing?