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.
Oct 16 1990
The Dalai Lama used a nice analogy. "Why have any interest for a dharma practice? What benefit is it?" You have to ask the question, "What is it that happens for me as an individual? Where am I in any one moment? " What you are or what you have is your experience of that moment. And that is what you have. You do not have anything beyond that. You have y9our memories of the past and the hopes for your future. But all you really have is the immediate moment of conscious experience. And that can include how wealthy you are, your material possessions. Really,l you only have your immediate conscious experience, and that is, you can say, you are truly the possessor of.
If you identify that as the important thing, then you have the key for the full context of a dharma practice because it is the immediate conscious moment where everything can come together where everything is experienced. So it is the place to be aware of. Very often we live in a world of expectation always thinking next week or next year, we are going to be a better meditator, I am going to do a retreat, I am going to do this or that. And we throw our practice to the future. And we say that is when it is going to all happen and right now I am just doing my best.
If we do that we short change ourself because we live within the realm of expectation. That I have expectation that I will become a better person. Or when we do a retreat or something, we have expectations that experiences are going to happen, things are going to do this or that. And when things do not happen blatantly, maybe things are subtle, then we have a sense of being defeated or that things did not work out well, and maybe it was not a success or something. We are constantly projected towards the future and such so we do live in a realm of expectations. Certainly our society fosters a constant sense of never being satisfied with the present moment. Always look to the future. And everything on the radio, and so on, is a carrot that leads you away from the immediate moment of conscious awareness.
So when you bring yourself into asking what you are doing and what the benefit of that is, first you have to identify what you have that is of any importance to yourself. If we look into it, the only thing we really have is the immediate moment of conscious awareness. If we have that properly established, if we live in the immediate moment, then we have a wonderful opportunity for happiness. If we have a sense of satisfaction, we are happy and we look around and experience things. Whereas if we live in a sense of material poverty in the sense of I need this, that, and so on, always desiring for something other than what we have, we have little satisfaction and that we have a terrific sense of poverty in our mind. Our mind is craving for things outside of the moment.
We cannot say that is worthwhile. We do only have the immediate moment and if we think of things we might attain, even when we have them, we loose them quickly. There is nothing fixed in them. So we have only the immediate moment.
Why does the dharma practice make things better for the immediate moment? What does it have to do with a better experience of the immediate moment of conscious awareness? His Holiness points out that dharma practice gives us clarification of what is important to us and what is not of importance to us. Also, when we have suffering, it states where we look to for assistance in dealing with the suffering or problem. His Holiness used the example of going to a hospital. One patient has a mediocre spiritual practice and another person does not. Then, what is the experience of those two people? Well, the one that lives without spirituality is normally concerned about the cost of the hospital, the loss of liberty, loss of things that could be done, concern about possessions and such. How would that person express himself, because they are an expression of the immediate moment of mind's awareness. So what would be is a lot of projections about what is going on. They are not going to be in the moment in the sense of what is happening. They will be extroverted.
And a person with even a small spiritual practice, their life energy is of some concern, but, generally they will not be quite so intensively caught up with their materialism. They will have a little more peace of mind. They say the minimal requirement for a spiritual practitioner is that at least, when they look to their own death, that they have some confidence that they did alright and have a fairly clear conscience. And when they die, they die with a sense of serenity. That is the minimal qualification of a spiritual practice, that one can die with a sense of ease feeling good about who they are. When they go out, they have faith that they will take a reasonable future life because they are an expression of who and what they have been doing. So they will go to a similar lifestyle.
So what benefit is there of spiritual practice? The mind has more peace of mind. The mind is not continually caught up with outside concerns. You can delve into that in your own time by thinking about friends, possessions, and body. Is it worth being very uptight and clinging to those objects, is there benefits to it? Or is it better to be more relaxed and realize that there is always change in everything. In that way we do not put so much emphasis to externality. We have more emphasis to the quality of the person we are in the immediate moment.
Spiritual practice is that. Who are you in any one immediate moment of consciousness? Are you fairly serene? Comfortable? Marginally satisfied with who and what you are in the moment? Do you go beyond your own awareness and having some quality of love and compassion? Some outwardly expression of sensitivity to the world around you so that when someone is in pain you can understand their pain and try to do something?
So take your immediate moment of conscious awareness and question it. What is my immediate moment of conscious awareness? In that way, validate your spiritual practice, and realize it is making my immediate moment, quality time. Quality moment. So I have a few more moments where I am not very uptight about making that extra bit of money, maybe not doing this or that with my materialism that I have around me. Am I more here, listening to what people say to me, saying nice things back to them. And I have the moment to pause and do something nice for someone.
The immediate moment that those things happen in, and they happen because someone has opened up to see them, and that comes because a person has some awareness of dharma or spiritual practice. And isn't so concerned with the things which are outside of that.
In your meditation spend a few moments reviewing yourself. Think, if I was to take my immediate moment of consciousness right now, what is expressing? I have a lot of fears, paranoia, projections, clinging, grasping. Is my mind fairly open? Does it have a nice light about it? Is it happy? Am I at least able to do a little goodness in the world around? If you can say, I am not so bad, you should say, alright, let's make myself more conscious of this immediate moment of conscious awareness. It is like you have a stream of awareness. You have to go into it and become more fully a participant of it.
Dharma is the simplest thing in the world because it is immediate. All it is is saying hey, this is it right now. And to really participate in that is something which is sort of blatant in many ways. It does not require anything profound.
In your meditation process, to drop the outer sense stimulations, what comes to your eyes, ears, nose tongue and body, and to try to focus on just the clarity of mind, the peace of mind. And by focusing on that more, and you can do that by awareness of breathing, then you develop your inner strength and you are not so extroverted, looking at signs, hearing sounds, smelling things, tasting things, trying to experience things physically, alright?
The meditation is simplistic but I think spirituality in many ways is. It is to be conscious of your immediate moment of awareness. Question yourself, I am spending time and energy on this, is it worthwhile? Check it out for yourself. Then move into just being in the here and now, and enjoying it, trying to develop a fuller sense of participation in the immediate moment of awareness.
Copyright 1994 Daka's Buddhist Consulting
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