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.
Duncan Jan 26 1992
It is good to quickly review ones motivation as it is the energy as to why one does things, and will be the creation of how one experiences life as things go on. If you have a mundane aspiration as to why you meditate, then you will only receive mundane results such as happiness in this lifetime, less stressed and more relaxed, and with that type of motivation, that is all you will attain. And although there is noting wrong with that, the scope of that motivation is very limited. We do have to await for the approach of death. And there is the possibility of future lives although they are not blatant, there is with analysis th conclusion that there is a great possibility that there are future lives. In that being the case, if we motivate with a broad mindedness saying may I in this and all future lives develop greater skills and qualities. Then in the future life you will automatically have a sense of wanting more depth, and greater quality in yourself. So in that way, you can affect your future lifetime by offering prayers in this lifetime and therefore it is good to be conscious of that.
Also, if you wish to have greater spiritual realization, also our mind has to be turned that way, made to go that way. If you think of the mind that you have, it is like there are facets in front of you. And if you do not turn your mind or open your mind to make those facets to open, you have very limited scope. And it is not anything very profound. It is just that your mind is not triggered to see beyond it's basic understanding.
An example for that, if you are told to go out and collect a particular type of mushroom and if you were described only that mushroom, maybe there was a different mushroom worth double or triple the price. If you were never introduced to what they looked like and never told they were in that area, you would walk around picking the one type and thinking how wonderful it was, and yet right beside it might be thousands of the other more precious mushrooms!
The point is, if your mind is not made to be conscious, particularly in regards to your own perspective and where you are coming from, then it is difficult to say I am definitely going to become spiritual. You might say, may I become a nicer person, may I develop qualities, may I be able to attain to some deeper realizations as to the meaning of reality, whatever your particular appreciation of spirituality is. you might offer something general, but if it does not trigger you to reflect and open your mind, then you are acquiring some positive merit, but the merit that actually opens your mind and lets you see the world in a bigger way just is not happening. Therefore it is worthwhile spending even five minutes reflecting on yourself and why you are doing what you are doing, you know!
And the intention from the mahayana side, the Buddha's side, is not that you should be paranoid that you are not creating the greatest merit or something, but you are not opening your mind in the best of ways. But the idea is, that you should try to think about, I would like to benefit sentient beings, and by my spiritual practice may I gain some integration, some realization, and may I be of benefit to sentient beings. That is nice. But you could reflect a little deeper. How do I want to benefit sentient beings? Sure, I could walk around giving money, smiling at everyone, that is interesting, But if you think about it, everyone will ask why I am so full of smiles? Does it really mean much? Am I accomplishing very much?
You are accomplishing something! You are accomplishing being a smiling person. But if for example, you are reflecting on your own nature existence, like how do I kick and what makes me function? Where am I making mistakes regarding how I am acting in the world? Where do I commit myself to a deluded vision of the world and therefore make myself suffer, because my understanding is of a deluded nature.
For example, using abusive words. The "f" word has a powerful effect in influencing other people. So, you have to look, what am I doing? I get so that people avoid me now. What is happening? So I have to reflect well, obviously, something in my idea about how I should interact with the world is faulty. So maybe if you think about it, you could come to the conclusion that not everyone likes hearing the "f" word. Maybe there are other ways to express oneself when one wants to add emphasis to some statement. So with a little intelligence and investigation, you change your perspective and stop using the "f" word and therefore things change and maybe people start liking you or something. So there is a realization there. I have changed myself a little.
Same thing. Think of yourself and your motivation. Think of when people meet with you, they do pick up what kind of person you are. They pick up, this person is defensive. This person is quite open minded, this person is open minded but careless. And we can start to become conscious, and even pick it up quite quickly by what comes out of their mouth and how they act.
We want to be of benefit and affect others in a positive way. Then, we should reflect and say, well, if I start to understand my own quality and nature deeper, and then all I do is add the facet that may I be a little more profound with my relationships with others, set up a different aura for yourself, a different way of interacting. People might come at times and ask you about important issues in their life because they can feel you are receptive to them. You have receptivity which means you have opened your heart or opened yourself a little. You are willing to listen to someone. You do not just sit there and say I do not want to listen to your garbage.
All that comes from motive. It is just from how you set yourself up. If you become a very busy person, you don't want to spend time with anyone, you really are getting this way, people say you are far to busy, there is no need to phone or talk to them, they don't even know what is going on in the world, they are so caught up in their own little world. People are like that. So it is worth while to spend time examining where you are coming from. Think about your mind. Reflect on what you did today. Did you spend time involved with negativity, talking in a negative tone about a lot of things. What kinds of feelings did we leave with people? For, you are the owner of your own happiness. You are the one which creates your experience of reality and so it is good to reflect particularly if you aspire to be more attuned, spiritual, more real or authentic.
When you create the image of being a nicer person, you should analyze it and ask what sort of nicer person? Do you want to be someone who just smiles, or do you want to have a little more depth to your character. So people respond on a deeper emotional level to you. Friendships then grow deeper and sources of joy and happiness can be deeper too if one has good charity in spiritual awareness, for example establishing good relationships with others, is not so much that one then suffers from emotional attachment, but that you are motivated that you would like to uplift other people around you. So your objective is one which uplifts and takes them beyond just my attachment to you, my attachment within me and to you as a body or person. More, it is our relationship and where we can go with that relationship in an on going process. And it is all included within motivation.
So in regards with the Seven Point Mind Training we are going to be doing, much of it has to deal with that. Just where you are coming from, what is motivating you. How do you feel about the things you are doing.
In regards to the Seven Point Mind Training, it is very hard to tame the ego. We have certain facets of our personality which are like a piece of granite. It is going to take a long time beating on it with a sledge hammer to make it slowly shift from it's position. Yet, it is worthwhile, otherwise we go to the next lifetime with the same problem. Some of the ways our mind things are quaint. Like, what happened in my pervious lifetime to make me the way I am? I can't find it in this lifetime, the cause for it, but it is there. It functions. I guess a particular way your mind goes click and goes over into this particular channel.
We do have the opportunity to take that and be creative and try to move beyond the negative things within ourselves. And it is worthwhile, even if it is a very big chunk of granite. As that process is a very long one and very arduous one, and we can easily get depressed and feel overwhelmed by the inability to tame or control our personality, it's negative side, it is beneficial to have an object of faith and an object for prayer.
One student with a great deal of pain took meditation teachings from me and a little bit of prayers to do also. The person's comment was that in dealing with the pain they had, meditation was fine but prayer was more satisfactory in dealing with it. I had to appreciate that yes, it is. It generates energy. And when you start firing up the motor of prayer, it really does change you, it does give you some energy. And there is nice things to come out of that.
With that thought in mind and with the fact that we are entering into the text, I thought we would try to do something more along that vein. So I picked a prayer from guru yoga. There is a long version to this practice, but I thought maybe you would not actually sit down and do it, but what I would like is that if you could memorize this prayer. It has a lot of meaning, there is a lot of depth to the visualizations, it is a good basis for one's tantric initiations and tantric practice at a later date, so there is an on going process you are involved with. It is not just saying this prayer is a limited thing, there is a lot of depth.
One of the Dalai Lama's tutors, once when he was talking to a friend of mind and myself, got into a commentary on these five lines of prayer. He explained that the very highest of the tantric exercises regarding the energy channels and wind can be done in conjunction with this particular prayer. So there is a great deal of depth that can be done with this simple five lines. It depends on the visualization and such. But certainly, faith, from our side having faith in previous practitioners who have done a great deal of practice is beneficial. In reflecting on them and saying a prayer to them, it is not that we are giving away responsibility for who we are, but rather we are seeking inspiration. Sort of giving ourselves more fuel for our practice.
In feeling that one receives the blessings, both from the lineage of teachings and from one's own spiritual master, one can feel more stable in one's practice with that sense of stability. And also conjoined together with prayer.
This particular prayer is aimed at Tsong Khapa who is the founder of the particular sect that I practiced in. And in being that, the fellow was an extremely profound practitioner. At a young age he was recognized as a reincarnation of Manjushri. But on top of that, he demonstrated a terrific intellect. He did many millions of prostrations and mandala offerings and accrued a great deal of merit which was passed onto his lineage which has been very weal, thy since his establishment. As for other practices, he did gain full samadhi and when he passed away, he entered into meditational concentration on the throne as he was teaching and his body remained in state in that position. He was a wonderful fellow. There are more stories to tell but I do not want to get into detail.
This prayer identifies the three major realizations we would like to have. That of love, wisdom, and ability. Love and compassion, symbolized by Avalokiteshvara, is that compassion has no bias or prejudice. It is boundless in the sense of being open to all limitless sentient beings. And that is the quality of the Buddha. When one relies upon the Buddha, the Buddha looks equally on all sentient beings whether they are Buddhist or non Buddhist, old or young, poor or rich. The Buddha has no fluctuations within their mind regarding that sentient being. So that is the first verse, identifying that the Buddhas and the gurus have unbiased love, work equally for all sentient beings, and manifest accordingly for that sentient beings needs. It does not mean that the Buddha would always manifest as a Buddha, he could manifest in whatever aspect as appropriate for particular sentient beings needs.
The second is Manjushri, stainless jewel of omniscient wisdom. He is the Buddha of wisdom. Tsong Khapa was said to have been an emanation of the Buddha Manjushri because he amassed a great deal of the Buddha's texts and commentaries, first memorized them and received teachings on their meaning, and then wrote extensively on them. And that is why he became so popular, he was clear and precise in his presentation of the teachings. Regarding the Buddhas and reflecting on the gurus, Buddhas, and wisdom, the Buddha's wisdom is not deluded. When he looks or acts with a sentient being, his omniscient mind understands the previous lifetimes karma and effect on the being, this lifetimes effects, and then will prescribe what is appropriate for them. So if we turn our mind to the Buddha and offer prayers, then we do receive blessings and understanding which help us to work with our own particular path.
The next quality is that of Vajrapanni, considered the manifestation of power. Power in Buddhism, is not meant as the ability to blow things away. We consider that worldly power. Like if someone has the biggest guns and is powerful, we are polite to them, arn't we? whereas in this particular sense, this power or control we are talking about is control over one's own mind. And this control over one's mind is considered supreme. If one's own mind were within one's control, then all options are right there! There is everything within that one stream of consciousness, within the ability to control yourself. So it is said, to Vajrapanni, destroyer of mara's forces, mara is delusion. That which veils our mind and makes us insensitive, ignorant and such. By praying to the Buddha who has complete self realization, we can understand that the Buddha, does not get affected by delusions, doesn't loose their ability to do what is necessary to interact.
For example, if someone is angry at you, if they are effective at their anger, you get upset inside and shaking inside. And sometimes you can get so emotional you cannot talk any more. You have to sit there or you could leave the room, or you yell at them! The point is, you loose control. You can not handle all that comes on you. For a Buddha, they do not loose that. A person could yell at them all they want, their mind is calm and in control, and when it is necessary they say something, don't worry, be happy!
There is that control. When you pray to the Buddha, and I think our mind can be extremely deluded sometimes. But we should not think that the Buddhas get uptight about that and back off. The Buddhas are not bothered by how deluded our mind gets. And that is important! Because I can guarantee you when you have heavy delusion, you thing the Buddha's don't love you any more. Or spiritual beings don't like you, can't handle you because you are too crazy! That is how I sometimes get it in my mind, when I am more deluded. I can't think very clearly. I somehow think that the Buddhas don't really like me, and you can make yourself depressed. When you do that you think the Buddhas are far away. That is not the case. They have no problem whatsoever to be right there with you even in your most intensive moments of self pity.
It is worthwhile to know that because sometimes we do not understand the qualities of the Buddhas. Then, we put distance or think we put distance between ourselves and the Buddhas because we think we did something bad. Because of that we put ourselves down. And then we don't even want to come to meditation on Sunday night because we think we are so bad! Something like that! It happened to me regarding my own teachers, that I would think I have been so bad recently if I go in front of them they are going to see it. They are clairvoyant and know what is going on. I'm so humiliated, you know!
The point is, if you have faith, they already know anyway so what is the problem? And actually, it's good that one can face one's delusion. Because if one can, that is plus marks for yourself. Anyway, Vajrapanni destroyer of Mara's forces, the Buddha is not afflicted by any problems.
Tsong Khapa, crown jewel of the snow land pandits, identifies his being very special, very precious, Losang Dragpa, to your feet I pray, is just please I pray to you to bless me.
Principally love and compassion is acted out with our body. From the Buddhists side, they say the place of the bodies activities is at the forehead. So when you say the prayer, think, I would like to receive the blessings of body, and of course the body is the way express love and compassion and kindness through activity. So when you say that line, you can think white light radiates from the guru in the space before you and touches your forehead, radiates into your body and purified whatever negativity there is in body. Then, Manjushri, radiates into one's throat. It is said that one knows the sign of another wisdom by the way they speak. In that way although wisdom is of the mind, it is understood when it is expressed, and that is related with speech. Also all the wisdom of the Buddha's teachings, is via speech when taught. In that way also, speech is said to be tied with wisdom. So you should have red light that comes to your throat and purifies the throat chakra, the ability to speak with the blessings of the Buddha.
And finally, the color blue, related to mind, which is considered immutable because nothing can change it being it is dark and deep, is visualized radiating into your heart. The heart is not your physical heart, but at the level at the heart in the venter of the chest, and that is Vajrapanni, destroyer of mara's forces. And you can visualize that the light radiates into your heart chakra, therefore your delusions, especially the heavy delusions like emotional delusions, are relaxed and our mind becomes more free and clear. Therefore we have freedom. Ability. Control over our own mind.
Sometimes people think control of the mind is like putting a steel shackle on top of it and bolt it up. It is in a way, but it's actually suppression. One has to be careful when one suppresses things. They end up coming up in other ways. A more beneficial way is to work with ones delusions, is to throw it into space. And then, it needs something to hang onto to make you deluded, so if you throw your mind into more spacious head space or perspective, very often delusion has more trouble. Rather than suppressing it and holding oneself down, one should try to open up and let go. Get the delusion out of oneself. So that is Vajrapanni, destroyer of maras forces.
So you get white, red, blue, and as you pray you could go, white for a little while, red for a little while, blue, and then all three together.
In doing this you could reflect on Tsong Khapa, all of the lineage masters in that lineage, from back to Shantideva, Nagarjuna, Asanga, Atisha, Dom Demba, the great kadampa masters, down to Tsong Khapa. So you should think coming down from the great saints from the Buddha down, and in that way visualize yourself receiving blessings of them. And in that way, saying the prayer and asking for stability and such, is good.
It is worth while saying the prayer a little when you are relaxed. A lot of time when you are suffering is the time to think what can I do with myself. And that is a good time to say a prayer, so it is nice to have it memorized. And you will find it calms you down.
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