Presented by Jhampa Shaneman
These lectures were transcribed by T vd Broek and are offered for your benefit free of charge. Heartfelt gratitude is offered for all the hours of work spent on this Dharma activity. This has been slightly edited.
In beginning to realize anything in yourself, for example, in the mundane world, let's say for doing an ordinary job whether it's planting a garden or building a house, or whatever you are doing with yourself. You initially say this is what I am going to do. And then you go about accomplishing whatever you have set yourself to do. To bring about benefits for what we are involved with there, it's a lot more immaterial. Because, it's our mind. And in a sense it's our spirit, our spirituality that we are working with. So it is much more important that we be aware of where we are coming from otherwise the benefits won't be there. And maybe after a year or two, if you persisted and practiced and such, then you sort of say, "Gee, nothings has happened. What is going on here. Maybe there is nice talks, maybe interesting, and seems quite moving, but I'm not reaping any benefits!" And the reason that would have happened is that you havn't been working with yourselves on a level where you really realize where you are coming from and have some direction you would like to go in.
I mean, for doing a garden you have a very direct thing to look at. You go out and say, "Gee, I havn't been working for three days and look at all the weeds!" And so you immediately know what you have been doing and what you have not been doing. With your own mind, your own sort of spirit, it's a lot more immaterial. In that way, it is much more important to have clarity of being. Clarity of expression in regards to your intentions. Because then there is something which is going to be acquired by that, accomplished in that.
If you do wish to experience results, after a year or two years, whatever, of being involved in meditative practices and such, if you really want to feel a little more accomplished, then do have clarity of motivation, clarity of your direction in life. Because the more clear that is the more you will accomplish so to speak. The more you will grow. And although maybe you won't be able to see it because you are it, maybe your friends can all say, "Yes, you've changed!!!"
They can see it in your character and the way you express yourself and things. So do, for example, you have come here, maybe if all of you asked yourself the question "Why did I come here?" "Do I like the people and do I enjoy myself?" Maybe it's something to do on a Tuesday night! I don't know! Anyway, find your motive of why you came. And maybe in that way appreciate that "I am interested in this, I have an aspiration of some sort of integration!"
If you would really like to experience an ongoing growth in yourself, it's important to get in touch with why you are doing things. Coming to this for example, is a very clear thing. It is a meditation group and such, and that is very clear in your aspiration, your intention. But if you can bring that into your home environment too. Like in the evening or in the morning if you do spend some time meditating, to then have some clarity, saying, .... to find internal to yourself why you are doing this, and then it grows more! Your life becomes a lot more directed! More Clear! And as that happens you maybe find yourself more satisfied with yourself, happier, more integrated. Which are the results of a good practice.
Also of course, do identify that the practice is you! Very often we get caught up in names. Like maybe you are or are not Buddhists. Or maybe you are aspirants! I don't know how you want to classify yourselves. And so when you sit down to meditate, lets say there is a very gross or exaggerated example such as ... Well, I'm going to be a good Buddhist, and I'm going to meditate. And in this I am going to aspire to the evolution of the stages of being a Buddhist or however you conceive it!.... There is nothing wrong with that. But the more real thing is you. And where you are at. And what you feel about yourself!
The meaning of being buddhist is being internalized, an inner person working within yourself. So when you do work with yourself, and when you do start to become more at grips with yourself, then you are really a Buddhist by the true definition of the word and you are not external Buddhist. The point is, when you sit to meditate, it is for you that you sit and meditate. It is not for anything else. When you gain realizations, and when things happen, it's your experience, it's your psyche going through processes. And that's wonderful. That's the most stimulating thing that is available because it is you! And it makes it much more wonderful than other things because it is your transformation with a dedicative process of doing it over five, ten twenty years, however long you have practiced. Then it is all your growth and such. It's not like paying off a twenty year mortgage and the country goes bankrupt and everything is lost. It's all gone, they took it away from you, whatever happens! You could loose everything in twenty four hours! That cannot happen in your spirituality, whatever you internally develop. To be aware that that internal development comes from clarity of intention, and from that intention comes the direction you are moving in and that direction comes from being in touch with yourself. And when you sit down to meditate, saying "Hey, the better I meditate the more I am in touch with myself, realize my emotions, my wishes, my aspirations and such, put them into a framework which says, is this compatible with where I would like to be or where I want to go, or is it not? Then you have something which is really personalized and really beneficial to yourselves. That is so much more important that anything else you could possibly be involved with because it is you and your psyche.
And that comes around to to the topic that I wanted to talk about tonight. Enthusiasm. I didn't plan it that way, it just happened. So being enthusiastic about your practice is the fourth perfection. As with any of the other perfections, the definition of enthusiasms important. Like the definition of generosity is to be without a sense of miserliness. It doesn't mean giving away everything, but just that in your heart you don't have a sense of miserliness. Morality, the second perfection, doesn't mean you are a prude or something, it just means that you have no intention to harm others, that you try to abstain from harmful intentions regarding others. Patience, by definition, is being able to bear suffering whether it is inflicted from others, internal sufferings we go through, being able to bear those and to go beyond them.
And the definition of enthusiasm is experiencing joy when you are doing something. The broader term for it is joyful enthusiasm, but the definition exactly says entering into an activity with a sense of joy. And so if you start to develop the perfection of enthusiasm, then when you do things you feel really good about it. Cultivating that, and feeling enthusiastic, inspired, a whole slew of English words which work quite well with that. And that means you are acquiring a quality of having lot's of energy, happy....if we are lucky we sort of touch base with it every once in awhile.
Enthusiasm in this sense, isn't enthusiasm as in making a lot of money. There is a difference. We are into what we call a spiritual perfection of enthusiasm versus the material perfection of enthusiasm. So if you are really into some incredible scam where you are going to make lots of money, of course you are going to feel wonderfully enthusiastic. But that doesn't mean that you are into spiritually perfecting your enthusiasm. You have to differentiate between the two. The more specific definition would be having joy in going in a positive direction, that which is positive, creating good things around you which brings benefit to yourself and others. In a good tangent, in a positive way. In being aware of your own enthusiasm, do try to realize that you feel inspired when I get involved in this. Like helping someone. I feel good about it and such. And you can maybe get in touch with that spiritual enthusiasm. Joy. And as it develops, it pervades or permeates into other aspects of your life. And then you have a lot more joy in your life.
The perfection of enthusiasm for spirituality principally deals with the other perfections. For example, feeling quite happy about being generous and to be able to really enjoy being a generous person. However you practice generosity! Whether it's with your material goods, your time, your love, compassion, all those are forms of generosity. Well, feeling good about that. And that is the perfection of enthusiasm regarding generosity.
Or morality. Feeling happy if you abstain from something. There is that funny thing with morality. There is the negative side of it which says don't do that, that is bad! Or there is the other side of which says, I don't do that because I don't see the good, what it will do for me that is good! It's a different way of looking at it. One way is saying it is a no no. The other way is just saying, I have gone beyond that. I don't need to do those things any more. And it is a different tangent. I am sure that you are aware of it. Lets say a basic precept such as don't drink alcohol. Like alcoholic beverages are, they say, the causes of many mistakes. If you get into alcohol, from there can come lots of problems. So one of the five precepts that you can take is to abstain from all intoxicants. You could look at it in a negative way such as I can't drink! Or you could look at it in the other way as I don't like to drink any more! Whole different energy! Enthusiasm would be the positive side of it! Enthusiasm has to be being joyful in what you are involved with. And when you have that, it adds a lot of fibre or energy to your spirituality.
Patience. Difficult to be joyfully patient. But if you have a good realization about what you are doing with yourself, you can be more happy about the fact that you can bear a problem. Like when you have a difficult situation come your way, and though you sort of suffer under it, you sort of restrain yourself from lashing out at the other person, like seeking revenge.
You can actually feel good about being patient. You have some ugly situations to bear but you can feel good about it. I will try to release the negativity. Like the Dalai Lama always says, it doesn't help to lash back. Let's say I turn and lash out. All we do is throw dirt at each other until one of us quits or we hate each other so much we don't talk to each other again. There is the results of lashing back on a revenge trip.
Like I say, if you can be, be enthusiastic with your patience, if you can't, at least bear it. With a grin!
The next is enthusiasm about enthusiasm! Which is if you can you try to just be happy about your being happy. The one after that would be enthusiasm about your meditation, and that means, that you like to meditate. That you enjoy it. They say you should have, like on a hot day when an elephant comes to a lake, it dives into the lake! In that way you should enter into your meditation with joy and ecstasy! Like it's a wonderful thing! Like swans when they come to water! Same way, when you come to your meditation, you should have joy in that, really look forward to it. And part of that though, is also knowing how long to meditate so that you don't burn yourself out. If you say I must meditate every day for one hour, you might burn out. Because at the end of thirty or forty minutes, you are not happy, you are feeling uncomfortable, it's not good! So you have actually gone way beyond your limit. But sitting fifteen twenty minutes maybe is alright. So you say I am going to sit there for twenty minutes. At the end of then, you still feel good about yourself. Feel good about your meditation. So get up then. Because you have good energy. The next time you come to meditate, you will feel good about it again.
So regarding meditation, try to be happy however often you meditate.
And enthusiasm in wisdom is having a joyful interest in being able to realize the true nature of reality.
For this evening I would like to leave it with the definition. Although there are lots of teachings regarding enthusiasm, most of them would be lecturing you. And I don't want to lecture anyone. But I could make you all feel guilty. A particular text I relied on for my own teaching and training talks about how a farmer gets up at five in the morning to go out and dig his fields. For your enlightenment, and for your liberation, can't you get up to meditate! Things like that.
For the cultivation of enthusiasm, cultivating or starting to realize or actualize it in your practice, the main way you do that is to just starting to be aware of your motive, and do you enjoy it. And sort of try to set it up that you do feel good about what you are going to do. Like if you are going to meditate, if you find yourself going out to meditate because you are doing it because you think you should, then maybe you don't meditate. Just sort of say, hey I am not going to do it for that reason. And when you then think I like to meditate because it makes me feel more together, then you go meditate. Like I say, it really goes back to where you are coming from. Get in touch with yourself. So cultivating enthusiasm is realizing your motivation. And when you can say I have a good motivation, right now and I feel good about myself, then you go for it because you are stimulating yourself in a positive direction and you are really establishing good energy for yourself. A happiness for yourself.
So cultivation mainly falls on the line of why you are doing something and do you enjoy doing that thing. If you do, become more conscious of it! And have an expression of joy in yourself in that. Have an awareness of the joy which you experience in that. That is good. It starts to pervade into all our various activities. In cultivating it, try not to create causes for it's degeneration. And if you miss meditation a few times, then you sort of say, Oh I don't want to meditate any more. You create a lot of negative energy which really puts a lot more to walk to go over. You degenerate in the positive energy you managed to established in yourself.
Main point anyway, get in touch with your motivation. When you do things try to feel good about them. Try to find a real reason why you are doing them. It can be difficult. A lot of us like to be led by the nose. That is the easy way. It's alright. But it's not as powerful as if you find your own reason why you things. And you get in touch with those. So you become a powerful person and you become clear in your mind. And you don't get led astray.
Copyright 1994 Daka's Buddhist Consulting
All Rights Reserved