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!
The sky is pure, open space, free from all obstructions. The nature of our mind is similar: the afflictions, self-centered attitude, and other obscurations are not in its essential nature. Just as clouds may temporarily obscure the open sky, anger, attachment, and confusion can temporarily obscure our mind. When they do, the pure, open nature of the mind still remains; we just can’t see it at the time.
By generating the wisdom realizing the emptiness of inherent existence, we will be able to eradicate obscurations from our mind forever and enjoy the sky-like spaciousness of a purified mind.
Little by little, any pressure or tension is relieved by experiencing egolessness. Your shoelaces become tighter, your nails become brighter, and your toothbrush becomes lighter. When you take the attitude that the toothbrush does not exist and the brusher does not exist, you can brush your teeth much more easily. That is why we talk about a double-edged sword. The brusher has been cut along with the brush, so the toothbrush can brush properly and fully.
Thich Nhat Hanh
Happiness is not possible unless we are free from afflictions – craving, anger, jealousy, despair, fear, and wrong perceptions. Freedom is one of the characteristics of nirvana. Some kinds of happiness actually destroy our body, our mind, and our relationships. 2019Freedom from craving is an important practice. Look deeply into the nature of what you think will bring you happiness and see whether it is, in fact, causing those you love to suffer. You have to know this if you want to be truly free. Come back to the present moment, and touch the wonders of life that are available. There are so many wholesome things that can make us happy right now, like the beautiful sunrise, the blue sky, the mountains, the rivers, and all the lovely faces around us.
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
Meditation is one of the rare occasions when we’re not doing anything. Otherwise, we’re always doing something, we’re always thinking something, we’re always occupied. We get lost in millions of obsessions and fixations. But by meditating – by not doing anything – all these fixations are revealed and our obsessions will naturally undo themselves like a snake uncoiling itself.
In parting, I would like to give you one small piece of advice to keep in your heart. You may have heard me say this before, but it is the key point of the entire path, so it bears repeating: All that we are looking for in life — all the happiness, contentment, and peace of mind — is right here in the present moment. Our very own awareness is itself fundamentally pure and good. The only problem is that we get so caught up in the ups and downs of life that we don’t take the time to pause and notice what we already have.
14th Dalai Lama
One of the positive side-effects of maintaining a very high degree of awareness of death is that it will prepare the individual to such an extent that, when the individual actually faces death, he or she will be in a better position to maintain his or her presence of mind. Especially in Tantric Buddhism, it is considered that the state of mind which one experiences at the point of death is extremely subtle and, because of the subtlety of the level of that consciousness, it also has a great power and impact upon one’s mental continuum.
One of my teachers said: “First hear and study, then you think about it and you become it.” And that’s the point: We go from head to heart and that transforms us. Then spontaneously, what we say, what we think, and what we do naturally arise from our understanding.
If we meditate on the mind, we can understand the mind as it is. With this understanding, whatever good qualities need to be developed will be developed, and whatever negative qualities need to be abandoned will be abandoned. Along the way good qualities, such as faith and confidence in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha, the energy to practice, love, and compassion, will become stronger and stronger. All of this is just through understanding the mind as it is.
I know what loneliness feels like. Many people use the title His Holiness to refer to me, but I sometimes joke that His Loneliness would be more accurate. In my own case, although I do not connect to people online, I do have lots of people surrounding me all day long, supporting me in different ways, as well as other people coming to see me. It would seem I should never be lonely. However, I am seen as the reincarnation of a 900-year-old historical figure. In traditional Buddhist terms, the Karmapa is a lofty figure, on a par with the Buddha. People who view me in this way expect me to be a mind reader, a miracle worker, and perfect in every way. When they look at me, this is quite often what many people believe they are seeing. Forget about being on a pedestal, I am practically expected to float in the sky!
For so holy and exalted a personage, it is a little complicated to go about finding friends. Who wants to be friends with someone who is considered to be not entirely human? In terms of social media like Facebook, I am a public figure. This means I can have only a following and LIKES, but I cannot have FRIENDS. In any case, someone else maintains my presence on social media. If I wanted to connect with my friends on social media, I would need to use a pseudonym, which would be unethical for me. In any case, posing as someone else defeats the whole purpose of a real friendship.
I know that my life situation is unusual, to say the least, but we all have to deal with unrealistic expectations that others project onto us. Such projections can leave us feeling isolated and prevent us from being seen for who we really are.
When our perception shifts to meditative or steady awareness, it is no longer narrowed by memory and expectation; whatever we see, touch, taste, smell or hear has greater clarity and sharpness, and enlivens our interactions.
Master Padma said:
Whatever actions you engage in, do not do anything non-dharmic that fails to become the accumulation of merit and wisdom.
Do not desire anything other than omniscient Buddhahood and benefiting sentient beings.
Do not be attached to anything. Attachment itself is the root of bondage. Do not criticize other teachings and do not disparage people.
All the teachings are ultimately indivisible, like the taste of salt.
Do not criticize any of the higher or lower vehicles. They are identical in being the path to be journeyed, just like the steps on a staircase.
You cannot know another person unless you can perceive with super-knowledge. So do not criticize others.
In general, all sentient beings are by their very nature spontaneously perfect Buddhas. They possess the essence of enlightenment.
Do not examine other people’s faults or delusions.
Do not examine the limitations of others. Examine how you can change your own.
Do not examine the shortcomings of others but examine your own shortcomings.
The greatest of evils is to hold religious prejudice and to criticize other people without knowing their mind. So give up prejudice as if it were poison.
When someone is angry with us, it might remind us to meditate on patience. When we get sick, our suffering can put us in touch with the pain of others. When things go well, however, our mind easily accepts this. Like oil absorbing into our skin, attachment to favorable circumstances blends smoothly and invisibly into our thoughts and feelings. Without realizing what’s happening, we can become infatuated with our achievements, fame, and wealth. It’s difficult to extricate ourselves from positive obstacles.
Make friends but don’t expect any benefit for yourself. Friendship only for oneself harms trust. So an ancient once said, “Have an enduring friendship with purity in heart.”
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
Aspire not only to understand the Dharma intellectually, but to understand it experientially.
Aspire to embody ultimate and relative bodhichitta, so that it’s not just your good looks, knowledge and political clout that attract and magnetize sentient beings.
Aspire to create connections with people – even those who catch no more than a glimpse of your brightly coloured T-shirt in a crowd – that result in the seed of Dharma being sown in their minds.
Aspire that your body, your bearing, your ideas and thoughts all, in one way or another, become beneficial to sentient beings. For example, if I suddenly had an urge to check the state of the stock market, may that mundane thought mature into a beneficial manifestation.
Aspire never to be reborn into the family of a billionaire, as such circumstances would mean you only see a rosy picture of the world and deprive you of the wealth of understanding the Dharma.
At the same time, aspire to become President of the United States, or of China or Russia, so you can skilfully benefit sentient beings with the powers that job brings you.
Aspire to become a prostitute in a seedy red-light district of a major city, and for bodhichitta to be born in the minds of anyone with whom you become acquainted.
Aspire to practice the Dharma thoroughly and completely and pray that you will not always be waiting for the right time to start practising. When you have time, go somewhere quiet and practise.
Aspire never to put off practising what you already know because you want to gain more intellectual Dharma knowledge.
Aspire to experience sadness.
Aspire always to take the right direction, however ignorant you may be.
Pray that when you chase after meaningless desires, the object of your desire will lead you to benefit sentient beings.
When you lose your temper, may you feel embarrassed at your behaviour and gain some realisation.
When you feel depressed, may that very depression be the cause for you to realise the truth.
And most important of all, always aspire to aspire.
Bodhisattvas comprehend exactly which teachings lead to the attainments of a stream enterer, a once-returner, a non-returner, and a worthy one who has exhausted defilement. They know which teachings sever the ties of existence, dissolve the processes of continued existence, and truly deliver the transcendence of suffering. Likewise, they know exactly which teachings lead to the attainment of a single rhinoceros-like solitary buddha. All this bodhisattvas comprehend by the power of genuine insight. Yet they do not actualize any of those attainments. Why? Because they think as follows:
‘The realms of sentient beings are my responsibility. I have roared like a lion, promising to liberate all beings who are confined to the wilds of cyclic existence. It would not be right of me to escape from that wilderness alone.’ Such is the bodhisattvas’ expertise with respect to the vehicles of the hearers and solitary buddhas.
Like the illusory face of this appearing world,
The movement of mind is not touched by artifice.
It is not altered by action, freedom or realization.
To remain in the depth of mind free of reference
is known as mahamudra.
Because awareness is as present in our lives as the air we breathe, we can access it anywhere, anytime.