Making Adversity the Path of Awakening (continued)
Yesterday, we did “making adversity the path of awakening.” So there, environmentally, facing all kinds of difficulties– emotionally, defilements are increasing. So for those reasons sometimes, world is full of misfortune. In Buddhism, we talk about the relationship between the outer environment and the inner mental state. So when the mind mental state goes to a more negative way. I think we talk about karma. Sometime people misunderstand. Mainly, if we come into a lack of fortune of good qualities, then conditions can attack easier. Humans, non-humans, environmentally, attacks happen easily. If our good fortune is strong then other things can’t hurt us much. Sometimes, we think “just practicing this or that deity will solve things.” But we need to create vessel to receive that conditions. So, in the same way, decreasing the degeneration of the mind is needed.
They rely on each other. For example – and I am not sure this is true – but when the tsunami in Indonesia happened in 2005, most of those hit were coasts where fisherman live. Some think it was due to killing of animals. I’m not sure it’s true though. Don’t misunderstand that it is punishment. lots of things happen, increasing and increasing, up to our actions. If we develop more merit, lifespan, happiness, everything goes higher. If we get more material things, afflictive emotions of jealousy, competition come up. We don’t have much closeness even with one family due to money issues. Not everything external relies on internal, but they are connected. So, that’s why it says here “when misfortune fills the world.”
That’s why one should drive all blames into one, one way to try to understand the source of this result, but other way is to diminish self-cherishing. As much self-cherishing as we have, we get tricky mind. When you want to attend to yourself, excluding other beings, aversion will develop and attachment. The source of all that is self-cherishing.
Self-cherishing versus Self-care
But self-cherishing and self-care is different. We need to take care of ourselves for long-term self-benefit of enlightenment. For example, people think short term benefit, so they steal. If you think long term, you won’t’ steal, because you will get at some point caught, go to jail, get a criminal record, which will affect your whole life. If you can’t’ think that long term, you will considered doing criminal act. So we need to see in this way when self-cherishing is positive and negative. Problem will come where we become careless, and won’t become interested, won’t have desire to become Buddhahood. That is really necessary. So we need to make the differential – what is positive self-cherishing and negative self-cherishing? Positive – you care for yourself, you are not going to get involved in negative actions due to negative consequences. We can go too extreme. Sometimes we can become careless, then hopeless. That’s not good long term.
Lord Jitgon Sumgon said “A beginner should use self-grasping for positive means. If you don’t, you will get stuck with deep self-cherishing.” We need to make choice – clearly differentiate– what is a negative. In Buddhism, if we apply anything, this life’s benefit, even virtue, can become a negative. But long term, even appearing negative, can become virtue. Sounds like negative, but it isn’t completely when done with skillful means. For example, saying “I am the deity” is a pride. But saying I am the deity and I am good are big difference. If you use the soil – is really dirty – but used in farm, will lead to delicious food. Anything used for this life is 8 worldly concerns – looks like virtue but are non-virtue. Have to be careful when talking about that.
Be grateful to everyone.
Increasing one’s sense of how important the other one is. I mentioned yesterday, like or not, see or not, we depend on each other. For example, sports, one really good player, if the rest of the players don’t’ communicate well with him, they will lose. This is ancient example – put in one stick, anyone can break it. Put 10 together, they can’t be broken. We all need everyone deep down. Unless you want to be caveman. (Laughter) Especially in this modern world, we really need each other. Something happen in Asia immediately affects here. What happens here affects them there. This isn’t religion, this is realty. Religion says you need others to create merit. If there are others, you need discipline. Without other beings, don’t need discipline. Can’t have generosity without someone begging. That person begging helps you – gampopa – if you give something to someone that is yours. If you keep it in your house, it is not yours.
This is why we need to value others for our own benefit. Reality and religion need others. Especially enemies- if we have no enemies can’t do many practices. Milarepa – his aunt and uncle – all those bad circumstances made him turn to dharma practice see daily circumstance- all become teaching to train the mind, if used skillfully. Can you see? I personally- I did a retreat in the retreat house- 2-3 days felts something, then not so much, but when I apply things in my daily life, it really affects me deeply, also makes you less depressed. (Laughter)
Ultimate- emptiness- is the dharmakaya – absence of the 2 existents—exists like a dream. True qualities non-existent yet perceived. They are indivisible- can’t divide- smabhagoya. The union of the three is svnahbakayya. This is how we divide 3 kayas.
The best way is the use of 4 practices.
Accumulating merit, confessing evil actions, giving torma to gods and demons, giving torma to protectors.
Without cause, no result. You want to achieve good quality, want to develop cause. You want good thing, need to develop good causes.
In Asian culture, when someone is really a success, we don’t say “They are really smart;” we say “they have good fortune.” Some people are very smart, but not financial geniuses. Some not so smart, but make much.
Story – a poor practitioner did a wealth deity practice, to point of the deity talking to him and being a friend of his. But still a beggar. One day, the deity said “I’ll give you one siddhi”. The beggar said, “Where is my siddhi?” The deity said “it’s that piece of fat.” (Laughter)
Hindu story- Uma said to Shiva – “release all beggars from suffering”. He said “I can’t. “ He manifested piece of gold on a road. A beggar closed his eyes and walked over the gold! That is even Hindus believe in a creator, but individuals have to create their own causes. We don’t talk about creator, just karma. Merits very important. Especially with higher practices, when obstacles come. Some inner obstacles are due to lack of food and water, but some are due to lack of merit. Lots of mahamudra teachings talk about this. I’m sure you’ve got more Mahamudra and Dzogchen teachings than me. (Laughter) Wisdom is like fire, as much as we accumulate merit, we develop wisdom. Without merit, wisdom is shaky. Aryadeva said that “without merit won’t work; If a being lacks of accumulation of merit, not going to doubt emptiness. Getting doubt requires great merit. Without doubt, won’t question and won’t understand. Realization requires great merit.”
(Editor’s note: Rote memorization of doctrine is seen as an impediment to wisdom at this point. Actual insight will not arise unless one questions Emptiness and analyzes. Only, analysis until the exhaustion of questioning will lead to irreversible confidence.)
This was a problem in Tibet at one point. Someone said “accumulation of merit not needed”. There was a debate between 2 groups of practitioners, one of which was a Zen group. The Zen group argued that realization occurs like a “bird landing from the sky,” so the cause of the accumulation of merit was not required. Kamashila argued for the Vajrayana already in Tibet that “First, need a nest, then an egg, and then the bird is born and learns to fly before it can be “landing from the sky.” In this way, we need merit for these causes to occur. Kamashila wins and the view that the accumulation of merit and wisdom is required held. Some people have great accumulation of merit from previous lives, so dharma comes easy, but this is very few people.
Confession of evil action.
We use this with 4 powers- power of regret, resolve, reliance, remedy. Have to use 4 powers to purify. Atisha said “a negative is always a negative, except that it can be purified.” First,
- Regret- need to regret – if we don’t have regret, we don’t understand what is right or wrong, otherwise, won’t want to give it up.
- Resolve- I am not going to repeat this anymore,
- Reliance- rely on Vajrasattva, 3 jewels, confession in front of 37 Buddhas,
- Remedy- the antidote. So many different texts. Some say meditate on bodhichitta, purify your negative karma. Some say compassion, purify your negative karma. Some say mantra, purify your negative karma. Some say emptiness, purify your negative karma. If you can do any of those correctly, it will work. If done correctly. (Laughter)
Giving torma to god and demons.
Not Christian god, these are Buddhism gods. (Laughter) We have 6 realms of samsaric beings. The gods whose lives are better, but will lose their lives. Lower deities- local deities- lives on trees, stones, homes, – have emotions like us. When we do things they like, they get happy, but when we do things they don’t like, they get angry and try to harm us.
Always in tantra practice, we give torma to take them away. They don’t like dharma activities. So we exterminate with compassion. Is same as “all mother sentient beings, especially those enemies who hate me, obstructers who harm me, and those who create obstacles on the path, may they experience happiness and be free from suffering and swiftly I will establish them in unsurpassed complete precious Buddhahood.” [This is the first opening prayer in the prayer books of Drikung Kagyu dharma centers.] Meditate on compassion to them. We are giving them food and drink to make them satisfied and go away. It is mainly peacemaking. Their minds are filled with harm and anger. We are trying to do nice things to make them appeased. Sometimes we think “wrathful is good, so we can destroy them.” Until you become really good, your wrathful practice won’t work. We have a monk in my town that died, was destroyed, and took into other bodies. He laughed “you aren’t strong enough.” A weak one should never try to fight with strong one. Powerful demons have strong power, and our power is nothing. So the Best way to diminish them is the opposite- compassion. Otherwise, it is like a man trying to stop a car running toward him with his hands. No matter how bad a person is, if you repay them kindly, one day, they will become a friend. if you always try to be bad, it will never end. This is a peacemaker. When two countries are almost at war, someone is a peacemaker. This torma is a peacemaker between us and demon.
Giving Torma to dakinis.
These are enlightened beings. Dakini means “queen of the space” – like Tara, Achi, Vajrayogini – and protectors, who are bodhisattvas who protect beings in that form. We offer to them for our own accumulation of merit. Mahakalas are wisdom beings manifesting as dharma protectors. We offer those tormas.
Join Whatever You Meet With Meditation
Work with whatever comes up.
When illness, demons, interruptions, or disturbing emotions come unexpectedly, or if you see someone else troubled by some unpleasant situation, think, “I shall just practice taking and sending.” In all your virtuous thoughts and actions think:
May all sentient beings come to. engage naturally in much greater dharma activity than this.
Do the same when you are happy and comfortable. If you have some evil thought or are forced to engage in some form of evil activity, think:
May every evil thought and action of every sentient being be gathered in this one.
In summary, maintain the motivation to help others whatever you are doing: eating, sleeping, walking, or sitting. As soon as you encounter a situation, good or bad, work at this practice of mind training.
When you have a comfortable peaceful life, think “may all sentient beings have a joy happier than mine.
“When you have evil though. Khenchen Rinpoche always talks about lam don – “may my evil thought take the evil thoughts of all sentient beings so no one else has them.” This is different than having everything. What you have, wish for benefit of everyone. For beginner mind-training practitioners, this is easier to do. Also leads to less stress, less pain emotionally. If you have a headache, “may this headache take the headaches of all other sentient beings, so they don’t anymore.” You have the headache already, so it helps reduce pain and spiritually, it creates merit and virtuous thoughts.
Utilization of the practice in one’s whole life [and Death]. What to do during one’s life-
Train in the 5 forces
Sometimes said Train in the 5 powers
1. Force of impetus
Sometimes power of goodwill. Basically developing motivation, a positive mental attitude.
From this moment until enlightenment, at least from now until I die, and especially for the next year and the next month, and definitely from today until tomorrow, the two aspects of bodhicitta will never be absent from my mind.
Kind of like developing strong attitude, making more of a commitment. Saying “From now until this time, I am going to do this this this.” Don’t going to lose mind from negative way. Mental attitude or motivation.
2. power of familiarization
Whatever occupation or activity you are engaged in-virtuous, nonvirtuous, or indeterminate-maintain mindfulness…
Try to overcome the negative emotion. Maintain mindfulness. What is mindfulness? Master- usually stay in mountain, sometimes go to towns to get supplies, in Tibet, we had big tea bags. Master thought, “I need some tea.” So he put his hand in the tea, and then realized it was negative action.” So he left hand in bag and shouted “everyone comes home! Thief!” (Laughter)
Many labels of mindfulness. First, need to know what is right and wrong. Even most of the time, we know it’s wrong but never follow it. (Laughter) When we are doing things, recognizing, remembering, and then stopping. That is called the mindfulness, the Power of familiarization. From this, we become habit of virtue and cutting negative habits. Otherwise, most of the time, we have more negatives than positives. We can make mistakes, but recognizing them is most important. If not recognized, we will repeat. Whatever happens, recognize. We can cut all negatives. There is a story of one Kadampa master who was practicing in a cave. negative thoughts- black mark, positive- white mark. Starting, all black marks. Slowly, become more white.
First, I think we can’t realize until we have done something and then we regret on that. Slowly, slowly, we will realize when we are doing, we keep going, one day, we can realize we will see before we do it. Then one day we won’t do it. That is called meditation. (Laughter)
3. power of virtuous seeds
Never be content with your efforts to arouse bodhichitta.
Physically, verbally, mentally all work together. Sometimes our physically can look like virtue, but mentally is non-virtue.
4. power of repudiation – or remorse
Whenever ego-cherishing thoughts come up, abandon them completely by thinking:
“Previously, for time without beginning, you have made me wander in samsara and experience different kinds of suffering. In addition, all the suffering and evil that occur in this life are brought on by you. There is no happiness in your company, so I shall now do everything I can to subdue and destroy you.”
Say this to self-cherishing. Same things Shantideva said look on Buddha and look on sentient beings. Sentient beings focus only on self- benefits, so they are in samsara. Buddha always thinks of others, and that’s how he became Buddha.
5) power of aspiration
At the end of any virtuous activity, dedicate all virtue.
May I, on my own, guide all sentient beings to buddhahood. In particular, from now until I attain enlightenment, may I never forget the two aspects of precious bodhicitta, even when I am dreaming. May the two aspects of bodhicitta grow stronger and stronger. Whatever adverse conditions I encounter, may I take them as aids to bodhicitta.
This is an aspiration prayer. One thing about aspiration prayers: our accumulation of merit isn’t strong enough to do what we desire, to benefit beings. So, we need to dedicate virtue and build up virtue. Because of merit and aspiration prayers, Chenrizig and the Lord of Wisdom, Manjushuri, they developed these actions. Read their sutras about how they made commitments. Particularly what aspiration prayers they did on the bodhisattva path. Vajrasattva said “until when people call my name, sentient beings are purified, I don’t want to become a Buddha.” Medicine Buddha said the same thing. Aspiration prayers seem sometimes not practically beneficial, but long-term they are very important.
When enlightened beings have spontaneous enlightened activities, it is because of: 1) Karma of sentient beings, 2) their aspiration prayer, 3) their kindness. When they attain Buddhahood, there is no conceptual “I will manifest here.” So, we say manifesting spontaneously without conceptual thoughts. We don’t have qualities to help others now, but do this continually, one day will. If we wait until one day, we won’t be able to benefit sentient beings.
We’ll cover what to do at death tomorrow. So don’t die tonight. (Laughter)