A Step by step guided meditation on the profound Mahayana text of Bodhicharyavatara by Patrul Rinpoche called “The Sun of Brilliant Clarity”
So as we continue with the text, Jeannie Pickett has made available copy of the refuge vows together with Atisha’s instructions. In general, the commitments of refuge consists of 9 things: 3 things to always observe in your body, speech and mind, 3 things to abandon, and Atisha’s heart advice.
Atisha in Tibet
Atisha was nicknamed by the Tibetans as ‘the Refuge lama,’ this great mahalama. People thought he’d be giving great high teachings; instead, he focused on refuge. After Padmasambhava taught in Tibet, there was a golden era. But then after 150 years, there was so much distortion of Vajrayana. People fell in love with the methods; they built up pride and ego. There was much knowing the words but not the ego-(exhaustion). They were not emphasizing training one’s mind; instead, there was exertion in teaching. Atisha was going to teach Mahamudra and Dzogchen, but he found the Tibetans had no idea what they were doing, so he was teaching refuge instead. Then towards the, end, he was teaching Mahayana, notably the lojong teachings were Atisha’s emphasis. Most of our elaborate teachings on refuge come from Atisha. Seeing in refuge and Atisha’s heart advice and instructions on bodhisattva vow. Bring it to the discussion groups. Don’t take precepts lightly: as things to keep in mind, these are difficult to do. Be sincere, but it is most important to understand the different aspects. If there are things you don’t understand, ask lopöns and MIs. Also, Lopön Barbara has been compiling the current text into a text that will be easy to contemplate. If you are missing on something, if you have sequential, will be made out for you, hopefully before you leave tomorrow.
We were discussing paramitas as part of the third division, “how to generate bodhichitta by cultivating the six paramitas.”
This must be understood correctly. It is not only as a way of doing actions, but to actually understand the importance of not just extending outward, but inwardly removing the adverse factors that don’t allow you to have your whole being be generosity, be ethics, be patience, be diligence, be samadhi and be discerning wisdom. This is knowing what to abandon and discerning the need for the six paramitas to be united with the 4 features.
The 4 conducive factors which need to be united, which brings us to the 2nd feature- nonconceptual wisdom or shunyata,
First, the adverse factors.
The first of the factors is the Wisdom that is non-conceptual, shunyata. The opposing factors can’t be removed until the wisdom of non-concept can be understood in the mind of the meditator. It will require examination of “What is the nature of the self that invokes stinginess? What is the true nature of phenomena, including your body and possessions? Likewise, what is nature of the others, and what is nature of the adverse factors will come up?” In short, as Shantideva says in the wisdom chapter, these perfections will never come if the true nature of emptiness of self and phenomena is not known. The label on phenomena makes us suppose that is the completeness of that entity that we grasp to, without having the wisdom to go beyond. Examine beyond the apparentness to see how many compositeness, how many factors, how many causes and conditions come together to create what we relate to. The appearances of sound, appearances of smell, appearances of sight, appearances of taste and appearances of touch are not independent, but are merely the resultant states of many different components. Simply widen the perspective, widen the view, make pervasive ones’ one perception of not only relating to a conclusion, or resultant state of many factors that are given a designation and imagining that designation it to be the sum totality of what arises. This is half understanding of how things are. When you understand little, but continually let linear division become basis of decisions and opinions, occur, biases and discriminating bias opinion based on profitable and not profitable will be there not allowing an impartial attitude to everything to be there. Where impartial attitude isn’t, there is a loss of kindness. We don’t want to be unkind, but nevertheless unkindness arises easily, or kindness is difficult because of opinions based on linear understanding, or a very small version of how things are.
For example, I always use the example of when we give credit to someone, when there is less understanding; we give credit to 1 or 2 people. Look at us over here, if we said thank you Tomorrow, when you leave, Very often, people say thank you to the teacher to a few visible people whose names you know. Whereas, there is hardly anyone on this land who hasn’t contributed. But not having lived on this land….but mind is so preoccupied with loss and gain that we can’t keep a pervasive view, and we get used to quickly making we come quickly to decisions on what we can say, what we can hear, what we can jump to in mind. We don’t want to be unkind, but we are unkind, it’s careless to everybody, careless in careless in acknowledgement of all factors. There is a lack of understanding of all factors, which builds to the point of linear thinking.
Linear thinking closely resembles uncaring attitude, which manifests more as unkind thinking, in the same way not understanding or making oneself believe there nature of … is making self believe there is a self that gains. Not seeing the total contributing factors that builds up any phenomenal display happens because we are preoccupied with self, there is speediness due to demands of self. Where you are constantly responding to the self, there is very little time for the others. We are so much a slave to the self and self-indulgences.
It becomes necessary likewise to actually know the root of kindness arises from true understanding of nature of self and phenomena. What is the nature of the self? Beyond my holding on to my notion of an independent self that self that exists I am its servant, and I have to fulfill all its indulgences that have to be given into, until you examine who it is, what is it? Beyond the hope of what it is and the fear of what it is? What exactly is this? Who is it that wants to be happy? Who is it that doesn’t want to be sad? Who is actually going to benefit? My constantly giving into these demands…Whom am I actually serving? Whom am I actually benefiting? When you examine this, see how like a madman, completely crazy living in delusion likewise is ones belief of self. Look carefully. In all of the teachings in various ways you have all heard this before, and I don’t need to elaborate here; it says the self isn’t there. But on the other hand, the mind makes believe it is there somewhere. It can’t be found, but we think it is findable. It doesn’t exist in any way, but there is a firm belief that it must be somewhere. This is nothing other than being mad, hallucinating, and deluded all of these terms that suggest a mental problem. This is how we allow ourselves to remain in our lives, the instigating factor of our delusions. anger is sustained from delusion, selfishness is sustained from delusion. Anyone who walks around – especially practitioners- gaining for ones’ own self where preoccupations of self is very strong, can be seen as no better than any crazy person with a mental disorder. That allows mental delusion to be sustained based on a supposition. Can’t simply work with that supposition. Question this. That would be questioning the nature of phenomena and particularly ones’ self. Beyond my assumption there is something, what is the reality, what is the true nature of what I hold on to? Is it just a discursive thought, so powerful it deludes the mind into generating anger, jealousy, desire, etc.? Questioning in this way is one of the strongest ways to make bodhichitta arise. Being able to cut the root where negativity arises. Awakening heart can’t arise until notion of self-existing; servitude to the self, as well as grasping to false grasping to phenomena are (eliminated)…. Then much of the approach of bodhichitta will be on a secondary level. I talked this morning about the secondary level of doing things correctly. It can’t arise as true paramita level because of indulgences of self. Will always create issues so, as Patrul Rinpoche says the second of the factors is thorough investigation of self and phenomena, the non-conceptual nature of self and other.
Third factor to be combined is various ways one may fulfill wishes of sentient beings. What are the ways one may be able to fulfill wishes of sentient beings?
3a: Generosity: Patrul Rinpoche says “Generosity can completely fulfill completely others by completely giving away completely our own possessions.” People like ourselves must, as soon as taking the bodhisattva vow, begin to think like a bodhisattva by Decreasing the number of things to get for self, starting with changing the time you give to yourself, gradually change to others. The space you give yourself, gradually lessening to giving space to others. The time you give to yourself, gradually change to time you give to the others. Also, material possessions. Especially with modern day meditators, mental simplification happens, but actual physical simplification needs much more work. These instructions should be taken as straightforward, so there is no need to beat around the bush. We should not need as much, and should be getting fewer things. Your house should be simpler, environment should be simpler, plans should be simpler, and different things to obtain should be simplified, minimized. As much as possible, each day, and each year significantly see how more simple your life can be. Until you train in making life simple, actualizing dharma for other beings will not happen.
Relationships are one of them. Relationships are good. But there comes a time where there isn’t a relationship, and that is also good. You all need to understand that you come alone, you leave alone. And if you encounter somebody in between that, that is very good, if not, that is also very good. There is that apprehension “everybody has a partner but me.“ In this sangha and others this is a big issue. Maybe if I start a matrimonial agency, maybe I will get more enthusiasm. (Laughter) On the other hand, everyone in front of a teacher is supposed to be dedicated to liberating beings. But you don’t give that aspiration much time. There are spurts, but it gets entangled in hopes and fears of the future, ambitions for one self. Relationships, it makes one think. How ARE you going to dedicate life to all sentient beings and along with that while also realizing all your dreams, all your plans, all your strategies, and plans? At a certain point, you need to know you can’t row across the ocean of samsara with a foot in 2 boats: one called “dharma” and “worldly distractions.” So far, many of you are able to do this very well. You will be split in half one day. It will be painful. I am watching this happen to some of you, and it is interesting to see.
Patrul Rinpoche said to be giving away possessions. For those who have received many Mahayana teaching on the Bodhisattvaacharya, you have taken vows; make it your practice every year to give away food, clothing, things that are helpful. You don’t have to go far; you can give in your own region. Do exert effort. Especially on auspicious days you should make an extra effort to give generously to others. These are the 3rd,the 8th, the 5th, the 25th, and the 30th days. This is not counting all the anniversaries (of the deaths) of the great masters. There are about 2000of those. So there are lots of auspicious days! (Laughter) But at least once, twice a month, giving generously to someone else. people on the street,. There are people you can feed, animal shelters. They don’t have to be in extreme pain or poverty to be generous. Among friends and family, where you can give time and care, concentration, help, these are activities that are far more powerful than sitting on your cushion and one day being generous. So take to heart these instructions of Patrul Rinpoche.
3b: Discipline: Discipline can arise to help others by being an inspiration of others which is why one maintains discipline, whether the Pratimoksha of monks and nuns, the upisaka, and the precepts of refuge and of the bodhisattva. These are to train your mind, of course, but also discipline is to be an example for others. Seeing those who embody the conduct speaks much more that is more effective than reading “this is an excellent path of practice.” If you see great teachers, for example if you see His Holiness the Dalai Lama, he doesn’t have to say much. Of course some of his teachings are exceptional, but if you really listen to some of his public teachings, as far as substance, it’s often the same. But at the same time, everyone who encounters His Holiness hears him and gets volumes and volumes on meeting their own heart, volumes on basic sanity, because of who he is, and because of his own discipline of compassion and wisdom. It is not dependent on profound teachings: a moment with him itself speaks more than many many volumes. For those taking on bodhichitta must maintain discipline of self for others. Some think you can be learned in Buddhism, but not disciplined of self. This is a funny thing. I have observed some say, “I am insignificant; I can say and do what I like. I can throw tantrums and this is somehow excusable.” That is not excusable. You are entrusted with holding the banner of dharma banner. Josh has been given refuge name of holder of victory banner, but not only Josh, but all of you. You all are. Your knowing the Dharma is not at all impressive. The dharma isn’t impressive until you can embody it. Would you rather who meet someone who knows the dharma very well but never practices, or rather meet someone knows it and embodies it? Who would you rather study with? You want to study with someone who knows it and embodies it. Simply…should be one who embodies. A person who meets you must meet not someone who is only devoted to the theory of dharma, but someone who actually practices. Discipline is how it fulfills wishes of others. Your discipline becomes an inspiration to the others.
3c: Patience: Patience allows one to become a benefit when able to be a benefit when it allows one to face harmful situations in the correct way. The practice of patience protects oneself in that moment when facing adverse, harmful situations. When they arise, thorough the practice of paramita of patience, one can transform adverse circumstances into the path of Bodhi, generation of awakenness. When paramita of patience can protect you when you face harmful situations, then it is said of your patience, then it can fulfill others.
3d: Diligence: Patrul Rinpoche said, “Diligence should be seen as help that can do whatever is necessary.” This simple instruction is to do what is necessary, not to do what you like to do should always be kept in mind. Diligence can only be said to be incorporated in body, speech and mind when we do what is needed versus what we want to do. Most often, we can’t transform our own nature or attitude and conduct because we give a lot of importance to what we would like to do. When you allow the “like” part to take precedence over any decisions, one must realize that, the preferences will ALWAYS come from a neurotic mind. No matter how much it tries to analyze, what reasoning, it will still be based on same self-absorption strong in self. (When) engaging in bodhichitta, you let like and dislike be, rather than instead doing what is required at that moment. As difficult as it may be, because you are on the path of transcendence and transformation, whatever the needed thing is, you exert effort in it is the powerful paramita of diligence with power to benefits sentient beings.
3e: Concentration: The 5th paramita of concentration is that which produces extraordinary perception which enables the basis of benefiting others. The traditional English translation of this text, there are other words written, it develops “clairvoyance” or “miraculous abilities.” I’m not sure how good those words are. To get close to Tibetan root text, “extraordinary perception” seems to be a much more suitable translation. Extraordinary perception is simply mindfulness. There is nothing more extraordinary than mindfulness. Without that mindfully being aware, there are absolutely no way you can be responsible to needs of the others. Training oneself to what is the need of the environment. You are really practicing the day you enter a room and appreciate a roomful of people and adapt to however the need of the room is, rather than the opposite of a lot of times, you enter a room, and are fond of “where is my place?’ and try to exert your self, expecting the whole room to turn and adapt to you and accommodate you. One must observe and examine within yourself this simple exercise-: “do you enter a room, or do you really enter into a room?” Do you enter into a room and do you adapt? If everyone laughs, laugh. It’s as simple as that, if you don’t know what happened, doesn’t matter. (Laughter) The more self-conscious you are, the more “self” there is, the more rigidity will stand out, you will physically stand out, verbally still stand out, mentally be uncomfortable. The feedback will be uncomfortable when you are self-conscious is taking self into a room. At the same time, those who can get away with moving, they go into the room and are able to flow, adapt to that. They are those who get along with everyone rather, whatever is the flow of the environment, they are able to …Adaptability and skillful means , the way to be of benefit to others, won’t arise where they are not founded on foundation of mindfulness. Mindfulness teaches the mind to not be so self- conscious about its own self, but to be more acutely aware of the environment. Being acutely aware of the environment is the basis….
3f: Wisdom: The 6th paramita, is able to benefit is when Wisdom becomes the Wisdom of discernment, clearly founded on foundation of mindfulness that knows what to adopt and knows what to abandon. Wisdom of any kind that doesn’t bring to one’s own understanding what to cultivate and what to adopt is not useful. flexibility and mindfulness there through power of Through Samadhi, must be finely refined, careful in knowing those subtle mental patterns, those actions of speech and body, knowing “this is not necessary to say this, do that, think that,” not necessary because it’s negative and pulling over mind to do not thinking in that way. “This is something to say, this is something to do, this is of benefit” you should think correctly in this way, teaching and coaching through wisdom of discernment. Where you know what needs to be cultivated. Does it sound fabricated? Yes, it is, but it is far superior to do it deliberation than not trying. Fabrication is needed to get used to it. The way you invoke the wisdom of discernment often, doing it regularly, will bring about you become familiar with it. It is the way you become familiar with anger, with selfishness because they have had more opportunities. Nobody says “I need a manual of anger, I need to do it, and step 1, step 2 and this seems forced.” One doesn’t say this about the negativities. Anger, selfishness, they come easily because they’ve been given much time. The opposite qualities, the good ones need more opportunity. The good qualities are rusty so they seem contrived. Allowing wisdom of discernment to be used often, flexibility arises and there arises truly being able to use the wisdom to be able to benefit. Otherwise, the cause of it is depending on wisdom of discernment able to adopt those actions of body, speech and mind that are virtuous actions, and equality as guarded to discern negativities, and equally give up negativities.
This is the 3rd feature that must combine together with the six paramitas.
The fourth feature is bringing fruition based on three levels. These three levels are the shravakas level, the pratayeka Buddhas, and the bodhisattva level. Your paramita practice must bring about the fruition on the sharavakayana level of the shravakas of the solitary realizers, must be able to tame mind with mindfulness. Must always be able to bring fruition to paramitas like a bodhisattva (embodies) absolute selflessness in actions of body, speech and mind. Likewise, the fruition of one’s six paramitas practice has you be brought about at the level of Buddhas, at no separation at all. Mindfulness, selflessness, and non-duality for all sentient beings at all.
This is in the text the brief or general explanation on the six paramitas; general definition, how they are called paramitas is only when joined with 4 features and detailed explanation of 4 features.