C T

Seeing, Recognising & Maintaining One's Enlightening Potential

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"Dzogchen practitioners must combine their meditation on emptiness with compassion. Emptiness means egolessness. This means freedom from selfishness and all clinging. Compassion means caring for all sentient beings, and helping them find total peace and happiness. Practicing on emptiness alone will not help you reach enlightenment. There is a non-Buddhist meditation school in India that teaches that the realization of emptiness comes from completely blocking all sensory experiences. Even if this practice leads to emptiness- realization, if you have trained yourself in blocking the senses how can you practice compassion? It is not our intention to promote Buddhism and de-value other schools. We just want to remind you that the true nature of the mind is the unity of emptiness and compassion.

 

The Dzogchen teachings always talk about emptiness and clarity. Emptiness refers to the utter openness of the nature of the mind, while clarity refers to the rich and beautiful qualities inherent in the nature of the mind. Compassion is one of these qualities. If we accept emptiness and reject compassion, we’re knocking our heads against a wall. Therefore, don’t be partial—be open to the fullness of the teachings and the fullness of yourself. All the great teachers said this. We must practice the unity of emptiness and compassion, wisdom and skillful means, absolute truth and relative truth. When we do this, realization comes beautifully and perfectly.

 

Buddha Shakyamuni gave an important teaching called the King of Posala Sutra. Posala was an ancient city that is now called Shravasti; in Tibetan, it’s called Sharja. This is where the Buddha taught the Diamond Sutra. Addressing the king of Posala, the Buddha said, “Oh great king, you perform many activities, and do not have much time for spiritual pursuits, but if you keep one thing in your heart, you are practicing the Dharma—that is bodhichitta.” Bodhichitta is the core of the Buddha’s teachings, and the core of Guru Padmasambhava’s teachings. It is the essential teaching of all the great masters who followed them."

 

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Pointing Out the Nature of Mind (p 149/150)

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Question: What is the relationship between Dzogchen and bodhichitta?

 

Khenpo Rinpoches: "The Dzogchen teachings are the highest teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni. From the Dzogchen point of view, everything is totally equal in one profound state, without duality and distinctions. Dzogchen is the ultimate view of the true nature of mind, which includes love and compassion. When we practice Dzogchen we develop compassion and loving-kindness; Dzogchen practice cannot be separated from bodhichitta practice. We cannot ignore relative bodhichitta and accept absolute bodhichitta; both are part of our true nature and both are part of Dzogchen.

 

For this reason, before we meditate, we take refuge and develop the thought of bodhichitta. After we meditate we dedicate the merit to all sentient beings. Whenever we practice or do any kind of beneficial activity, we should not cling to it. At the absolute level, everything is totally pure and perfect in great emptiness. From that point of view, we are completely free from all dualistic concepts and clinging.

 

Until we come to realize the emptiness nature, we continue to follow our thoughts, judging things to be good or bad, better or worse, dirty or clean. Even while we are following our thoughts, the ultimate reality does not change. It is similar to the weather. When you see a cloudy, gray sky, you cannot see the sun, but that does not mean that the sun and the blue sky are not there. They are still there; the moving clouds do not affect them.

 

... Every person has the enlightened nature, but to actualize that nature it is necessary to practice bodhichitta, the love and compassion for all beings. Bodhichitta is universally precious; everybody appreciates it and everybody has the potential to develop it. Enlightenment is completely dependent upon developing compassion for all beings. The wish to attain enlightenment for the benefit of others is the essence of both the Mahayana and Vajrayana paths. When we develop inner wisdom, we can take care of all sentient beings, and radiate compassion and kindness throughout the universe. We can discover the true nature of the mind and of the entire world. In order to be able to do this, meditation practice is very important.

 

Bodhichitta is the root or the seed from which enlightenment develops. Bodhichitta is not found externally, but it is within your own mind. Although all of us have experienced love and compassion, these qualities need to be developed further. One way to increase them is to do the Dzogchen meditation of resting the mind in its own nature. This is because bodhichitta and emptiness have the same nature, the true nature of the mind. Practicing bodhichitta openly and freely will increase your understanding of emptiness because compassion and emptiness are inseparable aspects of the primordial state of being."

 

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Buddhist Path

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Training in Meditation to See, Recognise, Maintain & Increase One's Enlightening Potential

 

MEDITATION: Abandoning the strangle hold of suffering and worry.

 

This was written by the late Karma Tashi Thundrup. It is a highly effective meditational technique which helps to restore the natural balance of the mind and body.

 

We shall begin by creating a quiet place to sit, cross-legged if we can or on a low stool or straight-backed chair if we cannot. A firm cushion will help to provide a comfortable and stable seat. We sit completely relaxed with our back and neck straight, the spine balanced nicely on the pelvis. A straight back is necessary for the unobstructed passage of spinal energies when they arise.

 

The hands can be placed on the lap, palms upward, the right hand resting in the left and the tips of the thumbs touching. We can meditate with our eyes shut or open, but outer distractions are more easily avoided with the eyes closed. The eyeballs should be perfectly relaxed as in sleep, just gazing, to the mind's eye down the length of the nose.

 

Some teachers insist that one should focus the closed eyes sharply upon the point between the eyebrows where the Ajna chakra manifests but I should warn against this. The muscular strain of such a procedure creates the nervous illusion of flashing lights before the eyes which can easily lead one into a fantasy of meditational success. If you wish to put this sort of thing to the test, sit quietly in a darkened room, close your eyes and watch the fireworks as you push your eyeballs back and forth with your fingers.

 

In sitting meditation, we aim at a profound relaxation, any internal tension will defeat the object of the exercise. All we have to do is to watch our breath. Breathing through the nose we calmly concentrate upon our breathing and just watch the breath moving to and fro.

 

As our concentration deepens we will find our mind, in a manner of speaking becoming one with our breathing.
Our concentration must be absolutely calm and without effort. Absorption is the best word I can find to describe the required state of mind.

 

Thoughts will constantly arise to distract the attention. We do not try to block them off or shut them out in any way, but we observe them dispassionately from over our shoulder as it were, leading the mind, on a loose rein, gently back to the breath each time.

 

That is all we have to do.

 

There is no need here for a lengthy dissertation on the manifold subjective results of our meditations for that would arouse a vicarious anticipation of events which is most undesirable. Suffice to say that gradually our awareness of being will become more detached from our thoughts.

 

During our sitting sessions the grasping egotistical nature of our thoughts will become clearer to us, irrespective of whether these thoughts be considered good or bad. As our consciousness becomes finely tuned to the movement of the breath we shall in time develop an awareness of the currents of Pran Energy within the body. This meditation is natural Pranayama (the Way of Pran).

 

If the simple Buddhist practice of watching the breath is persevered with, we will discover that as our concentration deepens and thoughts fall away, the breath will quieten and slow down quite spontaneously. Then we should begin to experience a true meditative state of mind.

 

If at this stage we should begin to congratulate ourselves our meditation will simply go for a diffuse. We shall be exchanging Unconditioned Being for the delusion of achievement. Beware of the "How am I doing?" syndrome. It is a monstrous stumbling block on the path of meditation.

 

Our approach to meditation is as important as the meditation itself. One Tibetan teacher has this to say: "Do not be consistent".

 

There are many Eastern Gurus who encourage their devotees to rise at 6 a.m. every day to do an hour's sitting before breakfast and another obligatory hour before retiring every night. For some of these teachers these obligatory hours are not enough and disciples are urged to spend more and more hours in sitting meditation. We are human beings however and not limpets. If we insist upon sitting cross-legged and cross-eyed for hours at a stretch we need have no surprise to find ourselves being used as a doorstop by one of our more active brethren.

 

Routines can easily condition and enslave us. We practice meditation to restore a quota of spontaneous being into our lives. Rigid routine in meditation is hardly the path to spontaneity. We should meditate when we feel like it. That is all.

 

All kinds of internal happenings arise during sitting meditation of a paranormal or astral nature. It is your own psyche unfolding. Do not talk about them or you will inevitably become confused. We can become attached to these events, the side effects, so to speak, of meditation and tend to evaluate these events as good, bad or indifferent according to our expectations.

 

The Yogin who has realised his goal, however, places no great value upon these events which he recognises as mere projections of his own mind. Therefore we should not leave our sitting reflecting upon how good or bad it was, for the man of meditative power has long gone beyond ideas of good or bad. By the same token we shall not approach our sitting with great anticipation or apprehension. I shall not pontificate further about this for there are no words adequate enough for what I am trying to convey.

 

To summarise our meditation practice:

 

A comfortable seat, a straight back, hands on lap, palms up, tips of thumbs touching. Eyes closed and relaxed, "gazing down the nose". Breathe through the nose.

 

Watch the breath.

 

Calmly concentrate, the reins held loose.

 

When thoughts arise do not resist them or block them off. Witness them from "over your shoulder",
and gently lead the attention back to the breath.

 

When you have done enough, rise calmly and slowly and go about your business. There you have it, a simple and very effective meditation technique.

 

A few words of warning which, like Government anti-tobacco warnings should be, by law, printed on the spine of every book about Meditation:

 

WARNING
MEDITATION IS NOT A BIG DEAL
BIG DEALS CAN LEAD TO MENTAL ILLNESS AND SPIRITUAL DEATH

 

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The use of the word Mind is so tempting and yet so very problematic. I find the word Awareness to be typically a much better translator of the ideas brought forth above.

 

It's use in the west fairly secures almost complete misunderstanding.

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The use of the word Mind is so tempting and yet so very problematic. I find the word Awareness to be typically a much better translator of the ideas brought forth above. It's use in the west fairly secures almost complete misunderstanding.

Yep, i agree, Spotless - but certainly some who are familiar with Buddhist theory & practice will have learnt to distinguish between mind, Mind, awareness & consciousness, as these terms will all have been given a somewhat more thorough examination at some point during the practitioner's contemplative excursions down the Buddhist path.

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I'm finding that compassion is a very difficult quality for me to develop personally. The use of the mani mantra in both formal meditation, and throughout my day has helped a great deal. I feel that part of me is softening somewhat. I know there's a long way to go, but with the right intent and daily practice, I can change myself.

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I'm finding that compassion is a very difficult quality for me to develop personally. The use of the mani mantra in both formal meditation, and throughout my day has helped a great deal. I feel that part of me is softening somewhat. I know there's a long way to go, but with the right intent and daily practice, I can change myself.

You are not alone. Even the Dalai Lama finds it challenging at times :)

 

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That's comforting to know CT. Sometimes I feel VERY alone, even in the midst of family and friends.

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That's comforting to know CT. Sometimes I feel VERY alone, even in the midst of family and friends.

"The times when you are suffering can be those when you are open, and where you are extremely vulnerable can be where your greatest strength really lies.

 

Say to yourself: “I am not going to run away from this suffering. I want to use it in the best and richest way I can, so that I can become more compassionate and more helpful to others.” Suffering, after all, can teach us about compassion. If you suffer, you will know how it is when others suffer. And if you are in a position to help others, it is through your suffering that you will find the understanding and compassion to do so.
Sometimes we think that to develop an open heart, to be truly loving and compassionate, means that we need to be passive, to allow others to abuse us, to smile and let anyone do what they want with us. Yet this is not what is meant by compassion. Quite the contrary. Compassion is not at all weak. It is the strength that arises out of seeing the true nature of suffering in the world. Compassion allows us to bear witness to that suffering, whether it is in ourselves or others, without fear; it allows us to name injustice without hesitation, and to act strongly, with all the skill at our disposal. To develop this mind state of compassion...is to learn to live, as the Buddha put it, with empathy for all living beings, without exception."

-- Sharon Salzberg

 

 

Try as best you can to infuse and inspire your daily practice with a sense of lightness and humour. I know it can be difficult at times, but even the most seasoned practitioner will experience some form of negativity now and again. It will be helpful to heighten our mindfulness of response during these rough patches, remembering that each time we encounter an especially difficult phase, that those moments are actually the crest of our karmic past coming to a head, and that it is like finally arriving at a junction - at this point, where we turn, how we transform and grow, or not, this will rest entirely on our fundamental View and how we have maintained/practiced that View primarily while we are making our way towards each culmination of past actions. The Mani mantra is always a dependable friend at each crossroad we come upon.

Edited by C T
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The famous Tibetan practitioner Milarepa wrote an amazingly 'simple' summary of the six perfections:

For generosity, nothing to do,

Other than stop fixating on self.

 

For morality, nothing to do,

Other than stop being dishonest.

 

For patience, nothing to do,

Other than not fear what is ultimately true.

 

For effort, nothing to do,

Other than practise continuously.

 

For meditative stability, nothing to do,

Other than rest in presence.

 

For wisdom, nothing to do,

Other than know directly how things are.

Edited by C T
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Thank you CT for your posts. They are awesome.

You are awesome, Bubbles. _/º\_

 

:)

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You are awesome, Bubbles. _/º\_

 

:)

 

Thank you CT, but I can't take your words in. I am just a crooked frog.

 

To me you are among the best members of TTB.

 

Your above posts are most needed in the boards. It is not just their content but also the perfume that wraps them.

 

_/°\_

 

:)

 

edited the 2nd sentence for clarity

Edited by bubbles
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Thank you CT, but I can't take your words in. I am just a crooked frog.

 

To me you are among the best members of TTB.

 

Your above posts are most needed in the boards. It is not just their content but also the perfume that wraps them.

 

_/°\_

 

:)

 

edited the 2nd sentence for clarity

You're too kind and generous, Bubbles. I am not even at that crooked frog level yet, you know? Still striving slowly but with some determination to find what most others here are also seeking, each in their own special way. :)

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An old, but meaningful, Christmas message from the late Lama Yeshe

(courtesy of Ms. L. Lestari - thank you so much for sharing)

 

"Some of you might think, "Oh, I want to have nothing to do with Jesus, nothing to do with the Bible." This is a very angry, emotional attitude to have towards Christianity. If you really understood, you would recognise that what Jesus taught was, "Love!" It is as simple and as profound as that. If you had true love within you, I am sure you would feel much more peaceful than you do now."

 

These teachings came from Silent Mind, Holy Mind, a collection of talks given by Lama Yeshe at Kopan Monastery at the end of one of the month-long Kopan Meditation Courses. Western students had gathered on Christmas Eve, feeling a little out of place and unsure of what to do with their feelings of "missing out on Christmas". Lama, sensing their confused feelings, had them gather in the meditation hall where he gave these talks about Christmas and Buddhist practice.

 

When we see each other again on Christmas Eve for the celebration of Holy Jesus' birth, let us do so in peace and with a good vibration and a happy mind. I think it would be wonderful. To attend the celebration with an angry disposition would be so sad. Come instead with a beautiful motivation and much love. Have no discrimination, but see everything as a golden flower, even your worst enemy. Then Christmas, which so often produces an agitated mind, will become so beautiful.

 

When you change your mental attitude, the external vision also changes. This is a true turning of the mind. There is no doubt about this. I am not special, but I have had experience of doing this, and it works. You people are so intelligent, so you can understand how the mind has this ability to change itself and its environment. There is no reason why this change cannot be for the better.

 

Some of you might think, "Oh, I want to have nothing to do with Jesus, nothing to do with the Bible." This is a very angry, emotional attitude to have towards Christianity. If you really understood, you would recognise that what Jesus taught was, "Love!" It is as simple and as profound as that. If you had true love within you, I am sure you would feel much more peaceful than you do now.

 

How do you normally think of love? Be honest. It is always involved with discriminations, isn't it? Just look around this room and see if anyone here is an object of your love. Why do you discriminate so sharply between friend and enemy? Why do you see such a big difference between yourself and others?

 

In the Buddhist teaching, this falsely discriminating attitude is called dualism. Jesus said that such an attitude is the opposite of true love. Therefore, is there any one of us who has the pure love that Jesus was talking about? If we do not, we should not criticise his teachings or feel they are irrelevant to us. We are the ones who have misunderstood, perhaps knowing the words of his teachings, but never acting upon them.

There are so many beautiful sentences in the Bible, but I do not recall reading that Jesus ever said that without your doing anything whatsoever—without preparing yourself in some way—the Holy Spirit would descend upon you, whoosh! If you do not act the way He said you should act, there is no Holy Spirit existent anywhere for you.

 

What I have read in the Bible has the same connotation as the Buddhist teachings on equilibrium, compassion and changing one's ego-attachment into love for others. It may not be immediately obvious how to train your mind to develop these attitudes, but it is certainly possible to do so. Only our selfishness and closed-mindedness prevent us.

 

With true realisations, the mind is no longer egotistically concerned with its own salvation. With true love, one no longer behaves dualistically; feeling very attached to some people, distant from others and totally indifferent to the rest. It is so simple. In the ordinary personality, the mind is always divided against itself, always fighting and disturbing its own peace.

 

The teachings on love are very practical. Do not put religion somewhere up in the sky and feel you are stuck down here on earth. If the actions of body, speech and mind are in accordance with loving kindness, you automatically become a truly religious person. To be religious does not mean that you attend certain teachings. If you listen to teachings and misinterpret them, you are in fact, the opposite of religious. And it is only because you do not understand a certain teaching that you abuse religion.

Lack of deep understanding leads to partisanship. The ego feels, "I am a Buddhist, therefore Christianity must be all wrong." This is very harmful to true religious feeling. You do not destroy a religion with bombs, but with hatred. More importantly, you destroy the peacefulness of your own mind. It does not matter if you express your hatred with words or not. The mere thoughts of hatred automatically destroys your peace.

 

Similarly, true love does not depend on physical expression. You should realise this. True love is a feeling deep within you. It is not just a matter of wearing a smile on your face and looking happy. Rather, it arises from a heartfelt understanding of every other being's suffering and radiates out to them indiscriminately. It does not favour a chosen few to the exclusion of everyone else.

 

Furthermore, if someone hits you and you react with anger or great alarm, crying, "What has happened to me?" this also has nothing to do with a mind knowing the meaning of true love. It is just the ignorant preoccupation of the ego with its own welfare. How much wiser it is to realise, "Being hit does not really harm me. My delusion of hatred is an enemy that harms me much more than this." Reflecting like this allows true love to grow.

Edited by C T
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From The Buddhist Path, by Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal & Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoches.

 

"Taming the mind does not mean eliminating outer objects or suppressing inner thoughts. It means revealing and maintaining the natural state of the mind. Taming the mind has nothing to do with cultivating certain thoughts; it is simply keeping the mind in its fundamental state, where its clarity and wisdom are revealed. The true nature of the mind is calm and clear and full of compassion and love and wisdom.

 

We do not always experience the mind in this way because ignorance obscures our awareness of the mind’s true nature. However, the wisdom nature is always there, and it can shine through and guide us in our lives. Even foolish people have wisdom and can exhibit beautiful qualities because this basic goodness is found equally in all beings. Not only human beings, but all sentient beings have the same nature and potential for enlightenment. The problem is that temporary obscurations cover and distort the essential nature of the mind. When we completely remove the ignorance and reveal the mind’s true nature, we are enlightened.

 

It is important to remember that our true nature is only temporarily hidden. When we know that, we can work with courage and joy to remove the ignorance and let the essence of the mind shine forth. It is important for our diligence to be based on a joyful attitude, because without joyful effort we cannot reveal this true nature.

 

We need to exert ourselves now because this opportunity will not last forever. We must remember impermanence and the changing stages of life and death. Thinking about death and impermanence is often unpleasant — we usually do not like to acknowledge that everything, including ourselves, is subject to the law of incessant change. But change has good aspects as well, because without change there is no growth or improvement. With the right techniques, skills, and effort, we can learn and make positive changes. By understanding impermanence and causality we can work toward enlightenment and make the most of this human life."

 

**************************************************************************************

 

 

Wishing all a blessed 2015 and beyond. May all beings continue to find the causes of lasting peace and happiness.

 

Wishing you health, happiness, and blessings in 2015, CT.

May we all be more effective in our own practices and personal growth so that we may develop the wisdom and means to help all of those we contact in the coming year!

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The use of the word Mind is so tempting and yet so very problematic. I find the word Awareness to be typically a much better translator of the ideas brought forth above. It's use in the west fairly secures almost complete misunderstanding.

 

Awareness in Buddhism, would be the samjna skandha (i.e. perception aggregate) in the 5 skandha schema, which is a mental factor that is conditioned and impermanent (i.e. momentary). Citta or "mind", would be the vijnana skandha (i.e. consciousness aggregate) in Buddhism, which means that it too is conditioned and impermanent (i.e. momentary).

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Most excellent thread, C T.

You have buddha eyes and buddha heart, so you are able to appreciate the words of these precious teachers!

 

Thank you for expressing this appreciation for the Dharma.

 

_()_

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HH Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche details here the process by which delusion arises, remains, is reinforced, and also, how it can be cut at the root. (courtesy of L. Thundrup)

 

 

"The most primary basis for clinging to the notion of self is the aggregate of form—that is, the body. When this body undergoes various experiences, we perceive some things as pleasant and desire them. Other things are perceived as unpleasant, and we want to get rid of them. This corresponds to the second aggregate, feeling. The third aggregate is discrimination. We start to discriminate between what is pleasant and what is unpleasant. The fourth aggregate is impulse. Once we have identified something as being pleasant, desire for it arises. At the same time, we want to get rid of whatever is unpleasant and try to accomplish this in various ways. What actually experiences the ensuing feelings of satisfaction or misery is consciousness, the fifth aggregate. Consciousness itself has five aspects, related to sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste. Prior to these five aspects and underlying them at all times, there is a basic, undetermined ground consciousness, which corresponds to a vague perception of the outer world and of existence, an awareness that “there is a world out there.”

 

 

It is to all these aggregates coming together that we attach the notion of a self. As a result the aggregates become intimately linked with suffering. However, when we try to investigate these different elements, one by one, they cannot withstand analysis. They have no shape, no color, no location. We cannot determine where they come from, where they remain, and where they go. In no way do they constitute autonomous entities.

 

 

In truth, the notion of self we attach to the aggregates is a mere mental fabrication, a label put on something that does not exist. People who wear tinted glasses or suffer from a visual impairment would see a white conch as yellow, even though the conch has never been anything but white. In the same way, our deluded minds attribute reality to something that is utterly non-existent.

 

This is what we call ignorance: not recognising the void nature of phenomena and assuming that phenomena possess the attribute of true existence although in fact they are devoid of it. With ignorance comes attachment to all that is pleasant to the ego as well as hatred and repulsion for all that is unpleasant. In that way the three poisons—ignorance, attachment, and hatred—come into being. Under the influence of these three poisons, the mind becomes like a servant running here and there. This is how the suffering of samsara is built up. It all derives from a lack of discernment and a distorted perception of the nature of phenomena.

 

 

Because of this distortion, some people perceive samsara as quite a happy place. They don’t realise that it is pervaded with suffering. They imagine that the body is something exceedingly beautiful and desirable. They don’t see that when investigated, it is found to be composed of rather foul substances. In this erroneous ways of seeing things, we take suffering for happiness and perceive the impermanent world as permanent. We thus labour under four main misconceptions: believing that phenomena are pure when they are not; misconstruing suffering for happiness; considering phenomena to be permanent when they are transitory; and imagining that there is a self abiding in the midst of all this, when there is none to be found.

 

 

These are the roots of afflictive mental states, the kleshas. To counteract them, we have to establish clearly the empty nature of the eight consciousnesses [the all-ground consciousness, the defiled mental consciousness, the mental cognition, and the five cognitions of sight, sound, scent, taste, and touch], the five aggregates [the physical and mental constituents of a sentient being: form, feeling, discrimination, impulse, and consciousness], the five elements [earth, air, water, fire, and space], and all phenomena, so that we correctly perceive their true nature, which is devoid of intrinsic existence.

 

 

There are different ways to come to such a conclusion and experience it directly. We may undertake a whole course of study, reflection, and meditation, which gives rise to a clear understanding of the relative and absolute truth. Or we may apprehend it directly through contemplative practice, and recognize through our own experience the dream-like nature of phenomena, which is the way of the yogis. These teachings help us to progress in both ways, through a logical investigation of mind and through experiencing and integrating the result of this investigation through meditation.

 

 

Let’s now examine this object. If we begin by examining a human body to which we are attached, we acknowledge that it is made up of the five aggregates (skandhas) of form, feeling, discrimination, impulse, and consciousness.

 

 

The first one, the aggregate of form, is the foundation for the other four, just as the earth is the supporting ground for all the mountains, forests, and lakes upon it. There are several aspects of this aggregate of form, but here we will investigate the one related to the human body.

 

 

It is because we cling to the entity of a body that even a tiny prick from a thorn makes us miserable. When there is warm sunshine outside, we feel comfortable and the body is pleased. We are constantly preoccupied with the comfort and attractiveness of our body and treat it like the most precious thing. Clinging to the body is the reason we experience such reactions to the pleasant and the unpleasant.

 

 

To eradicate this clinging, we have to examine what the body is really made of. Let’s imagine that like a surgeon, we cut a body open and separate all its major constituents—the blood, the flesh, the bones, the fat, the five main internal organs, the four limbs. If we consider these components separately, not a single one looks clean or pure. Taken one by one, each of the components does not seem at all appealing. The whole body is just a collection of rather disgusting parts, formed of the five elements. The flesh corresponds to the earth element, the blood and the other fluids correspond to the water element, the breath corresponds to the wind element, our body warmth corresponds to the fire element, and the cavities within the body correspond to the space element.

 

 

One of the main ways to decrease or eliminate our attachment to the body is to examine the various parts of the body one by one. When we conduct such an examination of a human body, where has the object of our attachment gone? What is left for us to be attached to? We should keep examining each part more and more minutely until we reach the point where we cannot find the object of our attachment. At that point, the attachment itself just vanishes.

 

 

Unavoidably we come to the conclusion that the body does not truly exist. We have then recognised the void nature of our body and of all forms. When this state of understanding is reached, we simply rest for a while in the equanimity of this recognition. When a thought arises within this state, we repeat the same investigation.

 

 

Once it has been fully grasped that this “body” is empty of true existence, we can easily understand that it is the same with our “name” and with the “mind” made up of the thoughts that go through our consciousness.

 

 

In investigating the nature of phenomena, there are Four Seals or main points we should understand: (1) All things are compounded; that is, they are an assemblage of multiple elements instead of being unitary entities. (2) They are therefore impermanent and (3) are linked with suffering. (4) They are devoid of self-identity.

 

 

As for impermanence, we have a very strong feeling that our body, our mind, our name, and our ego are all permanent. This leads to strong clinging. So to gain certainty in the realisation that all phenomena are utterly transitory is very important. It is like when a thief is unmasked and everyone learns his identity: he then becomes completely powerless to fool anyone, since all are aware of his mischievous nature. The thief can no longer harm anyone. In the same way, if we recognise that everything is impermanent—the universe as well as our thoughts—then naturally we will turn our backs on the objects of our grasping and embrace the dharma as the only thing that can really benefit us.

 

 

Regarding the truth of suffering, we need to recognise that suffering is the condition of all phenomena pertaining to relative truth. Whatever is linked to the five aggregates is intimately connected with suffering. This is because grasping at the aggregates leads to the arising of the five mental poisons (kleshas)— hatred, desire, delusion, pride, and jealousy—which themselves are the causes of nothing but suffering. Even though we may enjoy some kind of temporary happiness in samsara, close inspection reveals that we have often achieved this happiness at the expense of others, or even through harming others, by cheating, stealing, and the like. In behaving like this, although we experience a fleeting happiness, at the same time we are creating causes for our future misery. It is like eating plants that are tasty but poisonous. We may savor them for a few moments, but soon afterward we will die. It is the same for all enjoyments that are linked with negative actions. Once we realise this, we no longer take pleasure in samsaric life, and our desire for it is completely exhausted. This leads to a strong wish to renounce our attachment to worldly affairs and our addiction to the causes of suffering.

 

 

The final one of the four points is about the negative consequence of clinging to the self and the recognition that phenomena are devoid of self-identity. All of the first three points boil down to grasping at self, the main cause of suffering in samsara. Once we latch onto the concepts of “I” and “mine,” anything that seems to threaten that “self”—or an extension of it, such as friends and relatives—is identified as an “enemy.” This leads to craving, hatred, and lack of discernment, the basic causes of samsara.

 

How did this happen at all? It happened because of our mental process, the chain of thoughts. For instance, the thought comes to your mind, “I shall leave my retreat and go into town,” and you follow it. You go into town and perform all kinds of actions there, accumulating a great deal of karma. If, at the moment the thought first arose, it had occurred to you, “There is no point in going to town,” the sequence of thoughts would have been interrupted and all the impulses that followed would have never have occurred. Nothing will happen at all. The cause of delusion is the linking of thoughts, one thought leading to the other and forming a garland of thoughts. We need to free ourselves from these automatic processes.

 

 

This is the reason for these teachings, which are like a spinning wheel of lucid investigation of the nature of discursive thoughts and the ego. After paying attention to the teacher’s words, we should also put them into practice and investigate thoroughly our thoughts and our psychophysical aggregates, until we gain a true certainty about their nature.

 

 

Until now, we had the strong conviction that the self exists as a separate entity. With the help of these teachings, we can now achieve a strong and firm conviction that the ego has no true existence. This will lead to the gradual disappearance of afflictive emotions and thoughts.

 

 

In turn, this will lead to mastering the mind. In our ordinary condition, when a thought of hatred arises, we have no idea how to deal with it. We let that thought grow and become stronger. This could eventually lead us to seize a weapon and go to war. It all began with a thought, nothing more. Look at the succession of thoughts that lead to full-blown hatred: The past thoughts are dead and gone. The present thoughts will soon vanish. There is nothing graspable in either of them. So if we examine the thoughts in depth, we cannot find anything truly existing in them. Under scrutiny, they vanish like a big heap of grass set ablaze. Nothing will be left of it.

 

 

We really must verify for ourselves that whatever thought comes into our mind has never acquired any true existence: thoughts are never born, they never dwell as something truly existing, and they have nowhere to go when they disappear from our mind.

 

Unless we come to a clear understanding of this, why talk about things like the “primordial purity of the Great Perfection” or the “innate wisdom of the Mahamudra”? None of these will help, so long as we perceive phenomena in a deluded way.

 

 

We have spoken of the main ways in which we distort reality: by assuming that conditioned phenomena are endowed with true existence; that fleeting phenomena are permanent; that samsara is generally imbued with happiness despite the pervasiveness of suffering; and that there could ever be such a thing as an autonomous, truly existing self.

 

 

Now we have to replace these distorted perceptions with accurate ways of thinking. Instead of being convinced that there is a self-entity, we realise that self is a mere concept. We should get used to this and impress it on our minds. To achieve this, we must investigate with determined effort the nonexistence of the self until we have covered every aspect of the analysis. Then, like someone who has finally completed an exhausting journey after painstakingly walking over a long distance, we can completely relax in the natural, open state of mind. Without entertaining any thoughts, we simply rest in equanimity for a while.

 

 

After we have recovered our mental strength, thoughts will return. Instead of falling under their influence, apply the same investigation over again, and remain clearly mindful of the nonexistence of the self. This will result in a genuine and powerful realisation of the absence of a truly existing self.

 

 

There are two aspects of mindfulness: first, to remember what causes suffering and needs to be avoided, and what brings happiness and needs to be accomplished; and second, to be constantly vigilant lest we fall under the power of delusion. If we mechanically follow our wandering thoughts instead of remembering to investigate our mind, afflictive emotions such as craving and hatred will rise up strongly. Whenever these assail your mind, you should react just as if you had seen an enemy coming at you: Lift the weapon of mindfulness and resume your investigation of the mind.

 

 

Simply by turning on the light, you can instantly destroy the darkness. Likewise, even a rather simple analysis of ego-clinging and afflictive emotions can make them collapse. By suppression we may temporarily subdue our afflictive emotions, but only an investigation of their true nature will completely eradicate them.

 

 

 

The Measure of Progress

 

Once this is accomplished, a great happiness will settle in the mind. As soon as we notice deluded thoughts arising in relation to conditioned phenomena, generating the scorching heat of samsara, we will recognise the unsurpassable, supreme, unconditioned nature of nirvana, which bestows a cooling, pacifying shade.

 

 

Following our analysis, we should check whether or not the practice has taken birth within us. Having pursued this investigation over and over again, we naturally arrive at a genuine understanding that all our aggregates, like all phenomena, are molded by numberless fleeting causes and conditions. They are compounded things, so that if we take them apart there is nothing left such as a “body” or any of the other entities whose existence we are so convinced of. We will know without doubt that there are no permanent phenomena, since everything changes at every moment.

 

 

We will also know that all phenomena are linked with suffering, and that various ways of assuming the existence of a “self” are all groundless. Thus we will have thoroughly integrated these Four Seals of the Buddha’s teaching into our understanding. From then on, our mindfulness will come naturally and we won’t have to exert so much effort to maintain it. This achievement comes from the power of gaining confidence in the fact that phenomena are devoid of true, inherent existence. A great master once declared that the solidity of the phenomenal world will start to collapse even if one simply begins to doubt that phenomena truly exist and merely glimpses the fact that emptiness is the nature of all phenomena and appearances.

 

When we begin to win the struggle to free ourselves from the waves of afflictive emotions, the mind will become like a calm and vast lake. This peaceful state, the natural tranquility of mind, will lead to deep samadhi [concentration], which is the pacification of wandering, deluded thoughts."

Edited by C T
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One can see ones enlightening potential also through HH Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche's eyes.

YeS! :wub:

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