Bodhichitta: From “Enlightened Courage” Commentary by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

Dilgo Khyentse

The following is respectfully quoted from “Enlightened Courage” a commentary by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche:

Bodhichitta is the unfailing method for attaining enlightenment. It has two aspects, relative and absolute. Relative bodhichitta is practiced using ordinary mental processes and is comparatively easy to develop. Nevertheless, the benefits that flow from it are immeasurable, for a mind in which the precious Bodhichitta has been born will never again fall into the lower realms of samsara. Finally, all the qualities of the Mahayana path, as teeming and vast as the ocean, are distilled and essentialized in Bodhichitta, the mind of enlightenment.

We must prepare ourselves for this practice by following the instructions in the sadhana of Chenrezig, “Take refuge in the Three Jewels and meditate on Bodhichitta. Consider that all your virtuous acts of body, speech, and mind are for the whole multitude of beings, numerous as the sky is vast.”

It is said in the teachings that “since beings are countless, the benefit of wishing them well is unlimited.” And how many beings there are! Just imagine, in one small garden there might be millions and millions of them! If we wish to establish them all in the enlightened state of Buddhahood, it is said that the benefit of such an aspiration is as vast as the number of begins is great. Therefore we should not restrict our Bodhichitta to a limited number of beings. Wherever there is space, beings exist, and all of them live in suffering. Why make distinctions between them, welcoming some as loving friends and excluding others as hostile enemies?

Throughout the stream of our lives, from time without beginning until the present, we have all been wandering in samsara, accumulating evil. When we die, where else is there for us to go but to the lower realms? But if the wish and thought occur to us that we must bring all beings to enlightened state of Buddhahood, we have generated what is known as Bodhichitta in intention. We should then pray to the teacher and the yidam deities that the practice of the precious Bodhichitta might take root in our hearts. We should recite the seven-branch prayer from the Prayer of Perfect Action, and, sitting upright, count our breaths twenty-one times without getting mixed up or missing any, and without being distracted by anything. If we are able to count our breaths concentratedly for a whole mall, discursive thoughts will diminish and the practice of relative Bodhichitta will be much easier. This is how to become a suitable vessel for meditation.

ABSOLUTE BODHICHITTA

Consider all phenomena as a dream.

If we have enemies, we tend to think of them as permanently hostile. Perhaps we have the feeling that they have been the enemies of our ancestors in the past, that they are against us now, and that they will hate our children in the future. Maybe this is what we think, but the reality is actually quite different. In fact, we do not know where or what we were in our previous existences, and so there is no certainty that the aggressive people we now have to contend with were not our parents in former lives! When we die, we have no idea where we will be reborn, and so there is no knowing that these enemies of ours might not become our mothers or fathers. At present, we might have every confidence in our parents, who are so dear to us, but when they go from this life , who is to say they will not be reborn among our enemies? Because our past and future lives are unknown to us, we have the impression that the enemies we have now are fixed in their hostility, or that our present friends will always be friendly. This only goes to show that we have never given any real thought to this question.

If we consider carefully, we might picture a situation where many people are at work on some elaborate project. At one moment, they are all friends together, feeling close, trusting and doing each other good turns. But then something happens and they become enemies, perhaps hurting or killing one  other. Such things do happen, and changes like this can occur several times in the course of a single lifetime–for no other reason than that all composite things or situations are impermanent.

This precious human body, supreme instrument though it is for the attainment of enlightenment, is itself a transient phenomenon. No one knows when, or how, death will come. Bubbles form on the surface of the water, but the next instant they are gone; they do not stay. It is just the same with this precious human body we have managed to find. We take all the time in the world before engaging in practice, but who knows when this life of ours will simply cease to be? And once our precious human body is lost, our midstream, continuing its existence, will take birth perhaps among the animals, or in one of the hells or god realms where spiritual development is impossible. Even if life in a heavenly state, where all is ease and comfort, is a situation unsuitable for practice, on account of the constant dissipation and distraction that are a feature of the god’s existence.

At present, the outer universe–earth, stones, mountains, rocks, and cliffs–seem to be the perception of our senses to be permanent and stable, like the house build of reinforced concrete that we think will last for generations. In fact, there is nothing solid to it at all; it is nothing but a city of dreams.

In the past, when the Buddha was alive surrounded by multitudes of Arhats and when the teachings prospered, what buildings must their benefactors have built for them! It was all impermanent; there is nothing left to see now but an empty plain. In the same way, at the universities of Vikramashila and Nalanda, thousands of pandits spent there time instructing enormous monastic assemblies. All impermanent! Now, not even a single monk or volume of Buddha’s teachings are to be found there.

Take another example from the more recent past. Before the arrival of the Chinese Communists, how many monasteries were there in what use to be called Tibet, the Land of Snow? How many temples and monasteries were there, like those in Lhasa, at Samye and Trandruk? How many precious objects were there, representatives of the Buddha’s Body, Speech, and Mind? Now not even a statue remains. All that is left of Samye is something hardly bigger than a stupa. Everything was either looted, broken, or scattered, and all the great images were destroyed. These things have happened, and this demonstrates impermanence.

Think of all the lamas who came and lived in India, such as Gyalwa Karmapa, Lama Kalu Rinpoche, and Dudjom Rinpoche; think of all the teachings they gave and how they contributed to the preservation of the Buddha’s doctrine. All of them have passed away. We can no longer see them, and they remain only as objects of prayer and devotion. All this is because of impermanence. In the same way, we should try to think of our fathers, mothers, children and friends. When the Tibetans escaped to India, the physical conditions were too much for many of them and they died. Among my acquaintances alone, there were three or four deaths every day. That is impermanence. There is not one thing in existence that is stable and lasts.

If we have an understanding of impermanence, we will be able to practice the sacred teachings. But if we continue to think that everything will remain as it is, then we will be just like rich people still discussing their business projects on their deathbeds! Such people never talk about the next life, do they? It goes to show that an appreciation of the certainty of death has never touched their hearts. That is their mistake, their delusion.

Abandoning Love: The Fourth Root Downfall

The following is respectfully quoted from “Perfect Conduct” with commentary by Dudjom Rinpoche:

4.b.3(b.4) Abandoning love:

The fourth is wishing that any sentient being should be separated from happiness and losing heartfelt love for them.

To wish any sentient being should be separated from happiness and to stop feeling heartfelt love for them is the fourth root downfall. The object can be one sentient being or many. To wish for them to be separated from happiness and to meet with suffering or misfortune, thus forsaking them and giving up any love for them at all, constitutes this downfall.

Experiencing Practice

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The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo offered during a “Good Heart Retreat”

When I start to talk about all of this, it seems like I’m saying, “Okay, go do this, and go do that.” Please don’t hear it that way. I wish that there was some way you could not hear so much with your ears, so that they go in two different channels and you have all those voices in your head arguing with you. But instead hear it with your heart and really kind of vibes with the spirit of the message that I’m putting out here. Again I’m encouraging you not to keep your practice outside as this isolated separate little phenomena that you do in your prayer room. But remember I’m asking you to integrate your faith into your life. To make it real. If we are talking about impartiality, equanimity, and purifying the poisons, then we are talking about abolishing hatred, greed, ignorance, jealousy, and pridefulness. We are talking about making the world a better place—to see as the Buddha has taught us. Really see it. Really get it. In our nature, we are the same. This is what the Buddha has said. In our nature we are the same. To really get that. You can’t do that by simply running around doing all these things that I’m telling you to do. Make a foundation, collect some soup, you know, buy a couple of Christmas presents. That’s not how it’s going to happen.

I have another revolutionary idea. Supposing, once again, you were to really get into your path in such a way as to get into the mysticism of your path. Not simply by visualizing properly, not simply by memorizing the entire Celestial Palace Mandala, so that you have every little bit of it just right. I don’t mean that. If you can do that, it’s great. But in the meantime while you’re doing that, let’s also do something else. Let’s have a mystical experience, shall we? I mean how hard can it be? We’re Buddhists. We’re supposed to be mystical. So rather than talking about the end of ethnic prejudice, the end of hatred, the end of pride, the end of greediness, instead of talking about it, what if we really practiced it and felt it in our practice. Supposing we could kick off this grand idea of being a spiritual community in the world by actually feeling it, by actually doing it in our practice and in our prayers. Supposing we together as a Sangha were to gather periodically and do a meditation. Oh, wow! It’s not written down in the Buddhist books! That’s okay. It’s not a sin to do this. I mean, you know, it’s a funny thing. We have this idea that since we’ve become Buddhist and our prayers are written down in here, we don’t get to say any others. You only get to say those, in Tibetan. Like the Buddhas are up there and they don’t understand anything but Tibetan. If you talk to them, they aren’t really listening, they only talk to the Asians. That’s ridiculous, isn’t it? That’s impossible.

So supposing that we, as Buddhist practitioners had meditations. These are meditations that I like to do by myself. What if we did these as a group together? What if we sat in meditation, simply watching the breath as we do in Vipassana meditation or in shiney meditation, simply gentle meditation with no particular visualization. In our meditation we would relax the mind and abide naturally in the natural state, simply watching the breath as the Buddha has taught. But from that point, what if in this meditation, abiding gently in the nature, we were to expand our view to include first, everyone that we were praying with, to celebrate in meditation, in practice, and in truth, one nature, to meditate gently and abide naturally together. If it’s possible for one, it’s got to be possible for all of us. Supposing after that, we were to reach out, gently, and in that natural state, abiding spontaneously, embrace or include the community around us. Supposing we could recognize that in essence, our breath is the same. Literally, it is. That our breath is the same. Supposing we could understand that in our nature, there’s no place where I end and you begin. Supposing we could do away with those ideas of separation, and in our meditation, expand and embrace till we are meditating as one people. Supposing we could go a little further and meditate as one nation. And what if we could go a little further still and meditate as one world.

Supposing we got so good at this, that in our meditation, we would begin to awaken to the equality and the sameness of all that lives, just like the Buddha said. Supposing in our meditation, we could feel our oneness, our sameness with everybody in Africa, everybody in India, everybody in China, everybody in Europe, everybody everywhere. Supposing we went beyond that to include, as inseparable from that nature, beings who are other species, like the animal kingdom. Supposing we got so good at this that we knew that we were one and could begin to live it. How hard can it be? Nobody’s asking you to work out or anything. All you got to do is sit there and do that. How hard can it be?

And then supposing beyond that we could think about those great pictures they’re sending back from the Hubble telescope. Hmm? We could think about this galaxy and what it looks like. We could think about all the galaxies, those beautiful pictures of all those galaxies in deep space. Have you seen any of those? Oh, breath taking! What if all of that were inseparable from you? What if all of that were inside of you?

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Commitment: From “The Way of The Bodhisattva” by Shantideva

The following is respectfully quoted from “The Way of the Bodhisattva” by Shantideva as translated by the Padmakara Translation Group and published by Shambhala:

Commitment

1.
With joy I celebrate
The virtue that relieves all beings
From the sorrows of the states of loss,
And places those who languish in the realms of bliss.

2.
And I rejoice in virtue that creates the cause
Of gaining the enlightened state,
And celebrate the freedom won
By living beings from the round of pain.

3.
And in the buddhahood of the protectors I delight
And in the stages of the buddha’s offspring.

4.
The intention, ocean of great good,
That seeks to place all beings in the state of bliss,
And every action for the benefit of all:
Such is my delight and all my joy.

5.
And so I join my hands and pray
The buddhas who reside in every quarter:
Kindle now the Dharma’s light
For those who grope, bewildered in the dark of suffering!

6.
I join my hands, beseeching the enlightened ones
Who wish to pass beyond the bonds of sorrow:
Do not leave us in our ignorance;
Remain among us for unnumbered ages!

7.
And through these actions now performed,
By all the virtue I have just amassed,
May all the pain of every living being
Be wholly scattered and destroyed!

8.
For all those ailing in the world,
Until their every sickness has been healed,
May I myself become for them
The doctor, nurse, the medicine itself.

9.
Raining down a flood of food and drink,
May I dispel the ills of thirst and famine.
And in the ages marked by scarcity and want,
May I myself appear as drink and sustenance.

10.
For sentient beings, poor and destitute,
May I become a treasure ever plentiful,
And lie before them closely in their reach,
A varied source of all that they might need.

11.
My body, thus, and all my good besides,
And all my merits gained and to be gained,
I give them all away withholding nothing
To bring about the benefit of beings.

12.
Nirvāna is attained by giving all,
Nirvāna the objective of my striving.
Everything therefore must be abandoned,
And it is best to give it all to others.

13.
This body I have given up
To serve the pleasure of all living beings.
Let them kill and beat and slander it,
And do to it whatever they desire.

14.
And though they treat it like a toy,
Or make of it the butt of every mockery,
My body has been given up to them–
There’s no use, now, to make so much of it.

15.
And so let beings do to me
Whatever does not bring them injury.
Whenever they catch sight of me,
Let his not fail to bring them benefit.

16.
If those who see me entertain
A thought of anger or devotion,
May these states supply the cause
Whereby their good and wishes are fulfilled.

17.
All those who slight me to my face,
Or do me any other evil,
Even if they blame or slander me,
May they attain the fortune of enlightenment!

18.
May I be a guard for those who are protector less,
A guide for those who journey on the road.
For those who wish to go across water,
May I be a boat, a raft, a bridge.

19.
May I be an isle for those who yearn for landfall,
And a lamp for those who long for light;
For those who need a resting place, a bed;
For all who need a servant, may I be their slave.

20.
May I be the wishing jewel, the vase of plenty,
A word of power and the supreme healing;
May I be the tree of miracles,
And for every being the abundant cow.

21.
Like the earth and the pervading elements,
Enduring as the sky itself endures,
For boundless multitudes of living beings,
May I be their ground and sustenance.

22.
Thus for everything that lives,
As far as are the limits of the sky,
May I provide their livelihood and nourishment
Until they pass beyond the bonds of suffering.

23.
Just as all the buddhas of the past
Embraced the awakened attitude of mind,
And in the precepts of the bodhisattvas
Step by step abode and trained,

24.
Just so, and for the benefit of beings,
I will also have this attitude of mind,
And in those precepts, step by step,
I will abide and train myself.

25.
That this the most pure and spotless state of mind
Might be embraced and constantly increase,
The prudent who have cultivated it
Should praise it highly in such words as these:

26.
“Today my life has given fruit.
This human state has now been well assumed.
Today I take my birth in Buddha’s line,
And have become the buddhas’ child and heir.

27.
“In every way, then, I will undertake
Activities befitting such a rank.
And I will do no act to mar
Or compromise this high and faultless lineage.

28.
“For I am like a blind man who has found
A precious gem within a mound of filth.
Exactly so, as if by some strange chance,
The enlightened mind has come to birth in me.

29.
“This is the draft of immortality,
That slays the Lord of Death, the slaughterer of beings,
The rich unfailing treasure-mine
To heal the poverty of wanderers.

30.
“It is the sovereign remedy,
That perfectly allays all maladies.
It is the wishing tree bestowing rest
On those who wander wearily the pathways of existence.

31.
“It is the universal vehicle that saves
All wandering beings from the states of loss–
The rising moon of the enlightened mind
That soothes the sorrows born of the afflictions.

32.
“It is a mighty sun that utterly dispels
The gloom and ignorance of wandering beings,
The creamy butter, rich and full,
All churned from milk of holy Teaching.

33.
“Living beings! Wayfarers upon life’s paths,
Who wish to taste the riches of contentment,
Here before you is the supreme bliss–
Here, O ceaseless wanderers, is your fulfillment!

34.
“And so, within the sight of all protectors,
I summon every being, calling them to buddhahood–
And till that state is reached, to every earthly joy!
May gods and demigods, and all the rest, rejoice!”

 

The Middle Way: From a Commentary on the Bodhisattva Vow by HH Penor Rinpoche

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The following is adapted from an oral commentary given by His Holiness in conjunction with a ceremony wherein he bestowed the bodhisattva vow upon a gathering of disciples at Namdroling in Bozeman, Montana, November 1999:

This leads to the third stage concerning the aspect of adjusting one’s intention [which is the first of four aspects of the preliminaries to the ritual for receiving the vow]: transcending the two extremes of samsara and enlightenment by vowing to maintain the middle way. The practice of the enlightened mind, bodhicitta, involves two levels, the aspirational and the practical. Maybe you’re thinking, “If we reject the suffering of the three realms of existence and avoid attraction to the quiescence of the hearers and solitary realizers, what is there for us to obtain?” What we are to obtain is the state of bodhisattvahood, which is dependent on bodhicitta cultivated for the sake of self and others. It is only bodhicitta that leads beings from the suffering of existence to the state of fully enlightened buddhahood. We must avoid the two extremes: the quiescence of ordinary nirvana and the endless cycle of samsara. It is only through cultivating bodhicitta that we can truly follow the middle way.

Through cultivating bodhicitta you will purify all nonvirtue accumulated in the past, present, and future, and compassion and all noble qualities, including the ability to meditate in samadhi, will blossom in your mind. As you dedicate yourself to the welfare of others, the [strength of your] vow will increase to the point where are you are truly able to help sentient beings as limitless as space. You will be able to bring limitless beings to enlightenment, until the ocean of existence is emptied. The Buddha taught that without the cultivation of the precious bodhicitta, there is no chance to achieve the state of fully enlightened buddhahood. Therefore, for the purpose of all other living beings, with great enthusiastic joy you should give rise to the precious bodhicitta and engage in the actual practice.

Making Offerings: His Holiness Penor Rinpoche

Offerings

The following is adapted from an oral commentary given by His Holiness in conjunction with a ceremony wherein he bestowed the bodhisattva vow upon a gathering of disciples at Namdroling in Bozeman, Montana, November 1999:

Next, go for refuge in the sublime supports, the buddha as the embodiment of the three mayas, the dharma as the representation of all scriptural transmissions and realization, and the sangha as those who have attained the irreversible path of the sublime ones. From this moment until enlightenment, in order to liberate all parent sentient beings from their suffering, develop compassion. Realize that [in order] to accomplish your goal, aside from reliance on the Three Jewels of refuge, there is no other support for refuge. I would be impossible for you to bring all beings to liberation without the buddha, dharma, and sangha. With irreversible faith and devotion, repeat the vows of refuge.

According to the Mahayana path, we take refuge in the teacher who shows us the path to liberation: that is buddha. We engage on the path of Mahayana practice by cultivating the precious bodhicitta until we realize buddhahood: that is the dharma. The sangha is the spiritual community that is on the same path as we are on, assisting in the accomplishment of our mutual goals.

Next is the method for accumulating merit. Visualize in space in front a magnificent throne supported by eight lions, where your teacher sits, indivisible with Lord Buddha Shakyamuni. The eight arhats and a vast assembly of buddhas and bodhisattvas surround him like masses of clouds that fill the ten directions. Imagine countless emanations of yourself filling the entire pure realm of your environment, which includes the entire universe. You can countless emanations of yourself and all parent sentient beings join together to fill [all of] space. With humility, reverence, and faith, you and they all bow down and pay homage to the objects of refuge in the space in front. [Here you] prostrate by touching the five places of your body to the ground. That is the branch of prostration, a powerful antidote for pride. Having pride means having an attitude of cherishing yourself by thinking you are so great and special. Performing prostrations purifies that egoistic attitude.

Now visualize that you and innumerable emanations of yourself present boundless offerings. Offer all of your wealth and endowments, including the root of all virtue in this lifetime, all your past lifetimes, and in future lifetimes. Offer objects that are of this world and those that are transcendent. Imagine them to be inconceivably vast clouds of outer, inner, and secret offerings that completely fill space. In addition, offer the essential nature of reality.

General offerings please the senses. Imagine those offerings to be vast and inconceivable. However, if you were to [attempt to] compare the outer offerings with a single particle of the realms of buddhas and the quality of offerings made in the minds of enlightened ones, [you would find that comparison] to be beyond the scope of your imagination. That is why it is so important while presenting offerings to try to connect with the ultimate nature of offering, which is mental and not just material. Material offerings you make are supports for your mental or imagined offerings, which should be as inconceivably vast and wondrous as you are capable of manifesting. The actual offerings you use as a support should also be the best substances you are able to offer. At least they must not be old, dirty, or leftover substances; they must be suitable supports for the basis of virtue. The pure material offerings you make will be the support for the continual manifestation of inexhaustible offerings that will remain until samsara is emptied.

There is a well-known story of an accomplished practitioner named Jowo Ben. One day Jowo Ben made a very beautiful, clean, and pure offering on his altar. As he sat and looked at his offering, he thought, “What is it that makes this offering I’ve made here today excellent?” Then he remembered his sponsor was coming to visit that day, and he realized he had made the beautiful offering in order to impress his sponsor. He jumped up, picked up a handful of dirt, and threw it on the altar, saying he should give up all attachment and fixation on worldly concerns. Other lamas, on hearing what Jowo Ben had done, proclaimed his offering of throwing dirt on his altar to have been the purest offerings, because Jowo Ben had finally cleared his mind of attachment and aversion.

When offerings are made, they are rendered pure and excellent by a mind free from attachment and aversion to the ordinary, material aspect of the offerings–and they must be made with a mind that is also free from avarice. Don’t think you can throw dirt on your altar and think that will benefit you. You must adjust your mind. If your mind is free from attachment or fixation and aversion, then whatever you do will be right. If your mind is not adjusted and your intentions are impure, then no matter how beautiful and magnificent the offering is, it will be insignificant. If you present all offerings, whether abundant or meager, with fervent devotion from the core of your heart, that will produce profoundly amazing results.

In order to be free from the suffering of existence, the mind must be free from dualistic fixation. In freedom from duality, everything is inherently pure. Just imagine all the wonderful offerings that are made that are free from duality; pure water possessing the eight qualities, garlands of flowers, incense, light, superior perfume, celestial food, musical instruments, fine garments, beautiful umbrellas, canopies, victory banners, the sun, the moon–the finest and best of everything is offered. Consider those as offerings arranged in a magnificent array equal in size to Mt. Meru. Furthermore, know that those offerings are pure and free from duality. For example, if you were to pick a flower and think, “Oh, this is such a beautiful flower; I want to offer it,” but then you also think, “My flower is more beautiful than the others,” and you offer it with that dualistic thought, then that offering would be defiled by your dualistic fixation. On the other hand, if you focus on the pure nature of the offerings and present them with pure devotion, you will make offerings that are pure or free from dualistic fixation. Recite the verses of the branch for offering, and make the most excellent, immeasurable offering you are capable of with the enlightened attitude [bodhicitta], faith, and pure devotion.

It is important to understand that presenting offerings is the antidote for [having] desire. Offerings are not made to the Three Jewels because they are considered to be poverty-stricken and in need of receiving from their disciples; offerings are made to accumulate merit. By making offerings with actual material substances, we accumulate ordinary conceptual merit; by using the mind to manifest immeasurable offerings, we accumulate nonconceptual wisdom merit.

Cultivating Compassion – A “How To”

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The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “The Foundation of Bodhicitta”

Now it sounds like I’m making a sales pitch. “You too can do this.”  Well in a sense, I am. But what I’m really trying to do is to open your eyes to the potential here. Please don’t let me express this in such a way as to indicate to you that it is easy. All you have to do is practice a little Dharma and bingo you have got it. The kind of offering that I’m talking about, the kind of bodhicitta, the kind of generosity that I’m talking about takes a life time and more of absolute and total commitment to practice,. of actually practicing sincerely for the benefit of sentient beings; but only under that  condition can you offer the ultimate gift—the gift of enlightenment. In cyclic existence, there is no end to suffering. The only end to suffering is one exits cyclic existence; and one only exits the cycle of death and rebirth upon achieving enlightenment. How can you help others to achieve enlightenment?  Well, you can’t until you yourself have achieved some enlightenment.

In the meantime, you can help build stupas; you can make tsa tsas; you can sponsor enlightened activity; you can support your temple. You can do all of those things. You can practice, and you can dedicate the virtue of your practice to the liberation and salvation of all sentient beings. That is a very significant gift. That is a very significant act of bodhicitta. But ultimately the true benefit comes when you yourself have achieved realization in order to benefit sentient beings; and that you are able to return in such a form that you can provide the path and provide the method. You can provide the impetus. You can provide the empowerment and the fertilization that is necessary in order to ripen each and every sentient being’s buddha seed so that it can bring forth the flower of enlightenment.

It is not a selfish goal. It is not an immediate end to the suffering of sentient beings so you might fall into the trap of thinking, ‘Well what is the kindest thing to do? Practice to beat the band or work in a soup kitchen.’ Now we are taught that working in a soup kitchen would be the most compassionate thing to do, but actually it is two different kinds of compassion, you see. Working in a soup kitchen would be temporary compassion, temporary bodhicitta. Working to achieve realization would be ultimate bodhicitta. Two different kinds. The Buddha teaches us don’t waste your time. Spend the main bulk of your time on the ultimate bodhicitta.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

 

Meditation on Impartiality: Patrul Rinpoche

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The following is respectfully quoted from “The Words of My Perfect Teacher” by Patrul Rinpoche

1. Meditation on impartiality

Impartiality (tang nyom in Tibetan) means giving up (tang) our hatred for enemies and infatuation with friends, and having an even-minded (nyom) attitude towards all beings, free of attachment to those close to us and aversion for those who are distant.

As things are now, we are very attached to those we think of as part of our own group–father and mother, relatives and so on–while we feel an intolerable aversion towards our enemies and those associated with them. This is a mistake, and comes from a lack of investigation.

In former lives, those whom we now consider our enemies have surely been close to us, ever lovingly at our side, looking after us with goodwill and giving us unimaginable help and support. Conversely, many of those whom we now call friends have certainly been against us and done us harm. As we saw in the chapter on impermanence, this is illustrated by the words of the sublime Kātyāyana:

He eats his father’s flesh, beats his mother off,
He dandles on his lap his own unfortunate enemy;
The wife is gnawing at her husband’s bones.
I laugh to see what happens in samsāra’s show!

Another example is the story of Princess Pema Sel, daughter of the Dharma King Trisong Detsen. When she died at the age of seventeen, her father went to ask Guru Rinpoche how such a thing could happen.

“I would have thought that my daughter must have been someone with pure past actions,” said the king. “She was born as the daughter of King Trisong Detsun. She met all of you translators and pandits, who are like real Buddhas. So how can it be that her life was nevertheless so short?”

“It was not at all because of any pure past deeds that the princess was born as your daughter,” the Master replied. “Once I, Padma, you, the great Dharma King, and the great Bodhisattva Abbot had been born as three low-caste boys. We were building the Great Stūpa of Jarung Khashor. At that time the princess had taken birth as an insect, which stung you on the neck. Brushing off with your hand, you accidentally killed it. Because of the debt you incurred in taking that life, the insect was reborn as your daughter.”

If even the children of Dharma King Trisong Detsun, who was Mañjuśrī in person, could be born to him in that way as a result of his past actions, what can one say about other beings?

At present we are closely linked with our parents and children. We feel great affection for them and have incredible aspirations for them. When they suffer, or anything undesirable happens to them, we are more upset than we would be if such things had happened to us personally. All this is simply the repayment of debts for the harm we have done each other in past lives.

Of all the people who are now our enemies, there is not one who has not been our father or mother in the course of all our previous lives. Even now, the fact that we consider them to be against us does not necessarily mean that they are actually doing us any harm. There are some we think of as opponents who, from their side, do not see us in that way at all. Others might feel that they are our enemies but are quite incapable of doing us any real harm. There are also people who at the moment seem to be harming us, but in the long term what they are doing to us might bring us recognition and appreciation in this life, or make us turn to the Dharma and thus bring us much benefit and happiness. yet others, if we can skillfully adapt to their characters and win them over with gentle words until we reach some agreement, might quite easily turn into friends.

On the other hand there are all those whom we normally consider closest to us–our children, for example. But there are sons and daughters who have cheated or even murdered their parents, and join forces with them to quarrel with their own family and plunder their wealth. Even we we get along well with those who are dear to us, their sorrows and problems actually affect us even more strongly than our own difficulties. In order to help our friends, our children and other relatives, we pile up great waves of negative actions which will sweep us into the hells in our next life. When we really want to practise the Dharma properly they hold us back. Unable to give up our obsession with parents, children, and family, we keep putting off Dharma practice until later, and so never find the time for it. In short, such people may harm us even more than our enemies.

What is more, there is no guarantee that those we consider adversaries today will not be our children in future lives, or that our purest friends will not be reborn as our enemies, and so on. It is only because we take these fleeing perceptions of “friend” and “enemy” as real that we accumulate negative actions through attachment and hatred. Why do we hold on to this millstone which will drag us down into the lower realms?

Make a firm decision, therefore, to see all infinite beings as your own parents and children. Then, like the great beings of the past whose lives we can read about, consider all friends and enemies as the same.

First, towards all those you do not like at all–those who arouse anger and hatred in you–train your mind by various means so that the anger and hatred you feel no longer arise. Think of them as you would of someone neutral, who does you neither good nor harm. Then reflect that the innumerable beings to whom you feel neutral have been your father or mother sometime during your past lives throughout time without beginning. Meditate on this theme, training yourself until you feel the same love for them you do for your present parents. Finally, meditate until you feel the same compassion towards all beings–whether you see them as friends, enemies or in between–as you do for your own parents.

Now, it is no substitute for boundless impartiality just to think of everybody, friends, enemies, as the same, without any particular feeling of compassion, hatred or whatever. This is mindless impartiality, and brings neither harm nor benefit. The image given for truly boundless impartiality is a banquet given by a great sage. When the great sages of old offered feasts they would invite everyone, high or low, powerful or weak, good or bad, exceptional or ordinary, without making any distinction whatsoever. Likewise, our attitude toward all beings throughout space should be a vast feeling of compassion, encompassing them all equally. Train your mind until you reach such a state of boundless impartiality.

2. Meditation on love

Through meditating on boundless impartiality as described, you come to regard all beings of the three worlds with the same great love. The love that you feel for all fo them should be like that of parents taking care of their young children. They ignore all their children’s ingratitude and all the difficulties involved, devoting their every thought, word and deed entirely to making their little ones happy, comfortable and cosy. Likewise, in this life and in all your future lives, devote everything you do, say or think to the well-being and happiness of all beings.

Al those beings are striving for happiness and comfort. They all want to be happy and comfortable; not one of them wants to be unhappy or to suffer. Yet they do not understand that the cause of happiness is positive actions, and instead give themselves over to the ten negative actions. Their deepest wishes and their actions are therefore at odds: in their attempts to find happiness, they only bring suffering upon themselves.

Over and over again, meditate on the thought of how wonderful it would be if each one of those beings could have all the happiness and comfort they wish. Meditate on it until you want others to be happy just as intensely as you want to be happy yourself.

The sūtras speak of “loving actions of body, loving actions of speech, loving actions of mind.” What this means is that everything you say with your mouth or do with your hands, instead of being harmful to others, should be straightforward and kind. As it says in The way of the Bodhisattva:

Whenever catching sight of others
Look on them with open, loving heart.

Even when you simply look at someone else, let that look be smiling and pleasant rather than an aggressive glare or some expression of anger. There are stories about this, like the one about the powerful ruler who glared at everyone with a very wrathful look. It is said that he was reborn as a preta living on left-overs under the stove of a house, and after that, because he had also looked at a holy being in that way, he was reborn in hell.

Whatever actions you do with your body, try to do them gently and pleasantly, endeavoring not to harm others but to help them. Your speech should not express such attitudes as contempt, criticism or jealousy. Make every single word you say pleasant and true. As for your mental attitude, when you help others do not wish for anything good in return. Do not be a hypocrite and try to make other people see you as a Bodhisattva because of your kind words and actions. Siply wish for others’ happiness from the bottom of your heat and only consider what would be most beneficial for them. Pray again and again with these words: “Throughout all my lives, may I never harm so much as a single hair on another being’s head, and may I always help each of them.”

It is particularly important to avoid making anyone under your authority suffer, by beating them, forcing them to work too hard and so on. This applies to your servants and also to your animals, right down to the humblest watchdog. Always, under all circumstances, be kind to them in thought, word and deed. To be reborn as a servant, or as a watchdog, for that matter, and to be despised and looked down upon by everyone, is the maturation of the effects of past actions. It is the reciprocal effect of having despised and looked down on others while in a position of power in a past life. If you now despite others because of your own power and wealth, you will repay that debt in some future time by being reborn as their servants. So be especially kind to those in a lower position than yourself.

Anything you can do physically, verbally or mentally to help your own parents, or those suffering from chronic ill health, will bring inconceivable benefits. Jowo Atīsa says:

To be kind to those who have come from afar, to those who have been ill for a long time, or to our parents in their old age, is equivalent to meditating on emptiness of which compassion is the very essence.

Our parents have shown us such immense love and kindness that to upset them in their old age would be an extremely negative act. The Buddha himself, to repay his mother’s kindness, went to the Heaven of the Thirty-three to teach her the Dharma. It is said that even if we were to serve our parents by carrying them around the whole world on our shoulders, it would still not repay their kindness. However, can can repay that kindness by introducing them to the Buddha’s teaching. So always serve your parents in thought, word and deed, and try to find ways to bring them to the Dharma.

 

Kindness is The Way

The following is from a series of tweets by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo:

Last evening I taught my class at Palyul Ling. Lots came and lots tuned in from around the world. I enjoyed it and tears of love were everywhere! I hope you tuned in, and if not it is still up on line on U-stream, or you can watch it here – check it out!

Video streaming by Ustream

 

I’d like to teach again. Feedback was that it was good to hear teachings on the Boddhicitta, and from a Western Tulku. From a woman.

Anyhow, this is the place and time to be! It is gorgeous here, weather is good. I’m resting today.

OM TARE TU TARE TU TURE YE SOHA

OM MANI PEDME HUNG

What joy! I’m finding out students have formed a connection with Palyul Buddhism from my online activities. They practice together, have study groups from my blog and tweets. I knew it was through twitter and other social media that we could all be together and I am thrilled to be a doorway for this. I’ve met students I’ve never seen before! What joy to open wide the doors of Palyul and connect as family. And want to support their efforts by writing instructions and teachings from Palyul and myself as well. A good way to make Dharma free! Once His Holiness Penor Rinpoche told me I’d have Palyul centers all around the world. I thought that seemed impossible, but maybe not. Maybe this is the way.

As my pain heals I will not be as challanged, and will be able to travel. And you may contact us about how that may happen. How exciting! I am 100% Palyul and will open doors for this noble family as well as I can. Kindness is the way. Come to KPC and I am well I will come to you. Wherever you are, whoever you are, I honor you and reach out with love, compassion and respect for all.

Kindness is the way!

OM AH MI DEWA HRI

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