Ego is like a room of your own, a room with a view with the temperature and the smells and the music that you like. You want it your own way. You'd just like to have a little peace, you'd like to have a little happiness, you know, just gimme a break. But the more you think that way, the more you try to get life to come out so that it will always suit you, the more your dear of other people and what's outside your room grows. Rather than becoming more relaxed, you start pulling down the shades and locking the door. When you do go out, you find the experience more and more unsettling and disagreeable. You become touchier, more fearful, more irritable than ever. The more you try to get it your way, the less you feel at home.
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卍 Erroneous Views of Philosophers
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Excerpt from the Lankavarata Sutra:
Then Mahamati the Bodhisattva-Mahasattca spoke to the Blessed One, saying :
You speak of the erroneous views of the philosophers, will you please tell us of them, that we may be on our guard against them?
The Blessed One replied, saying : Mahamati, the error in these erroneous teachings that are generally held by the philosophers lies in this ;
-- they do not recognise that the objective world rises from the mind itself;
-- they do not understand that the whole mind-system also rises from the mind itself;
-- but depending upon these manifestations of the mind as being real they go on discriminating them, like the simple-minded ones that they are ;
-- cherishing the dualism of this and that, of being and non-being, ignorant of the fact that there is but one common Essence.
On the contrary my teaching is based upon the recognition that the objective world, like a vision, is a manifestation of the mind itself ; it teaches the cessation of ignorance, desire, deed and causality ; it teaches the cessation of suffering that arises from the discrimination of the triple world.
There are some Brahman scholars who, assuming something out of nothing, assert that there is a substance bound up with causation which abides in time, and that the elements that make up personality and its environment have their genesis and continuation in causation and after thus existing, pass away.
Then there are other scholars who hold a destructive and nihilistic view concerning such subjects as continuation, activity, breaking-up, existence, Nirvana, the Path, karma, fruition and Truth. Why?
-- Because they have not attained an intuitive understanding of Truth itself and therefore they have no clear insight into the fundamentals of things.
-- They are like a jar broken into pieces which is no longer able to function as a jar;
-- they are like a burnt seed which is no longer capable of sprouting. But the elements that make up personality and its environment which they regard as subject to change are really incapable of uninterrupted transformations.
-- Their views are based upon erroneous discriminations of the objective world ; they are not based upon the true conception.
Again, if it is true that something comes out of nothing and there is a rise of the mind-system by reason of the combination of the three effect-producing causes, we could say the same of any non-existing thing ; for instance, that a tortoise could grow hair, or sand produce oil. This proposition is of no avail ; it ends in affirming nothing. It follows that the deed, work and cause of which they speak is of no use, and so also is their reverence for being and non-being.
If they argue that there is a combination of the three effect-producing causes, they must do it on the principle of cause and effect, that is, that something comes out of something and not out of nothing.
As long as a world of relativity is asserted, there is an ever recurring chain of causation which cannot be denied under any circumstance, therefore we cannot talk of anything coming to an end of cessation.
As long as these scholars remain on their philosophical ground their demonstration must conform to logic and their textbooks and the memory-habit of erroneous intellection will ever cling to them.
To make the matter worse, the simple-minded ones, poisoned by this erroneous view, will declare this incorrect way of thinking taught by the ignorant, to be the same as that presented by the All-knowing One.
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The Golden Age of Zen
Spring has its hundred flowers, autumn its moon;
☸ The Challenge of Habitual Patterns
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Although intrinsic basic goodness is within all of us, we still come face to face with tremendous challenges known as habitual patterns. Our enthusiasm and awareness may be challenged by emotional afflictions such as ignorance, desire, hatred, jealousy, or anger.
More often than not, we succumb to these distractions. Most of us are so preoccupied with our habit
ual patterns that we've lost the simplicity of absolute truth, which is no longer reflected in the actions of our body, speech, and mind. Failing to maintain our awareness of fundamental truth we come to depend on the falsity of appearances, or false views. We then base all our judgments on what is apparent rather than true.
If anger arises, for example, rather than looking into the depth of another person's heart, we judge the sounds and actions we perceive - which gives rise to endless elaborations. We are then unable to realize our genuine nature. We could say that, ultimately, enlightenment is the exhaustion of all such concepts.
Habitual patterns provide us with a ground of familiarity. It's the familiar way we've lived this life and innumerable other lives; the familiar way we solidify every feeling, perception, thought, and action. It's the familiar way we make things real - elaborating, judging, and expanding - and then cater to that reality and try to survive in it.
We may not like our anger, for example, but if anger is our habitual ground it's more familiar than tolerance. And in spite of our aspirations, we're unable to let go of anger and turn to tolerance. We are constantly faced with the challenge of breaking through what have become very set patterns of thinking, speaking, and living.
- This Precious Life: Tibetan Buddhist Teachings on the Path to Enlightenment by Khandro Rinpoche
卍 What Buddha said about the creation of this world
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The Universe and everything that’s in it is controlled by independent, ageless rules. These rules have been in use for the immeasurable past and will continue into the infinite future. According to Buddha’s teachings, there never was a beginning; and, there will never be a final end. The Buddha said that there are at least a billion other solar systems like our own, and, as these grow old and perish, new solar systems arise. Buddhism believes that neither the world, nor the man was created by an external source; but, by the laws of nature.
If man is created by an external source, then he must belong to that source and not to himself. Buddhists believe that man does belong to himself and that he is responsible for everything he does. They believe that man is here today because of his own actions. He is neither punished nor rewarded by anyone but himself according to his own good and bad actions which is called Karma. The scientific discovery of gradual development of the world-system conforms with the Buddha's teachings.
But, Buddhists do not deny the existence of various gods or deities who are more fortunate than human beings who possess certain powers which human beings usually lack. However the powers of these deities are limited because they are also transient beings. They exist in happy abodes and enjoy their life for a longer period than human beings. When they have exhausted all the good karma they have gathered during previous births, these deities pass away and are reborn somewhere else according to their good and bad karmas.
According to Buddha, human beings have more chances to accrue merits to be born in a better condition and the gods have less chances in this respect. Whether they are great or small, both human beings and deities are perishable and subject to rebirth. worshipping and offering in the name of such deities can not bring anybody the final bliss, the Nirvana, the uprooting and final dissolution of the volitional formations (referred to as samskaras or sankharas), structures within the unconscious mind that are the cause for the material incarnation of the beings. The person who attains Nirvana is never born again.
May Triple Gem Bless You !
☯ 禍與福 Misery and Happiness
☸ An Interview with His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche - James & Carol George
His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche was one of the leading masters of the pith-instructions of Dzogchen (the Great Perfection), one of the principal holders of the Nyingmapa Lineage, and one of the greatest exemplars of the non sectarian tradition in modern Tibetan Buddhism. He was a scholar, sage and poet, and the teacher of many important leaders of all four schools of Tibetan Buddhism. He passed away on September 27, 1991, in Thiumphu, Bhutan.
This interview was conducted by James and Carol George, who first met His Holiness Khyentse Rinpoche in Sikkim in 1968 while Mr. George was serving as the Canadian Ambassador to Nepal and the High Commissioner to India. In the following years, the Georges were fortunate to meet with His Holiness several times in Nepal, Bhutan, and later in Toronto and New York. Since his retirement from diplomatic service, Mr. George has been working with the Threshold Foundation, Friends of the Earth, and the Sadat Peace Foundation. Tulku Pema Wangyal Rinpoche was the translator. This interview took place in May, 1987, at Karme Choling Meditation Center in Vermont, where Khyentse Rinpoche had come to preside over the cremation ceremonies for Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (1910-1991)
I suppose, even to begin an interview like this, we need to find a right attitude.
Khyentse Rinpoche: Yes! Even for an interview right attitude is very important, especially for anything connected with a spiritual training. For example, when we pay our respects to a Buddha statue or we meet a highly accomplished spiritual master, our attitude is very important. The quality of our attitude can make all the difference in spiritual practice. In essence, a perfect attitude is to meet the teacher, receive his teachings, and put them into practice in order to perfect oneself to benefit all sentient beings.
We begin to know in the West that, in spite of amazing technologies, we are, in our inner life, living in a wasteland. How do you see us? What has gone wrong with us, and what, from your point of view, do we most need now?
Khyentse Rinpoche: It seems very important for all of us to seek ultimate peace and freedom. If we are constantly being disturbed and losing our inner peace and freedom, what kind of happiness do we have, after all?
How can we begin the work of transformation?
Khyentse Rinpoche: If we had to make a choice between outer pleasure, comfort and peace, and inner freedom and ultimate happiness, we should choose inner peace. If we could find that within, then the outer would take care of itself. Even when we have a comfortable and pleasant life externally, if our inner peace is shattered, or disturbed, we are not able to enjoy all that we have in our outer life. To make that transformation we find, when we think only of ourselves, and hold on to things, consider ourselves and our happiness as the most important thing, that it is the ego and its clinging that disturbs both the outer and the inner happiness. Even if we have a well-organized outer life, it can be very difficult for us to find inner happiness because we can never be satisfied so long as we have not cut the attachments due to ego. There is no end to it—it wants more and more—without any limit. The ego is insatiable. So it seems necessary to work on that, to free ourselves from ego, with the help of teachings, especially the Buddha's teachings on this subject, in which we will find all kinds of ways and means of developing peace both externally and internally. Of course it is the inner that is important, not only for this life but for our lives to come, and not only for ourselves but for others too.
Khyentse Rinpoche at his monastery, Sechen Tennyi Dargyeling, Nepal, 1983
Tibetan Buddhism was created for very different conditions from those which exist in the West today. I am interested in your assessment of the future of Buddhism in North America and the main obstacles Westerners may experience in receiving it.
Khyentse Rinpoche: The teachings of Buddha are not just for an immediate result but for a work that may last for many lives to come. The main obstacle in the East, as well as in the West, is that, if we check our habits that relate to our various negative emotions and positive emotions, we see that we habitually have much stronger negative emotions, and that we get distracted by them. So we hold on to our negative emotions very tightly and, especially in the West, many distractions result from that. We may have some interest and desire to practice but somehow we don't (in the West) really see the importance of such training and how the teaching would help us progress and find lasting happiness and peace and liberation. But if we have a strong sense of what should be our main aim, and make efforts diligently, we can have a result in this present life. Look at the lives of Milarepa and of the close disciples of Guru Padmasambhava, the great masters of the past. They could put almost 100% of their energy into spiritual training and within their lifetimes they could really see the quality and benefit of such a training unfold. But what happens to us? Even if we are interested and try to practice, it is rare for students to put even 20% of their energy into practice. Their distractions and habits are much stronger than their diligence. This applies not only in the West but also in the East. What happens in the West is that there are many distractions, and even if there is interest, the quality and intensity of practice suffers, and we cannot put all our energy into it. And before even starting practice we already have an idea of the result we are working for—and that also spoils everything. Strong expectation without strong diligence is, it seems to me, a major obstacle, and at the same time a major danger for the Buddha dharma. Of course, the outer teachings from all the traditions will remain more or less available, but the inner and most profound—the direct transmissions—may be virtually lost. We live in a very difficult time, and it will become more difficult to find profound masters and to get in touch with such teachings. His Holiness the Dalai Lama and other great Tibetan masters have been doing their best-whatever they could-but although the external aspect of the teachings will continue, more or less, because there are many young lamas, the transmission that depends on inner realization will become more problematic and difficult, and mayor may not continue. So the main obstacle here, as I see it, is high expectations pursued without sufficient diligence in a setting of many distractions.
Monks conducting a ceremony in the courtyard of Shechen Tennyi Dargyeling
So the difficulties on the path are not so very different in America from those you experience with your own people?
Khyentse Rinpoche: There are general obstacles and hindrances on the path that we find in the East as well as in the West. But in Tibet we had a training that was handed down over many centuries—a training that has been preserved in an intensive way, so that even though there are obstacles, the interest and wish to go through the training is so strong that somehow students manage to get through it, and even find that the obstacles can serve as a support for progress. In the West we find similar obstacles which make for blockages and hindrances on the path, and surely more distractions than in our part of Tibet. People know that they must expect obstacles, but they become so involved in them here that it becomes very difficult to overcome them. So there is a difference in the intensity of the problem.
Do you feel, in these circumstances, that any adaptation is necessary in transmitting Vajrayana to America? I know Trungpa Rinpoche must have been wrestling with this question all the time he was here.
Khyentse Rinpoche: Yes, adaptation is necessary.
Certainly Trungpa Rinpoche's own work in America was very difficult. Since you were one of his principal teachers, I would be interested to know how you see the way he carried out his mission here. Some of his actions have been judged negatively, and yet he touched tens of thousands of lives, especially among the young. How are we to understand such a teacher and his rather provocative behavior?
Khyentse Rinpoche with tulkus from his monastery, 1990
Khyentse Rinpoche: The way he tried to approach the students in the West shows that he had the inner understanding of people and the best way to communicate with them directly, although there were hindrances and obstacles. To continue what he has started will be possible if there are beings like him who have the inner understanding and at the same time the skill in communicating with people. Then it should be possible to benefit beings in the best way; but it is difficult to find such beings.
You officiated at his cremation ten days ago and you composed a poem asking him to return quickly. And yet you teach, as I understand it, that there is no self. So what is there that can return, either as a Rinpoche or Tulku, or in the case of ordinary beings who are reborn? What is the nature of the self that can return?
Khyentse Rinpoche: There has not been and will not be any such "self" or substantial entity which clings or is attached to one thing after another. But if you were to ask, "Well, what then is manifesting?" I would say that from the nature of emptiness (sunyata), great compassion manifests just as the sun manifests light. It unfolds by itself—no subject and no object. Out of compassion, those enlightened beings and masters manifest in response to the needs of beings who have already made, or are going to make, connections with them. For instance, His Holiness Karmapa is an enlightened being from the first Karmapa, so he does not have to come back—he just comes out of compassion in response to the needs of beings who have, or will have, a connection with him, for their benefit.
Khyentse Rinpoche and his grandson and dharma heir, Rabjam Rinpoche. France, circa 1980
But, as regards the real nature of the self, one's experience of awareness, especially at moments when I am more or less empty of thoughts and trying to bring body, speech and mind together (as you have been teaching), then there seems to be something behind it all that is an entity, that is not forever changing. Logically, a doctrine of impermanence means no self can exist, but isn't that sometimes contradicted by our experience?
Khyentse Rinpoche: Yes. There is a state which is beyond any concepts or thoughts, and which is inconceivable. Its nature is void and its expression is compassion, and when that great compassion manifests in response to the needs of beings there is—at the relative level—change and impermanence. But there is a state beyond the very idea of change or permanence. If we could reach that level, in that state we would find the "self" quite different from the idea we have now of, say, atman. The absolute truth is totally beyond any kind of concept and elaboration, such as existing and non existing, permanent and impermanence, and so on. So, in a way, we could speak of a "Great Permanence" as a metaphor to indicate the immutability of the absolute truth but in no way should this be understood as a permanent entity which could be labeled as "self" or atman, as this would again be falling into limiting conditions. It is unnecessary to postulate the existence of a self as the absolute nature is beyond all concepts. Limiting concepts and views, such as eternalism and nihilism, are the very root of delusion.
So practice then, is with the aim of connecting with that level beyond concepts?
Khyentse Rinpoche: Yes.
It seems to me that the view being expressed is rather close to that of modern physics in the West, in which there is energy and space, and not much else. Mostly emptiness.
Khyentse Rinpoche: Yes, rather close. The Buddhist view also says that when one tries to track the phenomenal world down to independent, truly existing and indivisible atoms, no such entities can be found.
I would also like to ask about suffering, because one of the primary motivations given for working on this path, with all the rigorous practices that are demanded, is to free ourselves from suffering. And yet I wonder whether higher beings do not, in a conscious way, suffer more intensely?
Khyentse Rinpoche: It is important for us to know the nature of suffering in samsara; but knowing the nature of suffering is not enough. There is a difference between ordinary beings and those who are on the path. The latter can simultaneously know suffering and the emptiness of suffering that is the state of wisdom. It goes beyond, totally beyond, all suffering in the ordinary sense, and includes compassion which is stronger than suffering. So there is such a difference between those who suffer passively, without compassion, and those who experience at the same time compassion, born of wisdom.