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.
Feb 2 1992
We are starting a new series of teachings. In doing that, the emphasis of the practice is really to take ones basic awareness and try to give it quality. To try to give it a possibility of development or conscious experience. So although there is some intellectual framework which is given, the real essence of the teachings is your own mind stream's experience. How you experience yourself. And how you can, via meditation, reflecting on how your mind perceives the world, adjust it to be in a more positive position which is more conducive to everlasting happiness and great bliss, or enlightenment, however.
To do that, the framework of the teachings are to give us guidelines. But we should always try to work at our own level. Some of us have a more profound level of understanding, and some of us have an initial level. And it is not that we should compare ourselves to others. We should look at it as our mind, our level of experience, and that is all we need to worry about. If there were comparisons being made, then obviously, there are others who are better than us, and there is nothing beneficial in that. You only experience who and what you are. You could have a saint beside you and still you would have the same mind. Or you could have a very unpleasant negative person beside you, but still it is still up to you as to how you turn your mind, how you create your experience of reality.
So meditation and the process we are involved in with these teachings, is essentially based on assuming personal responsibility. And in that sense, saying, I would like to do something for myself in a conscious manner. As that is the case, it is always worthwhile to spend a few moments just finding ones reason or motive for being here, particularly, and looking at life around one. For that, the easiest thing to say, from the Buddhist ideal, is we all want happiness, no one wants to suffer. And you can think of everything you do, all the activities you do. Work. Eating food. Everything. It is all dictated in your mind from saying, I like to be happy, I do not want to suffer. Therefore if I do this particular activity, it seems that I can become happy. Like I say, if you feel motivated so, then you would get up and go to work. If you feel that being happy does not require work, then you don't get up and go to work. If you don't particularly worry about it, then the food choices you make, the diet you have, all those are within the framework of the mind looking at how much it extends itself and puts energy into the particular realization I want. And when we find the gauge of that, then we pursue various types of activities to attain happiness.
The emphasis here is to say that happiness is within ourselves, relying on externals is not where we will find happiness. You could find someone with terrific wealth, and yet they are still miserable. And yet you can find someone else who has very little, and yet they are very happy. So obviously the external reliance of having possessions or toys is not the cause of happiness. It is an internal experience, internally perceive things and experience things. With that being the case, certainly here and now we should look at our mind and say to ourselves, if happiness were totally attainable outside ourselves, then many other people would already have it. It would then certainly be demonstrated, for example, money, wealth, prestige, fame, whatever, are the source of happiness. It would then be always valid to say, yes, this is true. Yet we can think of many people who have attained those things who still are miserable. So the real source of happiness is within. In that way, when we recognize that within our mind, then we should then turn our motive, particularly in a spiritual pursuit or inner development, our aspirations should be the recognition of the desire to be happy, the wish to avoid suffering. And the only thing to add to that is to maybe reflect and most of the happiness I do experience, joy, love, any of the things I enjoy, do involve others. If you think of it, being able to share time with someone, being able to love someone, being able to just laugh with people, whatever, whether it is with people or just with the world around, it involves others.
Although I am not saying that you are relying on others totally, the point is, if we realize internally that happiness is created from our own internal minds side, we should also then try to realize that including others and trying to make the world a happier place is a positive head space. It sort of puts everything in the same direction. Therefore, not only striving for our own happiness which is inner realization, inner stability, coming from a very conscious reality experience, we should also say may I include the world around. May I try to make the world a better and happier place for others too. In that way we are in a positive position, and certainly our relationship to the world is also in a positive position.
So with that as the basis, the Seven Point Mind Training, which is the basis of the text, says, HOMAGE TO GREAT COMPASSION, THE ESSENCE OF THE NECTAR OF THE SECRET TEACHINGS, TRANSMITTED FROM SARVADEPA, SERLINGPA, meaning Atisha, in the 12th and 13th century went to Indonesia and received all these teachings from Serlingpa. In having received them, he returned to India, and then with the invitation of the Tibetan people, he was invited to Tibet. And he remained in Tibet for approximately ten years and during that time transmitted most of these teachings. They were considered secret because for the average person, teaching them just to be virtuous and try to abandon negativity, negative attitude and such, was all that way really most of them were capable of. Whereas with the more developed practitioner, for a person with a more keen intellect and sharper mind, there are higher practices, more profound practices. And that is what the basis of this teaching is. It is saying how to take all the rotten things that we experience and bring them into the path.
The translation says, the bodhisattvas are spiritual warriors who are able to look at being able to transform all experiences of life into the path. The path meaning, the practice that brings one to enlightenment, and in that sense also helps the world by bringing that enlightenment energy to the world around.
YOU SHOULD UNDERSTAND THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS INSTRUCTION IS LIKE A DIAMOND, THE SUN, AND A MEDICINAL TREE.
Tonight I want to talk about that if you have the right perspective or understanding, then your whole relationship with the world can be quite wonderful. With wrong understanding, things can be very lousy. Atisha gives three examples to help you understand how to look at the world, the attitude that you are trying to generate. We are talking about the mind looking at the outside world and gets a reflection of the world back to our mind. That reflection, if we have a bad attitude, then although things are reflected purely, our mind perverts things, turns them sour, makes them colored in a negative way.
They use as an example, if you have jaundice, looking at a white snow mountain in the distance, you see it as yellow because of the disease. That is to say that our mind when it is not realized, is like that, diseased or polluted. Then when we look at anything in the world, its reflection is tainted. When we become healthy and loose the illness, then the mountain is seen with white snow and we recognize that it was never yellow! Like that! They say our mind right now, when it gets the reflection of the world, it is our attitude which takes that and turns it into something different. Sort of pollutes it.
So, we want to be able to look at our mind and ask how is it that my mind is misconceiving reality. How is it that when I meditate and go within then, that I should understand reality so that when I open my eyes to the reflection of the world around me, that it is pure reflection? The teachings say the attitude we should have is the bodhicitta attitude. The bodhicitta attitude is like a diamond, the sun, and a medicinal tree.
The diamond is like this. Out of a pile of precious stones, rubies, emeralds, diamonds and such, some are worth a lot of money. But if you take a diamond, a diamond amongst all the different jewels, is worth so much more. In that sense, if you were to look through different attitudes, if you wanted to have a jewel like mind that would give the best investment for ones dollar, a mind's attitude which is a little positive, maybe like a sapphire, or maybe a little more dynamic and positive so maybe it is like a ruby, but until you get to diamond like mind, you don't have real quality. It says the diamond is special because even if you have a big chunk of diamond, or only a sliver or chip, it is still diamond and outshines all the other jewels.
Like that, if you have the right attitude, even if you just have an inkling of that attitude, that is more precious than any other attitude that you could have. Because it is diamond like attitude. It is the one which gives you pristine awareness! The reality of the world around in a very beautiful and special way!
It is said the teachings we are going to be involved with are like a nectar, they are like a beautiful ambrosia. Like something which is wonderful. And it is so because it is going to help you look at the world around you and get positive reflection from the world. To know how to see the world and transform it into something beautiful. How precious is that attitude? Amongst jewels, it is like a diamond which is the most precious type of attitude. Like I say, you might have just an attitude which says the world is a good place and I am going to try to do good. That is an alright attitude, but it is not as wonderful as you could do. Maybe you have a little more positive attitude which says anything I want to attain I can accomplish, positive thinking and such which fires you up, again that might be a good attitude and win you a few good points, might help you get your act together. But still, it is not equal to the diamond. If you took a ruby and a diamond, the diamond is much more brilliant beside the ruby. Although the ruby has quality, diamond has better quality. Like that, when we work with ourselves, and specifically when we go into our own mind to try to realize a head space which gives us a very good position regarding our relationship with the world, then why should we go for a second rate attitude?
Take an example of your own life. And look at your attitude. There are some head spaces which are 25%, some 50%, and some are !00%. The right attitude which gives you the best position. What I like about Buddhism is that it is not like we have to think about being goody two shoes. Some wonderful saint that watches the world and can't look at anything dirty! Or has a puritanical or paragon of virtue sort of attitude. Most of the great bodhisattvas are wonderfully sort of earthly people. Some of the greatest Buddhist saints are women bar-maids! There are stories of stuck up monks practicing austere practices who run into bar-maids, or yoginis with divine wisdom who sees the monk in his stuck up attitude. She does something or says something to knock him off his hobby horse and helps him gain realization!
The important thing is to think if I would like to have the right attitude, and it means that you have to sit there with everything pure and nice, white light and goodness, it is not realistic. And also, then how effective would you be in the world around you? Everything would say you have gone strange. The point is, the ideal from the bodhisattvas, is taking the world just as it is, knowing how to work with it on that level. Same thing with yourself. It is not that you have to bend your ego completely out of it's natural shape to feel that you are becoming a spiritual person. It is not that at all. It is just looking at your attitude. And with proper realization, you gain the understanding of how to work with yourself and with the world.
I am not going to talk about the attitude yet. The point is, it is to sort of make you think about it in regards to like how do I look at the world? So when you sit in meditation, you can think about it. I find it interesting that there are all the different subjects which exist around us. Politics, relationships, all these different areas. And sitting there, if you put one of those objects in front of you, then think how do I respond to it? If you have a bad relationship, you can think of what poison starts coming out of you. It is like a bad smell. All of a sudden you become a pulp mill. You start belching forth all this negative attitude. Nastiness. Things like that. Or maybe it has to do with government, relationships. You come forth with negative information or thoughts about how things are. All it is, is you have an object in front of you. And in reflection, when your mind goes out and touches that object, and it comes back, your mind turns negative with it's pollution about that subject.
There is an interesting statement which says, if something is bad, why get angry about it? If something can't be changed, why get angry, because that is just the way it is? If something can be changed, why get angry about it, you have the opportunity to change it. There is no benefit in getting uptight about something! If something cannot be changed, it's fixed, there are no options on that. Death is something you cannot undo once it's happened. So, although there is sadness, why make oneself exaggeratedly upset about it? It is just part of reality! Or, if there is something which can be changed, old bad relationships, relationships with government, some person in your life, whatever, it is flexible so why should you get angry. It doesn't help. It just exaggerates the situation! It is like having a sore on your body. If you take a stick and beat the hell out of it thinking it will make it better, that is pretty silly isn't it? Same thing. If there is something ugly in the world, it does not help to be at it. It does not make it better particularly.
So if there is something ugly in the world, put medicine on the sore, put a positive attitude in regards to the relationship with that thing and may be something good can come out of it. Society is is into this totally. They talk about conflict resolution. If there is conflict, what can we do to resolve it! Dialogue and such!
Your attitude establishes how you experience reality. Regarding that, if we can change or work with our attitude to have a more comfortable realistic happy situation or everlasting happiness situation, it is in our mind that we should work at it. It is not changing the out side world. Within that, looking at our attitude and the other things I spoke of, in regards to that some are alright, but we should try to move ourselves into the most productive of attitudes.
For meditation, the most important thing is to try to put oneself into a position that one's mind is relaxed and comfortable so that one can observe ones reality and possibly the natural nature of the world around us.
Copyright 1994 Daka's Buddhist Consulting
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