Annual India Tours
These lectures were transcribed by T Vd Broek. Heartfelt
gratitude is offered for all the hours of work spent on this Dharma activity.
These talks are offered free of charge. They have been slightly edited.
January 19 1992
Tonight I would like to give what is termed the transmission for the teaching. We will be following a more traditional line for the meditations on Sundays. Though I do not want to intimidate those who are not Buddhist, as other is what is termed the transmission of the teachings of Buddhism, for those who have been in the group for a long time, it is meaningful that they do receive these on occasion as they then have what is said to be the authentic transmission of the teachings from the Buddha down through various masters and teachers in an unbroken succession until they were received from myself in India, and now I am transmitting them to you. You will be the on going succession. If any of you ever did get requested by others or felt it appropriate to give teachings, you could for example, transmit this particular teaching in the manner that I will do. And then the lineage will continue. You never know how things evolve as the years go by. And at some point, someone might ask for an official Buddhist teaching. This is how you receive them, when you get what is called the transmission.
With the transmission can be commentary. The commentaries are on occasion transmitted, but are not necessarily a necessary part of the transmission. There is an oral tradition, then a tradition of experience for the transmission commentary, for the giving of the commentary. The emphasis is rather on the actual text.
In receiving teachings, our mind and how our attitude is will determine how we experience what we are involved with. In involvement with meditation, the focus for our own personal development is that we gain better understanding for ourselves, our life, and with meditation, to gain some integration on our understandings so it becomes a more experiential thing. If we do not recognize our motivation, the results of what we are involved with are unclear. For example, if you walk out the door and decide to go to Nanaimo, in that decision of wanting to go and do so, by getting in your car, motorcycle or train, you would pursue that. That is the method to get to Nanaimo. But you did have, (1) motive, saying I want to go to Nanaimo, and (2) you had the vehicle that you relied upon, and (3) finally you arrive in Nanaimo.
Same thing. When we focus on something internal, our own mind state, and we are saying the mind we have is the creator of our happiness, or our suffering. With this recognition, one works on one's mind to create a better mind, to have a more positive attitude to feel better about ourselves, to be more productive in our relationships with others. If those are our aspiration, there is no harm in touching base with that and saying, yes, I do strive to be a more happy person, more integrated, more enlightened. In taking that moment to say, yes, that is what I want, then you clarify the motive. And the objective is, a more happy integrated person. And the means is for example, participating in these teachings and doing meditation. That puts the whole practice together in a realizable manner.
So it is good to always clarify our motive first when we are involved with meditation. After a number of years, the results do actually start to manifest within us in a clear manner rather than saying I have been meditating for four or five years and I do not know what is happening to me. Maybe I am getting more peaceful, but nothing is getting too clear. A lot of that will be because we have never been very clear as to what our motive is. So with a positive motivation saying I would like to be happier, more realized, more enlightened, and if we can, trying to broaden our perspective and saying, I am not gong to do this for my own benefit, but also to be more positive in my relationships with the world around me, and in that way have a broad minded attitude. Everyone wants happiness, no one wants suffering, so to be best of my ability I will try to become a more positive productive person and also try to share that good energy whenever I am with other people. So we have what is termed bodhicitta, the enlightened attitude of trying to help many sentient beings.
Last time I talked about Atisha, the very realized master and great scholar who came to Tibet from India in his mid fifties and lived until his seventies. Of the many things he taught, most were general teachings such as how to take refuge from the Buddha, how to be more positive, how to abandon negativity, and these were considered the general teachings. But he had what was termed the secret teachings which were only transmitted to very special people because he felt at that time most Tibetans were not advanced or capable of moving themselves to a higher level of practice. Therefore he taught most of these teachings to Dondemba, his principle student, and to a few of the other monks secretly that were around who became the originators of the Kadhampa tradition. The teachings remained secret for around four or five generations. Finally, a few of the masters about a hundred years after Atisha's passing, started to write them down and to teach them in the general manner.
You might wonder why these teachings were considered secret and more profound, more secret and difficult to master than other teachings. The reason is general teachings are the taming of one's own mind. For example one tries to recognize that one needs to rely on someone who is more enlightened or realized than oneself, that one needs to pursue a particular path. And therefore one has the Buddha as the founder, relying on the Buddha's teachings is the way to become more enlightened, to have the spiritual community as the supports for the path to enlightenment. If within that one abandons negative karma or bad actions or bad attitude, one tries to have a positive attitude and do good when we can, and such, and then one does concentration meditations, tries to gain more freedom of mind through concentration and meditation and finally one tries to gain internal experience which would be true realization. And then one progresses from there into actual enlightenment which is a transcendental state which is realized within.
Those are the general teachings and not quite too difficult to practice because no one is hassling you. In these teachings, it says that the principle object that causes all our problems is our selfishness. It is the main reason why we do not become enlightened, why we have troubles, arguments, and difficult situations with people around us. It is said if we were to point a finger at any place where all of our problems come from, it comes from our self cherishing attitude. And if we can bring ourselves to recognize it as the principle problem, then we start to change our attitude. Our attitude is the way that we look at the world. That is why these teachings are called mind training or thought transformation. Or transmutation, in the sense that you take the base mind and actually try to transmute it into something more productive that creates merit from the very nature of what it is. So it transmutes the crud of our personality into a source of great wealth of spiritual experience.
Anyway we are moving into a more dynamic style of practice. It is also harder because it is making a demand on you to give up self cherishing. And on the lower spiritual paths, being concerned about yourself is one of the main motives. If one wants to go to heaven, you could say most spiritual traditions, I mean, the relationship of yourself and the divine being is that you be very good, and very sincere, and very honest with yourself. And then you establish a relationship with the divine, and with it you please the divinity and then you go to heaven so to speak.
For a Buddhist practitioner, that is a valid path, one which is termed a lower level of spiritual practice. But if one wants a more profound level, one should not be concerned with one's own self needs, because with a selfish attitude, still a lot of suffering can be generated and one cannot become that effective in the relationships with the world. A higher level of spirituality is to abandon self concern and just generate an open mindedness for when one participates with the world around. So one takes the same basic spiritual practice and changes the place where one is coming from. Rather than saying, I am going to be a kind hearted person because that is my ticket to heave, one says, I am going to be kind hearted person because it is my ticket to heaven and also everyone wants happiness, no one wants to suffer! So why should I think of my own self, my own little needs to be happy, to attain fulfillment, spiritually whatever, you actually recognize everyone wants to be happy. So I should also be inclusive of others.
It is taking basic spiritual practice but breaking down the self concern that we feel much of the time. And, making our attitude more open minded. And you can sense automatically you become a much more heart warming person to be around. People would enjoy your company because all of a sudden you are not uptight and maybe puritanical. Rather you are an open hearted person who has good feelings for others and tries to share and help others be positive. It really depends on your own internal wisdom, how well you help other people. If you have little wisdom, sometimes you just get self righteous. If you have a lot of wisdom, you learn how to do it in quite a creative way. Then, people feel inspired in their spirituality and not pushed into their spiritual practice.
So Atisha transmitted this to Dondemba who transmitted through a series of masters, finally one wrote it down and this then became The Seven Point Mind Training. That is what we are going to be studying over the next while.
There is a wonderful flavor of the teachings of the Kapampa Masters. The teachings, it says, takes the demon of self cherishing and throws dirt in it's face. What is meant is one takes one's nasty old attitude which always makes troubles for oneself. And one recognizes it. And stops it in it's place. Atisha obviously inspired his students to be never meticulous. And he always stressed motivation, kind heartedness, bodhicitta or universal responsibility, trying to be helpful and beneficial in the world around. The major emphasis was, to look at your mind. Recognize the activities of your mind. And from there you will accomplish being a bodhisattva, becoming a more positive person that influences the world. In this then, the most important thing is to stop activities which are based on self interest, and try to swing oneself over to activities which are of benefit for others around you. To loose self concern. Of course this involves a high spiritual agenda for yourself, a spiritual motivation. But if you do it well, if is not to difficult. If you do it poorly, you will become a difficult person to be around because you will become very uptight. The main thing is to do it in a gradual transformative process.
From Atisha came the start of what was called the Kadhampa tradition. They were active for about a hundred and fifty years more or less. And their tradition disappeared and Tsong Khapa or the Gelug tradition took over. And so they are actually called the new Kadhampas and are based on Tsong Khapa's taking all of the old Kadhampa traditions and revitalizing them because at that point they have become quite scattered.
Some of the Kadhampa masters were outstanding. For example shortly after Atisha was in Tibet, one Kadampa monk who had taken his teachings and was very sincere had gone off to live in the mountains. He lived in a little cave and had a little altar with bowls, a little wood fire in the corner, and his bed, and he would pray and meditate and be very pure. At one point he heard that he was going to get a visitor, a well known benefactor of meditating monks. So that morning he spent extra time sweeping up, cleaning his offering bowls and had his offering a little more special. Then he sat down, quite proud of himself, he had done a good job today. This benefactor would come and be very pleased with him. Then he recognized his concern with his self image. The offset was he would get a few extra offerings maybe. So he became furious with himself and tossed ashes all over his altar and said, to hell with it. So he sat again in his dirty little room. At least he had stopped the demon of his self concern! The benefactor came and gave whatever he did, that is not the point. It is said that him having done this, word got out about this particular master had done this to his alter to stop his self cherishing. The gossip spread through Tibet, and one of the great masters, Khadampa Sangye, a great yogi from India teaching at Tibet at that time said upon hearing the gossip, "Ah in Tibet there are still pure practitioners, someone has thrown dirt in the face of his self cherishing!"
There are many stories like this. However the main point is to recognize the activities that we do. We should try to the best of our ability to put ourselves in the sincere position of wanting to benefit others and to stop or slow down our self interests and self concern. Although we are not monks and nuns and should not put that level of practice on ourselves, we should not beat ourselves emotionally and mentally if we are a little self cherishing, that would be ridiculous. What would be the benefit of making yourself depressed if you have self cherishing. We all have self cherishing. Even the Khadampa masters had self cherishing. But the point is that we should try slowly to recognize self cherishing when it functions and try to adjust it and to change our attitude a bit. And then we have a very real practice which does truly benefit the world around us.
I would like to do the transmission of the teachings for you which means I just read them. I received them in Tibetan from his Holiness the Dalai Lama, from Ling Rinpoche my own personal teacher, and also in Australia from Geshe Thubten Lodon. So I have received them at least three or four times from various teachers, and now I am re-transmitting them to yourselves.
SEVEN POINT MIND TRAINING
Rays of the Sun edition
Homage to great compassion.
The essence of this nectar of secret instruction
Is transmitted from Suvarnadvpa (Ser-lingpa).
You should understand the significance of this instruction
As like a diamond, the sun and a medicinal tree.
This time of the five degenerations will then be transformed
Into the path to the fully awakened state.
First train in the preliminaries.
Banish the one to blame for everything,
Meditate on the great kindness of all beings.
Practice a combination of giving and taking.
Giving and taking should be practised alternately
And you should begin by taking from yourself.
These two should be made to ride on the breath.
Concerning the three objects, three poisons and three virtues
The instruction to be followed, in brief,
Is to take these words to heart in all activities.
When the environment and its inhabitants overflow with unwholesomeness,
Transform adverse circumstances into the path to enlightenment.
Apply meditation immediately at every opportunity,
The supreme method is accompanied by the four practices.
Train in the five powers.
The five powers themselves are the great vehicle's
Precept on the transference of consciousness,
Cultivate these paths of practice.
Integrate all the teachings into one thought,
Primary importance should be given to the two witnesses,
Constantly cultivate only a peaceful mind.
The measure of a trained mind is that is has turned away,
There are five great marks of a trained mind.
The trained mind retains control even when distracted.
Always train in the three general points,
Engage vigorously in the forceful cultivation and abandonment,
Subjugate all the reasons for selfishness.
Train consistently to deal with difficult situations,
Don't rely on other conditions.
Transform your attitude, but maintain your natural behavior
Don't speak of others incomplete qualities,
Don't concern yourself with other's business,
Give up every hope or reward,
Avoid poisonous food,
Don't maintain misplaced loyalty,
Don't make malicious banter,
Don't wait in ambush,
Don't strike at the vital point,
Don't place the load of a horse on a pony,
Don't sprint to win the race,
Don't turn gods into devils,
Don't seek others' misery as a means to happiness.
Every yoga should be performed as one.
There are two activities at both beginning and end,
Train first in the easier practices.
Whichever occurs be patient with both,
Guard both at the cost of your life,
Train in the three difficulties,
Transform everything into the great vehicle path,
Value an encompassing and far reaching practice,
Seek for the three principal causes,
Purify the coarser ones first,
Practice that which is more effective,
Don't let three factors weaken,
Never be parted from the three possessions,
If you relapse, meditate on it as the antidote.
Engage in the principal practices right now,
In future, always put on armor,
Don't apply a wrong understanding,
Don't be sporadic,
Release investigation and analysis,
Don't be boastful,
Don't be short-tempered,
Don't make a short-lived attempt,
Don't expect gratitude.
When stability has been attained, impart the secret teaching.
Consider all phenomena as like dreams,
Examine the nature of unborn awareness.
The remedy itself is released in its own place,
Place the essence of the path on the nature of the basis of all.
In between meditation sessions, be like on conjuror or
In the period between sessions be a creator of illusions.
Over the next weeks we will do the teachings on this.
The most important thing we do is our own personal motivation, where we are coming from. Like why did we come here this evening. And, we have some objectives we would like to attain, well, in striving for attainment, it is worth thinking about which are short term and which are long term. So for the meditation, ask yourself, why did you come, whether an old or new student. Then go into, in my motivation, am I just living for a short term goal? Or do I have deeper aspirations regarding myself. If we touch base with these things, we can find the meaning of our life, and this becomes an incredible source of fulfillment, joy, and good energy for living a positive life. So if we can bring to mind that experience or sensation, that says this is what I want to be, this is what I want to go towards, in finding that, then we should bring ourselves to meditate peacefully within that conscious realization and allow that to be our meditation. And all we are doing is becoming more consciously integrated with the meaning of why we are living our life.
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