“Being a Dharma Elder”

Monday, October 12, 2009

I thought it should be ok if I share a little bit Her Eminence Mindrolling Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche said about what it is to be a dharma elder. For those of us who have been at this dharma thing for over a decade (as I have now, since the first retreat I did with Khandro Rinpoche in 1999 – which to me is really the beginning of when I got serious about Dharma (and also, since it was the first time I took refuge vows, it technically marks my becoming a follower of Buddha’s way too)- it is important to think about the importance of discipline for elders. and her explanation of how compassion comes out of emptiness:

“…as elders who hold titles, dharma is given more in action than spoken works. The elders in this sangha must always make sure their actions are diverging from ordinary way… We need to be a step ahead in better conduct, maturity, generosity, kindness, simplicity, revulsion, unifying meditation and post-meditation.  The conduct of discipline and self-awareness enhances one’s own understanding and unifies the view and meditation. One becomes a wish-fulfilling jewel for others. Your conduct itself becomes a strengthened voice for dharma.”

“Seeing the nature as is should allow you to become more free in embracing everything. Having a glimpse of shunyata (emptiness/fullness) mind and then forcing non-reaction to appearances doesn’t sound correct. (having an understanding of) “All appearances are mind “ should give more freedom to all appearances. This is a freedom to be involved, a flexibility with which you do not grasp to that moments’ expression. Rather than force abiding in shunyata, (one should) always bring about a supple way of freeing everything from your grasping, since you realize there is nothing to discriminate. Non-conceptual compassion is about this. ‘You know things are a projection of your mind, but if you take a bug outside (that is inside trapped flying against a screen)it is a beautiful expression of samboghakaya non-dual compassion. “

“(One should) Play along with saving lives, cooking food, all the mundane things like being important at a meeting, being a servant, mother, father, etc. And, you do (all these tasks) well, because you have no agendas, no discrimination. If the ending works, fine. If it is most tragic, fine. Kind of blah, fine. You simply play along with it.”

“You must learn to flow. The river doesn’t stop at every place it sees a beautiful meadow and says, “I want to stop here”. You most flow, there is no need of grasping. Being willing to flow by itself is compassion. To be non-conceptual, things must not be made more than it is. That would only be solidifying it. “

“Make aspirations each day. Live well. Prepare for death. If that happens, go forward with confidence.”

So, that is what I have been thinking about since the Annual Retreat. It’s an odd thought, that I am an elder now. Following both from what Rinpoche said above and from the view of my other lineage, the Drikung Kagyu, discipline/ethics is a VERY important part of the whole thing. Not only for one’s own good (since without discipline, one won’t get far – one will get distracted easily, for starters), but also for everyone else.

Khandro Rinpoche has said in the past something along the lines of (paraphrasing broadly here) “you are likely the only Buddhist practitioner that most people you meet will ever meet. So, think – does your way of manifesting speak well of the Dharma? If YOU met yourself, would you think, “Here is someone who seems genuine, who acts according to what he/she talks about, maybe there is something to this path” and be inspired to start sitting, cutting your actions that are really only harming yourself, etc.? Or would you think, “This person is a bit of a mess. I don’t think this buddhism stuff must work too well” and then turn away from the potential for using this human life to benefit others, rather than focusing solely or one’s own desires (or on “self-aggrandizing”, as the Drikung Khenchen Rinpoche likes to say).”

There is a great responsibility here to try to be the teachings. I admit to massive FAIL on that front sometimes, but I am certainly much better than I once was.

…And that’s it for today. 🙂

-LWWD/JTR
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