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These lectures were transcribed by T Vd Broek. Heartfelt
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September 5,89 Nanaimo
Perfection of Wisdom.
We are drawing to a conclusion of the six perfections or what is termed the common practice, the series of practices which one would engage in as a spiritual aspirant. To give it within the context of practicality with a key note word, generosity is to be open-hearted, not to be miserly or have a miserly heart. Morality is the desire to not cause harm for others. Patience is the ability to bear difficult situations. Enthusiasm is joy, meditation is to be focused. And now we are on the final of the six perfections, the perfection of wisdom.
Wisdom means reality. What is happening around us. Like what is the reality of the world? For a Buddhist it is one of the most important aspects of the practice and although I try to present it in an open form, it's not like anyone has to consider becoming a buddhist, but to put emphasis to it, the question is, what on earth is the reality around us? Like, we are sitting in the room right now, what is the reality of the situation? What can we say is true or real, and what can we say is an illusion or not in tune with reality.
There are two ways of approaching it. First, there is the relative nature of reality and secondly there is the final nature. The absolute. The ultimate. Where there is nothing more to be said. Of those two, the only one they say you can talk about is the relative one. The other one is beyond speech. Anyway we will try to add a few words to it anyway just for the fun of it!
The relative world, in talking of reality, is first to observe it, to be aware, to question what is happening around me, what is apparent and what is the situation in which I am involved with and such. And not looking to emotional situations we are in which are very difficult to judge sometimes, because emotional ideas about things, having our feelings about things, very often are judgmental or biased and so on. We have a lot of personal investment in any of those. Rather than that, let us just look at reality. Sort of question what is out there that we can just see in the immediate realm of things.
In doing that, if you just sort of take anything, take Shirley for example. Shirley is sitting there. What is the reality of Shirley? Well we have it, all right there is a human being there and that human being is alive and such. What you have to ask then is how does Shirley come about? Is Shirley sort of all of a sudden poof, there? Or is there some process which gives Shirley at this particular moment of her existence to be there in front of us? We are talking reality. We are going to definitely say we are in the relative reality. And so we have a person, a human being and what is the reality of that human being? It is a living human being so it is breathing, it's generating heat and so on. These are the immediate things that we could say this is reality. Reality is that there is a person there, generating heat around their body, they are breathing, they are alive and such. But we could ask how does that person arrive to that point? And we could say it arrived to that point because they obviously had parents to get them to be here. It is sort of blatant, isn't it? But sometimes we don't take that into context. So Shirley isn't produced magically or something, she doesn't pop up out of the ground and start walking around at the age of twenty nine. Instead of that there is actually an evolving Shirley with a mother and father, a Shirley that grows up and such.
So we have Shirley as an entity, something which is produced by parents. We can say that gives the body existence. Then we can also say Shirley is alive and functioning so another aspect of Shirley is that she is part of this world. By that we are talking really basic reality which is she is capable of living in this world by relying on the air, warmth, water and such that the world supplies. The food the world supplies, the support, all of these things which nurture that person.
If you find that difficult to do with another human being, look out the window at the trees. Same thing. The tree comes from a seed, that's why the tree is there. It doesn't grow out of the ground for no reason. It grows because there is a seed there. Then again a tree just doesn't happen, if you threw a seed on a rock, it wouldn't grow. It has to be in soil. And the soil and the tree's roots have to be receptive, there has to be that communication between them. The communication is the moisture, the nutriments, and the minerals the soil can give to it. Another aspect is the tree needs the air around it, the chlorophyll, that aspect of the leaves... There needs to be sunlight, air, warmth so that the tree can grow properly. Maybe you are saying what is Jhampa talking about? We are talking about reality, we are talking about our existence in this world. We have to start looking blatantly at what is around us. Like I say, there is a tree outside the window. The tree is actually fully involved with what is going on around it. It is continuously at all times in communication with the soil, air, warmth, sunlight when it is there, when it is not it is doing other things, cell structure and that. So we have a homogeneous tree out there. Not just tree, but tree in the world around it.
Or as I said with a human being. Look at any human being objectively. That human being isn't there just all by itself. It is produced from it's causes, mother and father, and all of that. It is completely and thoroughly that every pore of the human being sitting there is immersed in the matrix of the world around it. Dependent on the oxygen, the warmth, moisture, the food it ate a little while ago. That is reality. Now we are talking something quite close to the whole involvement of what is reality on the mundane plane. The whole point of talking about this is to say that nothing happens without causes. By that I mean that if things happened without causes, then as we are sitting here a sunflower could suddenly appear in the middle of the air and we would all accept it because things could happen without causes. There would be no reason why a big sunflower would appear. And then a little thunder cloud could all of a sudden appear and rain heavily on the carpet. I'm making things up! But if it was all part of the scheme of reality that things would all of sudden happen... if an elephant would walk out from behind a tree over there... that would be congruent with that without a cause something happens, that sort of thing.
But we don't have things like that happen. Reality or the world around is is actually quite predictable because if you have a seed and plant it in the right kind of soil you will get a tree after awhile. And if the tree is supported and nurtured by the good things around it it will grow, flourish until it is very old, then it will die and rot and go back into the soil. That is part of reality. It is completely traceable.
And applicable to ourselves as human beings. We have our self. We can go back to our parents, in that way we have the evolution of human. And although I can't really talk from a Buddhist perspective about the original human beings, whatever, sometimes the theory of evolution is alright in talking about that. Watching a PBS show last week, different types of human beings, and they go back like thirteen million years to where they find the first rudimentary human form, the first causes of existence. Then there is something like the five major branches. The first three or four were wiped out. They didn't make it. But the last one did and it had two major types. One of them got up to about a hundred thousand years ago, the neanderthals, and they got somehow eliminated...and we made it, anyway.
All I am trying to say is that there is a definite scheme to things and there is an evolution. And it is some sort of process. And that is part of reality. So when you ask the question, well, I am trying to develop the perfection of wisdom, I'm trying to find out what is reality, well that question has to deal with what is blatantly obviously to us. And what is blatantly obvious is that there is a process. And things don't happen suddenly. It is a part of a process being here able to breathe the air. And it is holistic. It is not that things can happen in a non related sense. Our planet is holisticly part of the solar system. Part of the sun, and the planet being of such a distance, that then we have the right type of hydrogen, oxygen and all of that sort of scientific thing, and then we have the planet existing. The tides in the water because of the moon, the gravity. Actually even Jupiter has an effect on our tidal system. So we are completely holistically part of the solar system, and even part of the universe at large.
I am just talking about the reality of our situation. And in trying to become in touch with that, we have to relate it back to ourselves. I mean, all this scientific knowledge is sort of pumped out, it is quite valid as far as we can understand and know about it. In that way it is completely harmonious with the Buddhist perspective of the world which is saying that the law of cause and effect which means that all things have a process they are a part of. It is the law of cause and effect, karma.
You then have to say well what does that mean to me. You know, I am a person, sitting here, having my experience of the world around me. Well, what it means to have the perfection of wisdom is that you maybe can sit and relax and go into your breathing and to say my breathing completely mixes me with the world. The air, my breath, my lungs, the blood in my lungs, it completely pervades my body, I am completely part of the universe. As you sit there aware of breathing allow yourself to be aware of the fact that every different cell in your body is being fed by the fact of your breathing. So you have to sort of expand, allow your ego which normally sits up on top of your head somewhere and thinks sort of silly little thoughts and thinks very independent and very self centered little thoughts. You have to say to that ego little mind that you have, saying, hey, let's relax and become part of my whole being. Let my mind's consciousness, the consciousness that I have, the mind that I have, let my consciousness become sensitive or open to the whole being of myself. And so, what is being said is like right now I am conscious of this mahla. I have a consciousness of it alright? Fine and dandy. Now why don't I expand that. Sort of make it more holistic. Maybe the mahla has beads from the forest in the Amazon or something. The Amazon jungle is being chopped down. So I have this knowledge and the mahla becomes much more meaningful. Well, it is made from beads from very special set of trees, and maybe those trees arn't existing any more, you understand! You have added weight to the meaning of what these little bits of wood mean.
Same thing. When you are sitting in your body, allow the existence of your body to become more full of meaning. That as you sit there you are part of the world, and as you breath. Like I say. Every little cell of your body needs oxygen. So allow your mind to become conscious of that. Add that to the weight of the whole understanding and appreciation that you have. So as you breathe your whole body is part of that. And your consciousness now is starting to break out of it's very tight little ego-centric self. I am such and such and I am so and so and I dress such and such a way and I have such and such an image, just sort of allow that to break down a little. And you allow your mind to be closer to reality of what you are. You are a living entity and every pore of your being is existing right now because you are breathing. You are then starting to get into what can be termed as the perfection of wisdom. So that is the first phase of entering into wisdom is allowing yourself to appreciate that you are part of the world around you. And that is in the process of cause and effect, alright?
Now the second thing is then you have to ask yourself what does that mean to me as a person, as a personality, a mind? As a person who is sitting here experiencing listening to someone talk, processing the information, the personality which has got hopes and fears, aspirations of what we would like to do and such? And you sort of have to say, wisdom up there says everything is part of the process. How does that relate to my ego and personality. Relate to my appreciation of the world around me? By that I mean you have to say it must be that my personality is part of the process too! You sort of have to say it looks like that way in the world, does my ego sort of come like poof... personality, is it an evolutionary thing, is it a part of the process too? And you really have to to say that yes it is. If my personality has, we can't say where it has come from, unless we are clairvoyant or sensitive, we don't get in touch with our previous lifetimes, but we can say, well I came into this world, had a certain amount of potentiality, and then my parents gave input into that, and nurtured me and my personality developed. I was lucky, I had a supportive mother and father who nurtured me with love and kindness. And if I wasn't so lucky maybe I had an abusive mother or father, and they chastised me, beat me, and laid guilt trips on me and finally got me to do what they wanted, tried hard, anyway... so that developed my personality. So we have the energy of our individual being. It interacts with parents, brothers and sisters and whatever else is in my close family environment, and that was part of my process. And then I become a teenager. I started to find out that I could do things on my own. And I started to experiment with what I could and get away with, what I couldn't do and get caught at, and then I started to learn how to find my own pathways and finally I left home and started to experiment more and find out what I could do.
So, the whole of your personality is a process of finding out, discovery of input from others around you and you end up with your personality right now. And within that personality you have your hopes, fears, desires, wishes and whatever else. But it is all held in place by knowing that, yeah, if I go out and rob a bank I will get caught by the police and go to jail. It doesn't work that way. If I go out and get a job, I won't be filthy rich but I will be making money...you have to understand. Your personality right now is a product of it's upbringing. And that is why you were brought up in a certain way, that is why you don't steal from others, you don't rob banks to get your money because you have been cultivated in a certain way. You don't hurt other peoples feelings intentionally because you have a certain way your have been cultivated, yeah?
This is your reality. You have to think about yourself in that way. Well I am an evolutionary creature also. I am in a process. And when you start getting in touch with that, you have to do it homogeneously, very naturally, very authentically, that as you start to get in touch your reality in the world, you maybe touch base with the world around you, the solar system, and say that it is all inter-connected, you have to come back to your personality, saying my personality is all inter-connected with the world around me. My personality has evolved to it's position right now because of various inputs. So you start to touch base with your consciousness as it is right now in your body. Saying hey, this is how I am, how I perceive things, this is how I feel about things. And so you start to get into how you are right now and you are starting to get in touch with how it is that you have come to the position you are right now, you are starting to develop personal wisdom, and develop a little bit of an idea of it is that the would is around you, how it is that you exist at this particular moment.
Then you need to sort of then say if this is reality, let's talk about it out here. There is a personality sitting out here. And that is the personality sphere. If that personality has lots of negativity, let's put a rotten egg in the center of that personality. You know and it makes sort of a little smell around there... If you think about it, that is a negative attitude. And that negative attitude sits in the middle of that personality and maybe, it is very clever though. And this personality carries a plastic bag which it puts over it's rotten egg attitude and hides it. So people don't know that it is a stinker! This is fun! What it does is that it sets a set of facades or barriers so that we don't know how negative and unhappy that person is. They have a sort of way that they react so they go around in the world doing their things, trying to get what they way want and they continuously hide their negativity. Every so often it gets exposed. Everybody says "Oooh that person is negative!" and "Arn't they ugly!" and "Arn't they a stinker!" You know.. and that sort of thing. So you can see though, if negativity is the core of their being, they are unhappy and selfish and miserly and very uptight, those are sort of parts of what makes up a negative attitude. Being uptight, being angry, aggressive, hostile, lashing out at other people, greedy, things like that. Those are all sorts of things that if we think about it are very ugly. They are not nice things. They are stinky things. And that is where like if you put a rotten egg in the middle of there, some people can hide the fact that they have a lot of lousy attitude but every so often it comes out and everybody goes ughh. So, that if you think about it, there is sort of a nasty smell there. It sort of pervades what is around it. It also attracts flies, and other negativity. You have to mix the analogy with the reality. It attracts other negative things.
If it really is a stinky egg, then it's not going to be able to go places and stay very long where it is nice and beautiful and it will sort of be more comfortable around other stinky things, around other lousy things. So you think about it. If that is my personality, generally speaking, the lower grade my personality is, the more I am going to be looking to steal off of other people, take what I can, taking advantage of others, and I am going to also cover myself so that I don't get hurt. That negative attitude sets up the whose situation and it is ugly. And if we look at it in a holistic way, that is part and parcel of what that person creates around them. So instead of that lets say you set up a positive attitude, something really nice. Maybe like a nice bottle of Channel No 5. Something that smells nice. Something that is wonderful.
A really beautiful flower. You put a really a beautiful flower in there, beautiful aroma, scent, pleasant. When you smell it you feel blissful, you feel wonderful. Put that as the core of your personality and then of course all the different parts of the personality are pervaded with the beauty, the niceness, and we can understand, it puts out good energy all around it. Good attitude means things like being a kind person, a generous person, considerate, things like that. Good things there. Something that is nice. Bountiful. You could say a positive attitude is like being rich because you have a wealth of perspective. You look at things nicely. You look at things positively. Like, what can I do here? What can I do that makes it nicer? Things like that. That is because you have a richness when you go into a situation. You have something to give, you have a good energy.
Put that at the core of your being, like a beautiful flower, very fragrant, pervades beautiful good energy around, it also attracts nice things like bees and things like that. Makes things nice. Same thing. You can think of your personality in your own body and maybe judge your attitudes a bit. Well, in certain situations I get very uptight and if I get uptight, what is that going to do? Does it help the situation? Like I say come back to the whole thing of looking at the world around you. If we run part of Harmac's where they pump out all their garbage, if we put that out beside the apple tree in the field, is the apple tree going to live very long? It is going to die, it is going to get crippled, deformed fruit, the fruit is going to taste funny, all sorts of rotten things, isn't it. That is part of what happens when something negative like a bunch of dirty pollutants out beside something which is just sort of sitting there being part of the world around it. The apple tree, alright?
Same thing. If I put a negative attitude in myself and let it gain hold and pump out all of it's pollution, obviously things in my personality are going to get deformed, crippled, and that is part of what is happening. So when we have really ugly anger, we are really attached, we can't let go of people around us. We have heavy duty attachment, grasp at people, and we are very uptight and we make their life uncomfortable, make our life uncomfortable because we are always sort of anxious. We have a lot of attachment, jealousy. We have envy, all sorts of emotions kicking around inside of us. That is because our basic attitude is uptight, self centered and selfish, and we are miserable. And we are also very poor with good energy so we are very uptight about wanting to grasp things we like and pull them in close to us because we feel our own poverty of our own personality. So we get very grasping.
Instead of that lets put a really nice attitude there. Put in one of love and compassion or just of feeling good about yourself, I am alright. I feel good. And I would like to do something nice in the world around me. That sort of attitude doesn't grasp at other people, it does nice things to other people. So if you really think about it, if you want to keep someone around you, you do really nice things for them. You don't grasp at them, hang on to them, get clinging. If you are always nice to them, they will love you and they will always be with you so you don't have to worry about it. If you are a really nice person, no one will ever leave you because they always like you, you are a wonderful person to be around so they love it. So they always hang around you.
If you want people to like you, the best thing you could do is be a nice person, not a jealous person, an uptight person. What I am really getting to is that as part of this whole idea of wisdom which say I am an integral part of the universe, my personality, my being, is totally part of this universe. If I put my personality in a very positive head space, wonderful things can happen. If I put it in a negative head space, then I naturally set myself up to attract negativity, difficult situations, suffering, hassles, emotional upheavals there, so what a bummer.
So as you get into the perfection of wisdom, do it in a very integrated deep way, realizing that even the pores of your skin are right now rejoicing because you are taking a breath. They are all going, wow this is wonderful. We are alive, we are functioning, we are part of the world, we are part of the body, we are alive. And as you breathe feel bliss and happiness. From that point then, move to your personality and say hey personality, you, if you are in a positive head space, can do wonderful things. You feel really good, generous and warm, spread good energy in the world around you. And on the process of evolution, means like is that you have cleaned up all the streams, there is no more pollutants there. So all the natural things which are in you grow and flourish. Whereas when you get a negative attitude its like putting a little Harmac in your heart and you pump out pollutants and it starts to deform and pollute the soil around you, makes the things which grow in that soil get deformed, get ugly, get tasteless.
Same thing with your personality. It gets very ugly. Although you may think it is the most wonderful thing in the world, it becomes an ugly little thing. So that is how you start to develop the perfection of wisdom is by doing it very naturally, deeply by just being in touch with reality. Like I say there is no commenting as to who is the creator or who wasn't, or where I am going to, or where am I coming from, its just a very deep integral statement saying I am part of this world and being part of this world I can take more control of my situation, set up a positive attitude and make beautiful energy, make a beautiful scent that changes the world and does good things.
That is the first phase of the development of wisdom. To talk about the ultimate nature of reality is in the ultimate nature of reality it has to be that that is the final nature. If we talk of the ultimate it is the final. The thing. There is nothing that can be said after that. So in personality, just to touch base with your personality, what is the ultimate nature of my personality, the way that you can relate to it is to touch base with what was termed as interdependence. Just as the tree is interdependent with the soil and the air around it, so also my personality is interdependent with the causes which developed it as that. If everything is interdependent, that is there ever a limit that exists? If you ask the question to yourself right now, if you get in touch with your personality and ask where is the limit, where is the line where my being stops and something else in the universe happens, like where there is no more relationship? If you were to ask that question, where is the ultimate place where I can say things stop here and on the other side there is no more relation to it? Think about that. Where is the limits of being? For consciousness, your mind, ask where is the limits to my existence? And so maybe you say it's to the edge of your skin. Is that true? You will have to say no because your body's existence, being the way it is is right now is existent on the planet you are on. Being in this atmosphere. Being supportive, being nurtured, supported and carried by the world around you. You have to expand your mind which normally sets a tight little shell around you. Say, hey mind, let's expand beyond that. There is no limit. My skin isn't the limit of my being. So you expand, go out to the world and then ask is the limit the world around here, is it limited at a hundred feet above my head, and you will have to say no, there is something at two hundred feet and you have to dissolve that barrier, dissolve that limitation you are trying to put on reality. You have to go out saying my limit that I put on things, do they apply? You move to the planet, to the moon, sun, the other planets, expand. You can expand to our planet, the solar system, the galaxy, to it's inter-connection with other galaxies. There is things happening that connect those galaxies with energies, forces and such, so you have no limitation. There is no limitation. Your existence right now is wide open to everything that is happening around you. In that way you start to approach what could be termed the ultimate nature. All things are interdependent and there is no limitations to that.
You really have to get into letting your mind to open to the ultimate expression of all things are possible. There is no place you could say in a neurotic sense where you could have a security trip. Like saying if I hold onto this pillow everything is just fine. You can't do that any more if you start to get into the ultimate nature of reality is full openness. That all things are possible within realm of what is real. You can't sort of have fictitious things happen. The universe is a fully open system. And within that though, you have never negated that the fact that being positive, having love in your heart, being a kind person isn't producing good things. So you could almost think, you could put yourself in the position of, as long as I have love in my heart, compassion in my heart, I can completely give myself over to that great openness, the universal openness of the universe around me and have complete confidence. Because I am producing an evolution or a process of love, kindness, healing, however you want to term it, and as long as my mind is involved in that attitude I am covered, I am protected, I am in something positive. It is like the flower in the center of the mahla is creating a beautiful aroma and as long as my mind remains centered on that attitude, the world will be transformed around me, will be beautiful. Maybe there is ugly things there, doesn't matter. As long as I am transforming my attitude, in that positive context, always there is positive things happening. Whatever has happened, doesn't matter. My attitude is my sole protection. My being a consciously positive person is my sole resting place. And it is part of the interdependent world around me.
In that way you touch base with the nature of the universe which is interdependent and yet you still you have a context for yourself in being that having a positive attitude is the way to be in the world, it creates goodness in the world about you and as I say it is your final resting place to be in a positive attitude, one that is everlastingly positive.
In working on your own wisdom, your own realization of the world, try to do it in the context of touching base with what is the material physical reality in the world, as you touch base with that then move it back into your personality as say just as the tree, the grass are all part of the world around me, my personality is part of the world around, just like that it is completely mixed, and then start to apply that to yourself regarding questioning your attitude and how it harms or creates good energy in the world. You have that within yourself that you can do that. If you see then the ultimate, the ultimate is is that there is no boundary, there is no limitations to reality, reality is a fully open system. Within that then if I keep my positive attitude, I can allow myself to completely go to that ultimate expression of positive attitude, that which creates goodness in the world around me. And then maybe if in some ways, like even if you use the Christian approach, like God is all loving and good, not worrying or being concerned with the idea of like God is the creator, but rather like God is like the ultimate expression of goodness and love, then our mind has access to that via that sort of pathway of being positive and open to the universal expression to the universally open system way.
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