The Three Principle Aspects of the Path (Hong Kong, 2013) …by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche
Student C: I have taken the bodhisattva vow. If my family, family member carries on a business in buying and selling alcohol and it is very hard for myself not to do anything, to distance myself from it. What should I do to balance the conflict between the vow that I have taken and the karma that I will have to face?
The second question: can lay Buddhists; can lay Buddhist practitioners preach Buddhism, for example by holding a public lecture? If the person is not yet enlightened and have something wrong and direct people to do the wrong direction, would he or she face any karmic consequences? How do we choose between practising by ourselves and spreading the dharma to others?
Rinpoche: As far as teaching is concerned, there‟s really no difference between ordained or lay. Even in the historical, you know figures, there are probably more lay teachers than ordained. Ultimately there‟s only one perfect teacher, and that is the enlightened being. Not even the tenth bhumi bodhisattvas are supposedly perfect. But because not everyone is equipped with such kind of merit, situation and so forth, it is also good to receive teachings from those who wish well, those who have kindness and specially bodhicitta.
A teacher must teach, a Buddhist teacher must teach a person to one way or another, to enlighten this person; NOT EVEN to convince a person, not even with that reason, he or she should teach – convincing the person to accept your view, so to speak. And we will talk about motivation this afternoon, so we‟ll have a lunch break now.
Okay, so now I‟m going through the text, kind of from the beginning. Homage to all the venerable Buddhas, I mean venerable gurus; so as it is in the tradition, always paying homage to the embodying of all the Buddhas, which is the guru. Concept of the guru is very complicated. Guru always gets misunderstood as master. I don‟t know whether master is guru. We don‟t know yet. I don‟t think so, most probably not. Because I don‟t know, sometimes the master seems to have a connotation of learned one. So it has this, it comes within the context of sort of education, accomplished being, kind of, you know from the more like education point of view. Guru is not necessarily like that.
As I said, guru is quite, it‟s a very complex, eh, it‟s very complex; but I think this might help. Guru is not limited as the master but guru is the path also. Guru is everything. Guru is the breeze, breeze; the colour of this grape, the spaciousness of this room. But again as I speak like this, there is a danger to categorize guru as everything, which is like very abstract. So in this way, guru is also personalized.
So anyway in the Mahayana and especially in the Vajrayana tradition, guru is probably one THE most important method. You know we were talking about wisdom and the method; method, probably the supreme-most method – so before we begin, homage to the guru. And when we say homage, we‟re not just talking about bowing
down but basically some sense of surrender. It‟s not mere respect but it‟s a total surrender. We do this surrender because we are aware of the downfall of ego, ego-clinging; so therefore total surrender to the guru.
(Tibetan phrase) – The essence of all the Buddhas‟ teaching, path that is venerated by all the bodhisattvas; path or the entrance to the path for those who are seeking the liberation. Which excludes, you know which basically if you‟re saying you are not interested in the liberation, this text is useless. You need to; you need to want the liberation, liberation from this delusion. Only and only with this kind of desire or longing for liberation, for those who have this kind of liberation, eh, those who long this kind of liberation, for them – this is an entrance to the path. And I, Tsongkhapa, here he‟s saying, I, Tsongkhapa, I shall try to present as much as I can. And here Tsongkhapa, you know, is exuding, demonstrating the great quality of the bodhisattva, which is the humility.
(Tibetan phrase) – For those who are already in this existence, in this samsara, but basically for those who are already existing or those who are dwelling in samsara, but for those who are, who has seen the true colour of this samsara, who has, who has had a glimpse of sort of un-repairable fault of this samsara. This line does not deny that there is no fun. Basically this does not, this is not denying in samsara there are actually some, you know, seemingly you know, pleasurable, I don‟t know eh, desirable situation but fundamentally this is all on the surface. You know on the surface, there‟s something desirable, I don‟t know something that is something that we feel, we like sort of, we cherish. But fundamentally there is incurable, incurable fault or a symptom, and therefore even though you see on the surface, you know deep down there‟s something has gone wrong. So for those, for those who have that kind of knowledge; he‟s, he‟s basically talking about to whom this is presented, so that‟s one type of person.
The other type is some of, some of, some of this people who have seen, who can see the potential of this human life. The potential of this human, human, human body, human life is just so powerful. It is incredible, what do you call it? – Powerful. Not merely, you know like animals; you know animals, they can‟t really plan for the next dinner but we can. But that‟s not just, that‟s, that‟s nothing. And not, not, not even the ability to, the human, human ability to, you know like raise family, lead thousands of people, manage big company, finish degrees, negotiate seemingly un-negotiable situations – even these, all of these, still we may be not even using one percent of the human potential.
So some of, some people, seeing this amazing potential of human body and really wanting to make most out of it, not waste it – for them, for this kind of people also this small booklet is presented – so here Tsongkhapa says, yeah. And also, there are other type of people also, those who eh, how should I put it (Tibetan phrase)? – Eh, those who have the wit to choose the right model. Many of us, we always have a model; we always have a reference, a benchmark. We want to look like so and so; we want to act like so and so. We want to talk like so and so; we want to be, I don‟t know, as powerful as so and so. You know we always have that kind of reference. That‟s what human beings do. We always refer to something.
And from people like Tsongkhapa or Atisha Dipamkara‟s point of view, our benchmark and our model are very mediocre. Like I want to be as rich as Bill Gates, I want to be as creative as Steve Jobs. You know for Tsongkhapa or Atisha Dipamkara – okay, why not? You know like well, if you say so; it‟s not, it‟s not that a big deal. I want to be as beautiful as one of those anorex, anorexic models. So those who have the wit to choose the right model, right example, right reference, right benchmark, are those who aspire and those who get fascinated by; okay those who get so fascinated by words like, I mean the concepts such as compassion. And so much so that they would do ANYTHING, even the most, almost like a childish thing they would do in order to hear the word „compassion‟.
Gaga, I don‟t know – you listen this again and again and again. And you line up for Lady Gaga in the day, in the rain, in the shine, I don‟t know. It‟s believed that when Shakyamuni Buddha was a bodhisattva in the past, in order to hear the word of compassion, stood on one foot in front of the Lord Dipankara, this is the Buddha Dipankara, not Atisha Dipamkara, okay; stood on one foot and placing a, a lamp, butter lamp over his head for seven days and nights – just to hear the word „compassion‟. To illuminate the room of his master, Dipankara; he put; you know the light has to be higher raised. So he, the highest sort of spot was his head so he put the lamp over his head, seven days and nights.
So see this, for that bodhisattva, his benchmark, his reference, his value was different. The sound of the word such as „compassion‟ is what makes him happy. Anyway therefore this teaching is also for those who get fascinated and inspired by events such as what, what Buddha did in his past life. And this kind of people is what he calls, what Tsongkhapa calls fortunate one. To summarize, okay those people who are, who have seen the incurable, un-repairable but you know, seemingly kind of nice and you know like eh, nice situation but you know underneath something is gone wrong. That‟s a fortunate one.
The other one is someone who has seen the potential, human potential SO MUCH, and realizing that we are not using even one percent and mean we are wasting time – fortunate one. And someone who gets fascinated by different kinds of benchmark like the word of „compassion‟. These are fortunate ones and these fortunate ones, Lama Tsongkhapa says (Tibetan phrase) – come here, listen without any judgement and open mind; with open-minded, without any judgement – listen.
(Tibetan phrase) Okay, this is actually the first principle. He‟s, he‟s saying – first, and most importantly we must look for, search for renunciation mind. And here you will notice renunciation; the meaning of renunciation is SO nicely explained. Contrary, contrary to many people‟s belief, renunciation is not a practice of ascetism; like penance, it‟s not a practice of penance. It‟s not really, you know like giving up responsibilities. It‟s not really, you know eh, surrendering to a severe kind of moralistic practice.
Maybe I‟m unnecessarily making it complicated but I‟ll try. Maybe I‟m making, making it a little complicated unnecessarily, but to appreciate the way the teachings are presented, I‟ll, I‟ll kind of follow some of this, the way it is expressed. You know it‟s a bit like this; like nirvana or enlightenment in Buddhism is un-long able, un-longing, how do you put it in English? Mm, un-longing, not possible to long basically; you cannot, it is not longing, longing-able (laughter), yeah longing-able; yeah, you cannot long. Yes, nirvana is not longing-able (laughter).
But the problem with us is we long for samsara. That‟s why at times we have to divert your attention from longing the samsara and say you should long for nirvana even though it is un-longing-able. Because remember this morning we say, again here samsara and nirvana – MAGIC. It is a magical – very samsara is the very nirvana. You cannot get rid of samsara and try to find nirvana. You cannot get rid of water and try to find moisture. Okay so (Tibetan phrase) therefore you need to really mm, look at this unreasonable, unreasonable obsessive longing to the samsara. Because if you do long for this samsara, this obsessive longing of samsara will overshadow your, overshadow, defile your view.
So that‟s why as many great masters of the past said – no one wants to suffer, but no one wants to get rid of samsara. But if you don‟t get rid of the samsara; get rid is just for the sake of communication; if you don‟t sort of do something with samsara, if you‟re, you‟re still attached to samsara – suffering continues and that‟s something you don‟t want. So basically you know, you are not making sense. You‟re, you are loving the cause of the suffering and you‟re hating the suffering; so it‟s a bit like contradictory. So this craving for the samsara binds you in this suffering.
Therefore, first and most importantly, invoke renunciation mind; and how do we do that? Here he explains briefly. (Tibetan phrase) Think of this precious human body, this precious human life, this amazing ability that we have, this amazing ability to mm, how should I put it? (Pause) I‟ve already told you about animals, right. Animals have really almost; they, they have their own ability but you know they can‟t really eh, (pause) compare to us. But let‟s use the reference god, gods, goddesses, gods, heavenly beings. From the spiritual point of view, even the gods don‟t have, don‟t have the human ability because many, many reasons why the gods are, the human, human beings, the human body is just BY FAR more able than gods.
See this is very interesting. Actually the gods, many of these gods; they even have some sort of clairvoyance so they should actually have the ability much more than us. We don‟t have, most of us, we don‟t have clairvoyance. But the main reason, one of the main reasons – many, many other reasons, huh – one of them is human condition is totally uncertain. That‟s what makes human life, human body so ABLE; so, so, the ability so much whereas gods‟ life is kind of certain; so certainty makes them weak. They don‟t think much, they don‟t need to think; everything is scheduled, everything is taken care of, so to speak.
Just if you think of, if you think of what we have and how we have managed to deal with our partner‟s mood swings, for instance, just THAT alone if you put it all together, this ALONE will show you how we are so good at it, so much ability. And how we forget things you know; forgetfulness is such a precious thing, you know because it‟s, you know it. A lot of the grudges you don‟t have because you have forgetfulness. So anyway, human potential is something that we need to contemplate. These are all how to, how to generate the renunciation mind.
If you can think about these things, then you realize our human body, human life is bit like you know, mileage points with an expiry date, you understand. You better use it soon otherwise you know it‟s a waste. You can‟t even transfer it to someone else. So that‟s one, one, one way of generating the renunciation mind.
Then, uncertainty of life: we don‟t know what‟s next. Even between you and me, we don‟t know all these lovey-dovey situations can go overnight. You don‟t know my secrets; I don‟t know your secrets. I‟m never going to tell you my real secrets (laughter) and I don‟t want to hear your secrets. This, this distance is very comfortable. Some are getting a little bit closer than necessary. The first thing you begin to notice is smell (laughter) and occasionally, it can be you know, kind of uplifting and even erotic, but overdose with all those kind of things could also spoil your life.
And, yeah, and our values – what we like and what we don‟t like – changes; our principles, our, all of these changeable; and then eh, most painful fact is you know, we, we all have to just die. And even more painful is, you don‟t know; even more painful than the fact that we are all going to die is that we don‟t know WHEN we‟re going to die. Now thinking these things will then make you (Tibetan phrase) – this is kind of beautiful word, how to translate? It‟s like; there‟s a Tibetan word called „jur bu thon par‟. „Jur bu thon par‟ means one that sees this side, one that sees ONLY this side. That‟s, that‟s, that‟s the term „only‟. One sees, one that sees only this side.
So by, by getting accustomed to, you know like precious human body and impermanence, what it does is it suddenly begins to not only see this side, then you begin to see other side. And that‟s beginning to, you know your vision, your view – when, when it‟s normal limited to only this side, this life – then you have renunciation mind. So that‟s why you will see people with begging bowl and you know, very ascetic looking and very renounced looking but they‟re only looking at this side still. They are not necessarily renounced person. Anyway we have been told to drink lots of water which causes lots of results, so let‟s have a break.
Question: Rinpoche, in the news, we can often see some unjust things, which bring us anger, emotional turmoil, and yet we don‟t know what to do about it. Can Rinpoche please suggest how to handle these situations? When common folks like us face these unjust, unfair social matters – what to do?
Rinpoche: What, what, what? (Laughter)
Question: There are, there are many news eh, about social unjust, un-justice, unfair things in the society.
Rinpoche: Mm, most practical thing, most doable thing is aspiration, I think. Beyond that, we‟re just not capable and by doing meagre things may not be also helpful. You know, of course, I totally understand all these social injustice like rape case, recent rape case in India. These are just unbearable; of course if one can do something, one must. But to really wipe out all these problems, suffering – right now, the best thing we can do is aspiration; prayers basically.
The biggest tragedy, the biggest tragic, actually it‟s just not that. From the Buddhist point of view, there‟s a REALLY a big tragic that‟s happening all the time. The fact that all beings like you and me, and especially those who are walking outside here, you know sentient beings – even though they‟re adorned with Buddha-nature, you know wherever they go, Buddha-nature goes, they just miss it all the time. And that is the BIGGEST TRAGEDY. It is so near, you know. It‟s just so close. Its right in front, it‟s even closer than in front of you, but every, most of us – we miss it and that is the biggest tragedy.
And even for that, aspiration is one thing we can do. And actually, never one should undermine the power of aspiration. It is actually THE most powerful, single most powerful, I would say.
Question: Rinpoche – doesn‟t Buddhist disciplines teach us to do the right thing, and how should we contemplate impermanence in accordance with the text?
Rinpoche: Yes, the Buddhist tells us to do the right thing and, but it‟s never abandoned by the wisdom, which we will be actually explaining; you know the rest of the text is about that. But anyway, the person who‟s asking this question is not coming back; I would say, in a nutshell – yes do the right thing, but at the end, you know eventually, ultimately, you can never do the right thing until you embrace that „magic‟, that we talked this morning. You cannot.
If you lose that magic of non-duality of wisdom and method, the truth and non-truth, illusion and reality, you know, the inseparability of illusion and reality; if you lose that, mere practice of doing the right thing will just become a burden. It actually becomes a BIG problem, a moral problem. It becomes really; when the morality becomes the cause of a problem, it becomes such a biggest problem. I mean can‟t you see, almost eighty percent of the world‟s problems is a religious problem? – This is the RIGHT thing to do. This is the ONLY way to do.
Question: Rinpoche – in the case of extramarital affair, how can one transform oneself to see this as an illusion?
Rinpoche: Until you are caught (laughter and applause). And then another illusion begins (laughter), okay.
Question: Rinpoche, in daily life, our mind has many thoughts; even worse, bad memories, confusion, emotions, unrealistic imagination, and the future is full of uncertainty. How can we settle our mind or heart without trapped by these?
Rinpoche: Okay, mmm, this is coming from a sutra but I‟m going to abbreviate, huh. You know potters, when they make pots, they have this spinning wheel. And once you start this wheel, then that particular spinning, a bit kind of; okay maybe it‟s a bit too late, you know when once it is beginning to shape the pot. But what you can do is you can already plan the next spinning. What kind of shape of pot you are going to create?
Eh, what I‟m saying is whilst beings like us, those who are not on the highest bhumi, the highest stages of the bodhisattva level – we are bound by our karma, karmic wind, karmic debt, karmic link; so in a way we have almost no choice. I say “almost‟ but we can already CREATE OR NOT CREATE for the future generation of the karma. This is the best thing we could do – One more (question).
Question: I wish I can follow my guru to do to do retreat practice. However due to lack of cause and condition, I‟m still not able to do so. Can Rinpoche advise what can I do to get the cause and condition to make the above come true? He, he wishes for your blessing too.
Rinpoche: I think any kind of practice, you can dedicate towards that wish. Okay I think we will continue with the text.
(Tibetan phrase) Okay, so we talk about renunciation mind and one is like by remembering precious human body and impermanence and through that you, you begin to see the futility of this side of life. And then we should, we contemplate on the laws, laws of cause and condition. Cause and condition, when they‟re gathered and when they‟re not interfered by obstacles, result is guaranteed. You cannot avoid result. That may be not the ultimate fact but it is the relative fact. You cannot alter it. It‟s actually kind of related to one of the questions that earlier asked.
If you plant marigold, if there’s all the necessary conditions such as, I don‟t know, fertilizer, you know fencing, enough water, space, sunshine – IF and if there is no obstacle – even if you wish the marigold will not blossom, it will blossom. It will, it will grow, it will come and it will blossom. Just like that, whatever we do or we think, even a moment of thought has consequences or it gives birth to a certain situation.
When that wind of cause and condition blows and when there is no interference, as we have all experienced, things come, things arise, we experience things, and we cannot avoid it. We cannot escape from it. And we, you and I are very much controlled by cause and condition – all of us and every aspect of us.
Our, our physical circumstance obviously – you cannot rest assured by going to a whole body check-up today and find nothing. And you cannot rest assured – you should have another one tomorrow, actually every six hours. We never know within this short time. We, we don‟t know what has shifted, what we have accumulated. This MUCH we know even though we try to deny, this much we know; and this is due to cause and condition. And many of the cause and condition is not visible, it‟s not perceivable.
And our mental, our mental state – of course, it‟s so much under the influence of cause and condition. Basically we, we have no control; cause and condition has control. Thinking this, contemplate on this game of the law or manifestation of the karma, again, again and again. By contemplating on this, it will then make you have; it‟ll, it will then, you know, you know earlier we were talking about having a certain narrow outlook towards this life, this side; but by contemplating on the karma, you‟ll also have a greater view or a greater outlook towards next life – beyond this life, beyond, beyond this, you know this side. Then suddenly you may even plan much more than next life.
To be continued….
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