Seuraa meitä

Chungpo Gyalton Rinpoche: The 37 practices of a Bodhisattva (I)

Helsinki 23.6.2007 morning

First of all, I'm very happy to be here today in Finland, all this happened very briskly for me actually, I wasn't really planning to travel for still a few more years, but somehow all these new centres here were formed and my guru Vajradhara Tai Situpa thought it was very good for me to travel here, so that is how I'm here.

Now, since we don't have much time, just two days, I will try [to teach] as much as possible. We chose this particular text of "The 37 practices of a Bodhisattva" by Gyalse Thogme Zangpo, so we will try to finish as much as possible from there, but I thought more than finishing, given the importance of finishing a certain amount, I think it is more important to know what you are practicing more clearly, how a Buddhist practitioner should practice while listening to a teaching, what kind of a motivation you should have. Even in the contents of this book if you go more deeply into it, then I think it is more beneficial than just touching every topic in it.

So, whatever we can finish we will do, I don't know whether we will finish the whole thing, but it doesn't matter, what we do we will do it well, we can always continue again some other time.

Now as a Buddhist practitioner, what is our main kind of a motivation or goal? It's to benefit all beings. So from that point of view also, for all of us to respect all religions is very important.

It is because we are practitioners of Buddhism or we are a Buddhist, you should not look down on any other religion.

For example here, you have I'm sure many other religions, so all religions, the basic thing they teach, the most important thing is to be a good human being, to uphold your human value, all religions teach the same. There might have been some in the past, which have not practiced this, which have practiced for their own worldly purposes, but those kind of religions have not lasted, because it is worldly, for worldly benefit, so it will not last long. Whatever religion we have here, which lots of people believe in and practice, all religions benefit all beings, it is important to understand that and respect all religions.

All beings, like us, want happiness for themselves. All beings, like us, don't want suffering for themselves and every individual being is different, so all religions also are there to benefit different beings according to their needs. For some beings, Buddhism, the teachings that we practice, might be more effective, that is why they follow Buddhism – that helps them. For others, for their kind of understanding the teachings in Christianity might be more beneficial, for their level of understanding, so for them that is better. In the same way for some maybe following Islam may be better, according to their understanding, so that is how depending on the other person's level of understanding, depending on how it benefits the person's mind, people practice differently, on different levels.

For example, even in Buddhism, there are turning of three wheels, Buddha turned three wheels on different levels. In Buddhism the goal is one thing, when you reach the goal, enlightenment, it is the same thing, but why was it necessary to teach on three different levels, why, it is because the beings on the other side, they have a different level of understanding, they have different needs, so according to that, the teaching was given. Because of that, three different levels were there.

In the same way, all religions according to different levels also benefit all beings. In this way you have to understand that all religions benefit beings and this is how you develop respect for all religions, not only that this religion is the best. Depending on each individual's needs, for example you all maybe found Buddhism more effective for your mind, so that is why you all are here, so in the same way, people who are practicing Christianity, for them maybe that is more beneficial, so they are practicing that.

As Buddhists we have to understand that everything is interdependent, everything is co-existing dependent on each other, this is very important. This is where there is a difference, a little difference in understanding, we believe that everything is dependent on each other.

Let's say, for example, a mother and a son, each one is dependent from each other. If the son wasn't there, the mother wouldn't have been called a mother, a woman without a child will not be called a mother, but because there was a son, she is called a mother. So in the same way, again, the child also wouldn't have been called a son if the mother wasn't there. So where did the mother and the son come from? It is interdependent, it is dependent on each other, so because of one the other one exists, because of the other one the one exists, so this is co-existence.

Nothing is there as one, as defined as mother, as for example, if you say a mother itself, you cannot say there is only mother as mother, everything is dependent on each other. This is something that we have, it's our perception, we have given this thing [a name] as mother, because even when there is something as a son, then there is a mother, when there is a mother, there's a son, so this is something that we have made up, it is not by itself there, permanently.

Another example, let's say height. Let's examine these three things, this glass, this yellow book and this green book. Of these two books, which one is taller? The green one is taller, right? Which one is shorter? The yellow is shorter, so now you have said this is short. If this is really short, now you keep it next to this glass, now which is shorter, the glass or the yellow book? Yes, the glass is shorter, now the yellow book has become taller. So if this [the yellow book] was by definition really short, it should have remained shorter when it was with the glass, as how it was shorter before. But it is no more short, it is tall. Where did all of this come from? It is something that we have made up, it is not like that by itself, as what it is, these things are dependent on each other, so this is how it is. If you understand this, then you understand emptiness also.

So for anything, everything is like that, interdependent, existing in co-existence, everything works on that [basis], when you understand this well, then you understand what emptiness is.

I give you another example again, a more common, practical example nowadays, beauty. You say beauty, you have these beauty pageants, modeling and all that, they win certain thing, Miss Universe or something, most beautiful thing, they win that, so this beauty now. They are supposed to be very beautiful, so when there are judges sitting there, maybe five judges, when a very beautiful lady comes there, if she was really beautiful, the points should have been all ten, ten, ten, ten, ten.

But it is not the case, you see ten, eight, five, seven, judges are giving these kinds of points, so what is it? Each have their own view, it's dependent on one's own view, so there is nothing as beauty defined by one person being beautiful, there is no beauty as such, things depend on each other.

So when you are able to understand this well, your level of attachment towards certain things comes down, because you understand that this is not what you think it is, it's depending on each individual. If it was really something what you think, then it should have been the same for everyone, but that is not the case, it is a matter of your perception, each individual's perception. Through that kind of view your attachment toward certain things also comes down.

When your attachment level comes down, your suffering is also less. Why? Because all suffering is there since we want so much, we are attached to so many things, and when we are not able to get that, then we have great suffering.

So we don't realize, but we are always suffering, everything is suffering.

Suffering of suffering, we do realize when we have that. Suffering of suffering means, let's say having lots of problems with your financial status, then you are having problems feeding your children, and lots of trouble. And then on top of that trouble you are suffering, because then the husband and wife have fights and they separate, so that's another suffering, so that's suffering on top of a suffering.

Another example is when you have tooth pain, it is connected to nerves, so first there is this tooth pain, and then because of that you get a headache. This kind of suffering most of us understand, we can feel it.

Then another suffering is suffering of change. Everything, even happiness, if you think about it, actually is suffering. For example, what do people like in Finland the most? Yesterday was the summer's longest day, people like to go out to the islands, drink and all that, they want to enjoy in that way, so people go there first and then they enjoy, so call enjoy happiness, drink, and then they go for a nice swim in the water, and they are drunk and they drown there. That is how from happiness it changes to suffering, this is suffering of change.

You might say not everyone drowns, but even if you say that, then I will give you another example. You go there, you drink, you have fun, so you say this is happiness, next day when you get up, you get up with a terrible headache, and this is also suffering.

Anything, you can take an example of anything that you call happiness just now, can turn into suffering. Some people work so hard to get a very nice car. The minute they get this very nice car they are very happy, they have a very expensive car, but then the next minute when they are driving it they're suffering because now they have to protect that car; a little scratch can mean a lot of money for them, so they are suffering now out of that. So every time you drive you have to look right, you have to look left. If you have decent car which you really don't have to bother so much, you can go happily everywhere, even a little scratch no problem, but now you have this very expensive car, and you have to have so much of care given to that car and through that you have so much of suffering.

But I'm not telling you not to enjoy. Relatively, these are relative enjoyments which are subject to change, so I'm not saying suffer, as in suffering of suffering. You have to enjoy, you enjoy but you understand that this is subject to change, it is not a permanent thing, then you don't get carried away. You have to realize that all this is suffering, and when you realize that it is so, you develop an eagerness to be free from suffering. Otherwise you don't, you will be stuck there, you don't want to be free from the suffering. If you don't know suffering, then you will not be free from that. In order to be free from suffering, you have to understand what suffering is, so that is what I'm telling you. This shows the state of change. Everything is changing, nothing is permanent.

Now, since we don't have much time to go into details of each topic, I will talk about another topic now. When you understand everything is changing, then even when you are suffering, you don't have to lose all your confidence. Otherwise when you have depression, you take your life, you do all sorts of these things. Why? Because you don't understand that everything is subjected to change, and even your suffering, (relatively I'm talking), even your suffering is subject to change, so why to make so big deal about this suffering? That way you develop this confidence also.

In the same way, now, when you are enjoying relative happiness, at the time being, enjoying great happiness, when you realize this, you don't become over-happy in the sense you don't get carried away by that, because everything is subjected to change. That way you can keep a check on yourself, so when there is a change again, you don't become too depressed. If you don't understand this, you cannot accept the change. In that way, there is not so much suffering. When you understand suffering you are able to relate to it and be free from it.

Then there is the third kind of suffering, which is called all-pervasive suffering. All-pervasive suffering means we are always suffering, we are never free from suffering as long as we are in the samsara, so we are always suffering, but there is some suffering that you do not understand or experience. Even trees, mountains, all this is suffering. Now this is difficult to understand just now, because these two other sufferings, they are so powerful that you understand them, but it overpowers them, that's why you do not really, cannot really feel it.

If you say there's suffering, you have to feel it, but it is very small for you to feel. For example you take let's say some dust particle, when it is in your eye, you can feel great discomfort, your eye becomes red, starts watering, so there's great discomfort, but when that same particle is on your palm, you don't have any discomfort. But you cannot say that it's not there, it is there, the particle's weight is the same on your palm and in your eye, the particle is there, but you cannot say that because there is no feeling on your hand. It's in that way this third suffering is there, to put it easy, anything that obstructs one from enlightenment you could call it all-pervasive suffering.

Now you know we are constantly suffering. All beings, till we end samsara, till we are not liberated. So that is why we want to be liberated, because all beings don't want suffering, they want happiness. So when is that possible? When you attain enlightenment, then you are free from all suffering, so that is why we want to be liberated. For that we practice, for that we are practicing here, for that reason you are here today.

Now while listening to, while practicing anything, whether you are listening to a practice, whether you are contemplating on a practice, whether you are meditating, whenever you are doing all these three, it is very important to understand the right attitude to your practice, and the right conduct in your practice, so these two are very important to understand.

The right attitude has two parts. You have to understand right attitude, in order to understand what kind of attitude you should have, there are two things.

One is the Bodhicitta. First is the Bodhicitta, I will talk about it. Our Bodhicitta, what does it mean? May I practice whatever practice I'm doing for the benefit of all beings, not for myself only, but for all beings.

Normally in our text we say mother sentient being. Why mother sentient being? All beings, all sentient beings have been your mother, because you have lived countless lives, so during those countless lives that you have lived, all beings have been your mother countless times. All beings have been your father countless times. All beings have been your brother, sister, everything you can imagine countless times, your enemy, friends, everything, countless times, but now we are praying, practicing for all their benefit, but we specifically say mother sentient being in order to show the depth of it how much we understand, how much we respect them.

When we were born, if mother wasn't there to give us milk, we wouldn't be here today, we wouldn't survive without our mother, so that is why mother is important. She's the first one to teach us how to eat, how to talk, everything. So that is why mother is so important, very important for us, that is why we say mother.

Even in the womb, when we were in the womb, how much suffering she had to go through for us. For example, baby kicks sometimes in the stomach – how much pain there is because of that, she has to go through that pain. Then she cannot eat many things which she likes, she has to control her diet, how much suffering, she cannot eat everything she wants because of the baby, because of us, she has to sacrifice so much. And cannot go to all places where she likes to go, why? Because of the baby inside her stomach, that is us. And then, even external looks also, her stomach becomes big, she feels shy to go everywhere and has to wear loose clothes, so she's suffering through consciousness – that is also suffering for her. She had to bear all that, she bared all that for us, so now how dear is she for us, this is how dear she is, that is why we say mother sentient being, just to show the depth of the respect.

But if you, those people who like the father more, or the brother more, you can think about them also, there's no problem. Because all beings have been our mother, father, brother countless times, so it includes all beings there.

So when we say mother sentient being, it just does not mean your mother in this life. Because all beings have been your mother countless times, it means all beings.

All these beings are suffering so much from the sufferings that I've told you about, everyone is suffering, why? Because of their defilements they don't see the true nature of everything. They're living in an illusion, so that is why they are suffering so much. Realizing this, that all of them are suffering so much, how can you be happy here, how can you live happily, when you know that such dear people, who have done so much for you, are all suffering, how can you stay here relaxed, not working, not doing anything towards their well-being.

They can only be free of all sufferings when they understand the ultimate state of everything, when they are no more in this illusion, when they see everything as it is, as in the true state, then they are above the level of suffering. That is only when they can have the ultimate happiness. For that purpose you want to work, you are practicing for all beings to be liberated to that state. So you want to liberate them. Not being in the position of liberating them, you cannot liberate them. So in order to do a certain action, you have to have the power to do that action.

This is why we practice, to be free. We practice to be liberated, in order to reach the state of enlightenment so that we can benefit all beings to reach that state, this is why we are practicing.

I'll give you an example which I experienced just before coming here.

Due to my lack of experience in applying for visas to go to other countries, I started very late, and I was running out of time. In Finnish embassy Mrs. Anne working there was a great help. I went to the embassy to get the visa, but I needed the visa much faster than it is normally given to people. I asked for some help from a person who could help me in the embassy, who had the power to help, so she kindly helped me. So you have to be in the power to help someone in certain thing. In the same way to liberate all beings, first you have to be in the state to liberate all beings, and that is why you have to practice.

But of course there is no harm in having greater aspirations. For example there are three kinds of aspirations, one is like the aspiration of a king. A king, what does he do? First he becomes powerful himself, then only he thinks about his citizens. To protect his citizens first he has to be the king himself, he has to be a powerful king, he has to have all these members of his ministers under control. Only after that, when he is able to control everything, he conquers a lot of places, and then he spreads happiness, he thinks about the happiness of his people. So first he thinks of his own happiness, and in the same way one aspiration is: "May I attain enlightenment. After attaining enlightenment, then may I help all beings." This is one kind of aspiration.

Now the second aspiration is the aspiration of a sailor. We use a sailor as an example. When a sailor sails his boat with a passenger, when he goes from one shore to the other, he does not go there alone, nor the passenger reach there first, they reach together, so in the same way, when you do the aspiration, you say: "May I and all beings attain enlightenment together." That kind of aspiration is this second aspiration.

And the third aspiration is like a shepherd. A shepherd, what does he do? When he takes his sheep out in the morning to the grassland, to the mountain, what he does first, he chooses a place where it is best for his sheep to graze. He will think about that and then he will take his sheep there and he will let them have as much food as possible. Throughout the day he will be guarding them from wolves and from other animals, he will be guarding them, watching them and he will stay there. And in the evening he will bring the sheep back home, he will put the sheep back in the place, do everything, and once they are comfortable, put properly, then he goes back to his room, takes food and relaxes. First he's put the sheep, the priority were the sheep, and after that he's put his own [needs]. In the same way, the aspiration is also in that way: "May all beings attain enlightenment, because enlightenment is the only way all beings can have ultimate happiness, so may all beings attain enlightenment, and only after that may I attain enlightenment."

Now practically speaking this is a little difficult, as I told you, this is difficult, but the greater the aspiration the better. The greater your aspiration, the more powerful it is. Practically, whatever happens, if you can have the third kind of aspiration, like the shepherd, then that's the best, you should have that kind of aspiration. If I give you a normal example, let's say, you are making a product, and your goal is to sell it just amongst your friends, the quality or the product, success of the product will be that much, it will not be much. But if you have the goal or aspiration of making a product the best in the world, best everywhere, then according to that, the result is greater. So in the same way, your aspiration should be great, so that it develops into a great effect, so that is why the higher the aspiration, the better.

With this kind of aspiration you work for the benefit of all beings. Not by feeling sad for them, in a sense of normal sadness, there is a difference, you work with great respect. As I told you, the mother sentient beings have been your every relative before, they have done so much for you, so through this kind of respect for them. Yet they are suffering, so with that kind of attitude working for them, that is the true compassion.

Compassion comes from great respect for others, respect for beings. That is compassion, it develops from respect. Everything is not compassion. For example, generosity, people can mix up compassion and normal generosity. When you just give something to someone, you should see how you are giving. If you are giving through respect, developing this kind of respect to this other being, when you give, it becomes compassion.

But if you give to a person as if this other person was inferior to you, thinking you have more wealth than this person, and therefore he is lower than you and then you give, that is not compassion, that is looking down on someone. This does not become compassion, instead your ego is built up, you are giving through your ego, so that is not truly compassionate giving. But it is good, it's better giving than not giving, so that way it is good, you give, I'm not saying you don't give, it's good to give, but if you can develop this kind of respect, and then give, then that becomes very good. That becomes true compassion. It is said that offering or any act, it does not depend on the quantity of it, it depends on the quality of it.

For example when you are offering to Buddha, if you give, let's say a bag of gold, or if you can offer let's say a bag of stones, you offer a bag of stones, just normal stones, if you can really offer with that same kind of purity, then it is the same.

Of course this sounds very nice to our ears, when you can offer stones, it sounds very nice. This itself shows that there is difference between the purity, because relatively, for us, gold is more precious than stones. So when you can offer a bag of gold, there's more strings attached to that, you cannot easily offer a bag of gold, whereas bag of stones you will just without thinking, without much you will offer it because you don't lose so much in that, relatively. Ultimately it is the same but relatively it makes a big difference for us, so now, this is how it works, offering.

When you are able to offer something that is very dear to you, which means you have more attachment to that, you are able to reduce your attachment. In time it helps to reduce your level of attachment. In this way it benefits you, whereas when you are giving an offering of a bag of stones, there is no attachment towards that bag of stones, so with that, when you give that, the effect to your attachment is also less, so the benefits are less. For Buddha a bag of stones and a bag of gold are the same, the preciousness is all our perception. It is according to ourselves, but for Buddha it's the same, so it makes a difference to us, that is why we offer gold to Buddha, not a stone. This is the difference, that is why we say the more you can offer the better it is, because of this. Not because Buddha wants more gold, it is because it makes a difference to your mind, this is how it helps.

This is why we say you have to offer the best thing you have to the Buddha, the best thing you can to the Dharma, the best thing you can to the Sangha, this is why we say so, you should see it in that way. Of course ultimately, all are same, but we are still in the relative world, and as long as we are in the relative world, these relative things are there. There is a difference, you cannot say there is no difference. Of course if you are in the level of understanding that stone and gold are the same, for you, then of course you can offer stones, a bag of stones. I'm not saying there aren't anyone who can do that, but for me there is a difference. I think that is more beneficial for me to offer gold than stones, because with my own attachments, with my level of attachment, with all that it effects more to my attachment, that makes more effect to me, so for me that is beneficial. In that way it depends on each individual again, but I feel that is why we do that kind of offering. So it is not a waste, because after all, this is your perception, and also everything is subject to change and impermanent, so why to have so much of hold onto anything.

It is very important to understand holding, you should not hold on to something with too much of attachment. You should know that all this is your perception. It is not as what you think, actually, this is very important to see, every practice is related to these things. For example, tomorrow I was asked to give you a teaching on the Green Tara, we will do the practice of Green Tara, so while doing these practices also you have to have [three things]. While doing any Buddhist practice there are three things that you should know.

Let's say for example when you go to school, first, you have to say I'm present, otherwise you will be marked absent on that particular day. So you have to do that, then the main body is attending the class and everything and after everything is over, the classes are over, you say goodbye to everyone and you return home, so everything has its order, so same way, even your practice has some particular order in which you have to do it.

First we have Refuge in the Three Jewels, after that, Bodhicitta, very important.

And the second, it says in English, avoid conceptualization, concept, this is very important now, in any practice, when you practice a particular deity, you should not think this deity is there, hold on to it like permanent kind of thing. If you practice like that it becomes holding on to something, that becomes a perception again, and that is attachment. Then it is not going to benefit you, so when you are practicing in any practice you have to know that everything is perception. It is just a concept, so you have to know that, and then you practice. Through that it benefits you. This is because everything is perception actually, your own perception, but we don't realize this because we have been countless lifetimes with this, in our ignorance, so we don't realize it.

Now Vajrayana is the most profound method which can help you to cut through this in the shortest way, to reach enlightenment. With these kind of methods when you practice, with understanding, this kind of understanding, then, when you get used to that, and realize that, then you see that everything is like that. Through that kind of practice, it becomes a proper practice, otherwise when you hold on to something as permanent, then it becomes another holding on to something, you are creating one more perception and then getting attached to that, so this is not good, it is not going to benefit you. So you have a perception knowing it is a perception, it is there, and then you practice through that, but knowing the quality, actually it's a perception, and then not holding on to it, and then practicing, that is the proper practice.

This is why we say Vajrayana is full of methods, and there are lots of methods, very profound, very profound, so you can attain enlightenment in one lifetime if you practice it in the proper way, good practice can give you the result in one lifetime. But if you do not practice, if you mis-practice it, it can take you even further deeper into your ignorance.

It is like medicine, for example, more concentrated medicines, if you know how to take it, it can cure easily and is more effective, but if you don't know how to take it, it can kill you instantly. The stronger it is, if you misuse it, it's worse, but if you use it in the proper way, it is more effective. So in the same way, this is also that kind of thing.

So it should be something like a dumb person, dumb in the sense of who doesn't know what is sweet, who doesn't know what is sour, who doesn't know what is you, who doesn't know what is me, who doesn't have any understanding. When he puts sugar in his mouth, he does not say anything. When we put sugar in our mouth we say that is sweet, when we put salt in our mouth, we say that is salty. Why? Because sweetness, saltiness is a perception. We have said that this kind of taste is sweet, that kind of taste is salty, according to that, when we have that kind of taste, we say this is this, this is that.

Now, when this dumb person has the same taste that we have, he will feel the same taste that we have, but he will not say it's sweet, he will not say it's sour, he will not say it's salty, because for him, that is not there, sweet, sour, salty, is not there. If that was really sweet, as what we call it, he should say it's sweet. You cannot say he doesn't get the taste, he gets the exact taste as we did, only for him all that perception is not there. So it should be that kind of a practice, not holding on to anything. (Translator: Did I get you right, we should practice like this dumb person?) I mean when you practice, you should not hold on to the perceptions as how we hold on to this is sweet, this is sour, so dumb person doesn't have that kind of a holding on to anything, so your practice also should be that way.

If you don't know how to practice, then you will go crazy and if you know how to practice, you wouldn't go crazy. So while practicing, if you understand this, then when you see that there is not too much [happening], when you see there is no improvement, when you don't feel special in you, then it will not make you feel that I'm not doing the right thing, because there is not holding on to it, so that way then there is improvement. That itself is practice, not holding on to all these kinds of things. When you have too much of: "I should feel like this, I should feel like that", then that itself is perception, you are going deeper into that, and that is not practice. So when you practice it should be calm, you shouldn't have all these kinds of holding on to "I should experience this, I should experience that".

And then of course, when your practice goes [all right], you do experience certain kind of level, because your mind is calm, and you are seeing the state of your mind. Then there does happen a little different state, but you should not hold on to that and think that now I am different, now I'm experiencing something different, because that again can change, so you should not have holding on to that but continue the practice, then that way, it will go to the right direction.

So the main body should be practiced this way, whatever practice you do, you should have this kind of outlook, not hold on to it as permanent.

And then now the third part is the conclusion part. As you have concluding part in your practice also, after practicing, very important, dedicate your practice to all beings; this is very, very important.

So, dedicating. In all my previous countless lifetimes that I've accumulated good merit, all the merit – and we have accumulated a lot of good merit in the previous countless lifetimes, that is why we are here as human beings with such intelligence, with such quality – so this does not come just like that. When you do something good, a positive action has always a positive reaction, or it has a positive result, that is a common thing, you know it, and if you do a negative action there is always a negative result. This is common sense which you can acquire in day-to-day life, so in the same way also, through our countless lifetimes of positive actions we have attained this life, and we know we have done positive actions in previous lives. And we have been associated with buddhadharma in our previous lifetimes, that is why we are here today, it wouldn't come from nowhere. So all the countless lifetimes of good merit that we have accumulated and the coming lifetimes that we will have, the future lifetimes, the merits that we accumulate then, and the merit that we accumulate in this lifetime, especially for example today, by listening to this teaching, contemplating on this teaching, may all that merit benefit all beings to be free from suffering. Free from suffering means, be liberated, only then can you be free, ultimately free from suffering, otherwise, temporarily, free from suffering means there's always suffering. This kind of dedication of merit is very important at the end of any practice.

That is why whatever you do, whatever practice you do, any action of giving, any action of whatever you do, always correct yourself, always see what you are doing, be mindful, think what you are doing, that is it the right thing, whether you are listening to dharma, whether you are doing it for the right purpose, always checking your conduct is very important, what you are doing is very important.

Secondly it says here that knowing how profound the vast skills and means of the secret Vajrayana are, you will practice it. So if you know it, then you will practice it. Therefore I shall touch the topic a little.

In the text it says like this: "Vajrayana has the same goal but it is free of all confusion." Its goal of reaching the enlightenment is the same, but it is very simple to do. This method is free of all confusion, you don't have to think of too many things, and it exactly tells you how to do it.

And it says it is rich in methods and without difficulties. So you see there are different methods of practicing, many methods of practicing, many deities. It is not difficult to do, you don't need so many things, visualizing all kinds of things, it has many methods and it's not difficult.

Then it says it is for those with sharper faculties, for those who are higher in realization, that's why we are here, associated to Vajrayana practice. If your realization is not on a certain level, then you wouldn't be here today, you would not understand Vajrayana, what it says, the concept, you would not agree with it, but you are here today listening to this because, as I said, in previous countless lifetimes you have had a certain connection to this. Through that, developing of your wisdom, today, here you are, and you can understand what Vajrayana is. This is how even the level of your understanding is also greater. Compared to others it does not mean that others are inferior. This level is of course more profound, because, as I said, it can take you to enlightenment much faster if you practice it in a proper way, it is more special in that way, otherwise it does not say the others are worse, because they reach the same goal.

Buddha turned the wheel of dharma three times. Even in the first two wheel's practice, at the end they will come to the Vajrayana, it is not totally free of that. They are going through longer method, but they will come to the realization of the same thing. For example in the Vajrayana, the most important is the bodhicitta. Then through many methods you understand the realization. In the first yana you want attainment of enlightenment for yourself, for yourself, not for others. You realize the suffering and you don't want to suffer anymore, so you develop the will of being free from suffering. For that purpose you practice, to free yourself from suffering. And as you develop in that, then you realize bodhicitta; that will come along with the practice slowly. To attain enlightenment bodhicitta is a must, without bodhicitta attainment of enlightenment is not possible.

So again it is said in Vajrayana practice we have so many methods, so many ways of accumulation of merit. For example you just take the example of offerings, you can offer through so many things, materially you can offer, mentally also you can offer, that's called yid chi chöpa, offering by visualizing the best things around, the best thing possible. And there has to be countless [offerings], because everything is actually limitless, we have made it limited because we are so limited, in the relative world we are so limited. But that is why everything is so limited. Actually ultimately, everything is limitless, so in your thoughts also you make limitless offerings to the buddhas and bodhisattvas, this kind of offering is accumulation of merit. There are so many methods of accumulation of merit.

And then you gain understanding through those methods, understanding everything as perception. You practice, get used to that, and use that as a method of practice to realize the ultimate, so this method you apply, you don't have to go through too much of difficulties. If you can, you can leave everything and go into jungle to practice, but it doesn't say that without doing that you cannot practice Vajrayana. There are different methods, plenty of methods, so it is not that difficult to practice.

So now, understanding the quality of Vajrayana method, vajra itself means diamond. Diamond, why? Because diamond is the strongest stone, it can cut through anything, so the same way Vajrayana method is very strong like a diamond, it can cut through all obstacles, it can cut through anything that obstructs, and then diamond is the hardest, so it cannot be destroyed by anything else. In the same way Vajrayana method cannot be destroyed by anything, if you practice it the proper way, that is why it says vajra, Vajrayana.

And then, now when you listen to any teaching, instruction, your guru, the lama from whom you are receiving it, you have to visualize him as the Buddha, embodiment of all buddhas and bodhisattvas Then the particular practice, if you receive… let's say if you receive the practice of Guru Padmasambhava, then you visualize him as Guru Padmasambhava. This is if you do a particular practice. But seeing the lama as the embodiment of all buddhas and bodhisattvas, this is very important. So the lama is not an impure, limited being there but limitless, enlightened being, that kind of visualization is important.

The body of the lama is also the embodiment of the sangha. His speech is dharma and his thought we call it the essence, it's the form of buddhas. So he/she is the embodiment of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, the Three Jewels, to whom you take refuge.

And then yourself, you don't see yourself as impure being but as pure. For example while doing the practice of Avalokiteshvara, you yourself are as one with Avalokiteshvara, no difference. That kind of visualization is very important.

And also all the surrounding is not like this, limited, all surrounding is limitless, the pure land of the great bliss for example, everything is a pure land. So you are in a pure land and everything is pure, you are limitless, the deity which you are practicing, and then you are also receiving the teaching from the limitless Buddha, this kind of thing is very important. Why? Because that's the real state, the true nature of us, we are all limitless actually, ultimately we are all Buddha, so this is what we are, but because of our ignorance, because of our defilements we haven't realized that, and that is why we are limited. So this is what Vajrayana practice is, it teaches us that through practice of this we realize this, the ultimate state of us, which is limitless. But of course, just by saying we are limitless we don't become limitless, because we have been so much tied to all this limited view relatively. Through practice, slowly, slowly you will realize that, and while practicing you should have this kind of visualization, in any practice that you do.

Again another example of why all beings are limitless, why all beings are positive. All of us like good things to ourselves, all beings want happiness for themselves, nobody want anything bad to themselves, so that also shows, good means something positive, bad means something negative, and we are always towards the positive side. That already shows the nature that it is positive, it's not negative, even this shows it.

In the text it is also said that all sentient beings are limitless, they are Buddha, but they haven't realized that. Why? Because it is covered with ignorance, it is covered with the defilements and ignorance, so that is why they haven't realized that, that is why they are not Buddha. They haven't realized that, but when they realize that, then they are what they are, they are Buddha, so this is what is says.

For example let's say a diamond. Diamond's actual nature is very shiny, it's a diamond, it is pure. But then when you first get it, it is covered [by mud], it is just a stone, so its true nature is pure, but you cannot say it is pure, you cannot see that when it's covered, so you have to polish it, you have to cut it etc,. and then after all that is done, then you can see the true diamond. So in the same way us also, we know the true essence of us is Buddha, but we cannot just go around saying we are Buddha, because we haven't realized that. It is easy to say we are Buddha, but we haven't really realized that. We might say it through words, I understand and you think you are realized, but that's not the case, we haven't realized that, so how we realize that is through practice. Through practice you'll be free of your defilements, be free of your ignorance, then that is how you realize it properly, truly you realize that, so through that when you realize it, then it becomes the real realization of your true nature. This is what enlightenment is.

So when you reach that state, then there's no more suffering, because suffering is also something that is your presumption, something that you have created, so when you realize that, then there's no suffering, then you are free of suffering, there's no more suffering.

So this is the true realization of emptiness, what emptiness is, this kind of thing is emptiness. Not that the glass is empty of water, that empty becomes empty in the sense that we have called something empty, so this is not the emptiness that we are talking about. We are talking about the fact that everything is interdependent, everything is your own perception, so in that sense nothing is independent as it is there, that kind of emptiness.

When you understand this, then emptiness is not so difficult matter. We say everything is empty, emptiness, this is empty and that is empty, we say everything is empty. People wonder how it can be empty, you see everything there, so relatively it is there, ultimately it is not there, it is empty, so that way empty. Again empty does not mean it is not there, because it is there, you cannot say it is not there, but the true nature is empty, what we call this or that, that is something that's our presumption, so that is emptiness. This is the right attitude you should have while practicing.

Secondly there is the right conduct. In the right conduct, there are certain things that you have to avoid while practicing. They are called the three defects of a pot.

For example when a pot is upside down, no matter how much water or tea you pour in it, it will never be filled. Because it is upside down, the water will not go inside the cup, and it cannot be filled. The same way, if you come here, sit here, but don't listen to what is being said, then no matter how much you sit here in the room, it's of no use, because it is not going to go into your head, it cannot benefit you, so that is one defect you should avoid.

The second defect is a pot which it is kept open, fine, but it has a crack or a hole, so that is a defect of a pot again. So in that kind of a pot, no matter how much you pour water, yes it will go in, it will go in since it is kept upright, but it is not going to be filled. All the water is going to leak out. So in the same way, you come to a dharma session, you listen to the dharma, fine, it will go in here, but if you do not contemplate on it, if you do not think about it, then the minute you go out of this room, it's gone, it is no more there with you, so it cannot benefit you. Only listening, listening is not going to benefit you. No matter how much you listen to it, no matter how much time you spend of your life listening to dharma teachings, if you do not keep it in your mind, it is of no use. If you do not practice it, it is of no use. It cannot be of any use, it will go waste, during this lifetime you will hear a lot and then when it's over, it's of no use. So it should not be like that, after you listen to it, you should practice it. Practicing is very important, without practicing it cannot make any difference to your mind. In order to subdue your mind you have to practice the matters, so practice is important, not only listening. This is the second defect that you should avoid.

And the third defect is when you have a pot which is free of previous defects, but the pot is dirty, or there is poison in it. Even if you put water in it, you cannot drink, because the defect of dirtiness or poison is there. Anyone who drinks that will be killed. So even while practicing you come here, you listen to it, you keep it in your mind, fine, but if it is for worldly purposes, for gaining fame, for gaining wealth, for gaining of all these kinds of things, or even worse, for harmful actions towards others, if you have that kind of intention and want to use dharma for that, then it is not going to help you. It is going to take you even more backwards. If you don't know what dharma is and do wrong things, then you don't know it, but when you know and yet do wrong things, then it is worse, because you should know better. So after knowing it, now if you do all the negative actions, then it has worse effects. That's why this is the worst thing you can do and you should avoid it. Your practice should not be with any of these kinds of intentions which are not going to benefit you, which are defects, it should be free of these.

Another thing to give up is pride. You should always examine yourself and try not to associate things with your pride, because when you want something out of pride, it is for the wrong reason, for your ego. Along with that it brings suffering when something doesn't happen, then you have great suffering. There's never end to our pride and there is always something else coming up, you want more than that, so there's never end to that, that's also suffering. This should be avoided.

And then, when you're receiving a teaching, thinking you know more than another person is pride. Or anything else like that, not only while receiving a teaching but with anything you do, thinking you know more than the other side, that is pride, so when you have that, how can you learn the good side of the other? You cannot learn anything then, because you have blocked the gate of knowledge to learn more, you have blocked that gate, so you cannot learn anything, and how can you improve after that? So it should be open, you should not have pride.

And then, faith is very important, you should have pure faith. Now you understand for example the taking refuge to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. We say you should not practice buddhism just like that, without thinking, no one forces you to become a buddhist. When you want to practice buddhism and you want to be a buddhist or anything, you should first see the quality, you should check, you should see whether it is good, whether you really think it makes sense, and when you are hundred percent sure that it makes sense, that it is beneficial for others, for yourself, then, through this kind of confidence you develop great respect for the Three Jewels. And when you develop this kind of confidence, then you go for refuge to these Thee Jewels. Through this kind of great respect, through realizing the qualities it becomes indestructible faith. Nothing can come in between you and your faith, your faith will not be momentary, this kind of faith you should have.

When you believe through examining everything, you have a good faith. You don't follow anything just blindly but examine. Of course there has to be an end to your thoughts, thoughts are thoughts, it goes on and on, you can go on with your thoughts, it will never come to an end if you keep on going. So at a certain point you have to realize that and then and then [believe]. This kind of faith is very important.

Effort is also important. Without effort, nothing is possible. To have great amount of effort is very important. For example even great masters like Milarepa, how much effort he had to put in, in order to realize what he realized, so much effort. His teacher did not give him teachings straight away, it wasn't so easy, he had to go through so much of difficulty, and his teacher made him to do so many things, but he did not give up, he did all that. He was asked to build a house for his teacher Marpa. Actually Marpa asked him to build a house for his son, so he built that house. He had orders to build a nine-floor house, and he was half way building that house, when Marpa came one day to see the house. He had used big stones. Marpa asked: "Where did you get the stones from?" Milarepa said he got the stones from a certain place. I think then Marpa said something like: "I never told you to get stones from there, demolish the whole thing, take it back, and put each piece there where you brought it from." So he had to demolish the whole thing.

Again he started another day, he built more, and then again Marpa came and said something else, and again he had to demolish the whole thing. Many times he had to do that until finally it was built. And he was alone, he couldn't receive any help from others, so he had to go through lot of physical difficulty at that time. Yet, finally, when he went to Marpa to receive teaching, Marpa did not give him the whole teaching but said: "How can you think receiving a teaching is so easy, how can you think you get it so easily?" And then he again chased him out, so that way he had to go through many difficulties.

In the same way things were with Tilopa and Naropa. Once Naropa went to Tilopa to ask for a teaching. They were on a walk and then Tilopa asked Naropa to jump off from a great height. Naropa had so much faith in Tilopa that he just jumped off, and you can imagine falling from a few storey building, how it will be, but his faith was very pure. He wasn't dead although everything was broken, so Tilopa went down and asked him, still he asked him: "How are you?" How angry Naropa could have been, he jumped from there and everything was broken and still someone asked him, how he was. He said: "Oh, I'm in pain and I'm more or less dead." That is how he got his name, Na-ro-pa, na means pain, ro means a dead body, pa means person, so he got that name from there, he had to go through so much of difficulty, so much effort to receive the precious dharma. In the same way even Buddha had to go through great difficulties in his previous lives to receive dharma. And in the same way, if you want to learn something, it doesn't come easily, you have to put great effort in it. That's why effort is very important.

For little, little things, like happiness in this lifetime, just this lifetime, we work so hard, we go so early in our office, we come back so late, we work so hard, we don't have time to spend with our children, we don't have time to enjoy the nature, we don't have much time, everyone is becoming so busy nowadays, there is so much commitment for little things like that. Now imagine this thing, which can give you liberation, which can free you from all suffering eternally, for ever, how much effort you think you'll have to put in? The effort should be greater, there should be great effort put in there.

Of course I'm not saying you should jump off a house [roof] or something like that, I'm not saying that you should do these kinds of things, but there should be some effort every day in your practice. You should practice, without practice you will not realize, there's no way. No matter how much you listen, no matter how much you write, it's not going to benefit you, so you have to practice that what you write, what you learn, you have to practice that, there should be certain effort given to practice so that you move forward. Maybe if you could make the effort that Marpa, Mila, they made, you could move much faster, maybe with our effort we cannot move at that pace, but we can move, so we must give some effort to our practice.

Then you should avoid, be careful of outward distractions, Lots of distractions are there, so you should be careful of these distractions.

Here again, there are very nice examples given, so I will give you the examples from here. It gives examples of these six senses, the touch, smell, sight and so on, distractions through these six senses, very nice examples.

Because everything is an illusion, if you get too distracted by that, then it can destroy you. When you get too engrossed in this illusion, because it is ignorance, then through the ignorance you can get destroyed, so that is why you should not get distracted with all the outer distractions, you should know that.

It says, like a moth, through sight he gets distracted towards the flame of the fire. So he comes closer and closer, he's so distracted that he goes into it and then he dies, it destroys him. So even through sight – this is a very nice example. Of course you can use another example also, day-to-day examples.

For example let's say mountain climbing, you go, you like mountain climbing because when you reach the top of the mountain, you are above everything. You like the sight, so you climb, and then through that climbing something goes wrong, you die, while climbing that mountain, dangerous. So this is also a kind of it.

Of course, with respect to the mountaineers, because I like mountaineering, I've done that in the past, maybe with care they take these days [it's okay], but if you really look into it, it is something that's not needed, you have this precious life, why to waste it, why take chances over this life, make the best use of this life instead.

The next example is for the hearing, hearing sense. It gives an example of a deer. When there is a nice sound of the nature or a nice music playing, it becomes very attentive to this music, the beautiful sound, and then it gets carried away with that sound and is not aware of the surrounding. Then the hunter can hunt the deer, and the deer is an easy prey in that kind of a surrounding. It is too distracted by sounds, that's one kind of obstruction.

And then let's say there are some of us who love music very much. Liking music is okay, listening to it, but there's some who just do nothing but just listen to music, in life they do nothing but just listen, listen, and then they just waste their life like that. You can do so many other productive things, but they just do that, so this is also a waste of life.

Then scent, the sense of smell. There are some flowers which are very beautiful, nice to smell and they attract bees but there are some living flowers I think, when the bees come in them they just eat the bee, so that kind of flowers I think there are, an example of that is given.

And I think there are some substances through smell of which you get a certain feeling and then you get addicted to these, so that destroys your life, too. Here also through senses you get obstructed.

And then through your sense of taste, or it says an example of a fish and a bate; for the sake of eating (the taste) it goes and eats the bate and then it gets caught in the bate and dies, that kind of thing is given for an example. And then drinking of alcohol, all these kind of things, it's for your taste, you like the taste, you get addicted, and if you get addicted, then it destroys your life. That's also a part of this.

For touch an example of an elephant is given. I think they like the touch of mud, so they go and play there, and then when they indulge in that too much, without taking care, then some might get sunken into mud and lose their life. That is also one kind of example that is given. For us, let's keep it very simple, if you like very expensive clothes, you like the feel of it, and when you get too indulged in that, to get very expensive things you need money. When you are not able to make that, then you have lots of sufferings. In order to get that money, if you take all sorts of means, and harm many people. So through that you are developing your defilements. In that way it can harm. Because you use the six senses everywhere, you can use examples of anything, they are related to everything.

Now mentally also, inwardly thinking also, again for example it says not to follow our tendencies of the past. We always do that, if we don't examine ourselves, we are always thinking of the past, "I should have done this, I should have done that". If you think too much of that, what is the good of it? You cannot change the past, it is out of your control. It's a waste, so you should not do that.

Then it says not to entertain emotions about the future. We always think about the future, too: "I will do this, I will do that. If I do this, this will happen, if I do that, that will happen, I want that, I want this." All this is future; we are planning for the future all the time. Of course we need to think about the future roughly, but it means you should not get too engrossed in that, so that rules your life, because how do you know you are going to experience that future? You never know whether you are going to take the next breath. What guarantee there is that you are going to live tomorrow, what guarantee there is? So that is why great practitioners in the past in Tibet, when they went to sleep in the night they used to get everything ready, put their mugs upside down, they used to act like they would not get up next morning, that kind of practice they used to do. We keep things half done, things for tomorrow, taking for granted that we will be there tomorrow, but they used to do like that as a practice, practice impermanence.

You never know whether you will get up or not. What is the use of thinking of the future, which you don't have any control over? So again, I said, nowadays, of course it doesn't mean you don't think of anything and then you'll end in nowhere, I don't mean that kind of thing, but you shouldn't get too engrossed in that, that it ruins your life and makes you miserable. The future is not in your control. When you think of too many things about the future, and then something else happens, you are totally discouraged, you are totally ruined by that. That won't happen if you don't have so many expectations about the future. That is why future is future, you should not be so engrossed in the future.

The only time you have control over is now, the present. So don't waste this, don't be distracted by other things, be mindful in the present, the thing which you have control over, be mindful. This is what it means.

But all this also, ultimately it is not there. Relatively it is there, so relatively you have to be mindful in that way. Ultimately, there is no thing as present. When you think this is present, the present means future which is gone, future means present, so there is nothing as present, future, past, nothing is there. But relatively it is there, past is past, future is future, we emphasize more the present, what we are doing now, so it is important. Being mindful means that. Always you should be mindful.

Mindfulness is not difficult. Anything you do, being aware of it, that is mindfulness. When you are aware of it, then for example, now you know that positive actions create positive results, negative actions create negative results. No one wants negative things, everyone wants happiness for themselves and for others. Same way suffering, just as yourself, no one wants it. So now, mindful means you know, you are aware of what causes suffering and what causes happiness. According to that, you are always aware and when you are about to harm someone, you will know that the result will be harmful, so you will not do that. So this is day-to-day mindfulness that you can practice.

For example, if you are mindful, and you want something badly, let's give an example again about the car. You want a car, which is very, very expensive, which you cannot afford. That brings great suffering, because you cannot have that car. If you are mindful, you will think about what's the use of suffering with that, what's the use of being so much into it, instead you realize that the main purpose of the car is to take you from place to place, and your car is doing it, so why do you suffer so much with that. That is being mindful, through being mindful your suffering becomes less. Mindfulness you can use anywhere, just being aware of what is, aware of the state in which you are – that is awareness.

I'll tell you a very simple practice for being mindfulness. First we are just not breathing.

We breathe every day, if we do not breathe, we die. Yet, are we ever mindful of our breath? We aren't, we don't even think of this breathing. So that is how not mindful we are. So sit there every day for a short time, visualize how the air is going into you, how it is filling your lungs, how it is coming out. This process of taking in, staying there, then again coming out, pausing, this is happening all the time, all the time you are breathing. It's happening, but we don't know that. We know that, but we are not aware of it.

So that is a practice of mindfulness. Think of this clearly, think of breathing, do twenty-one times breathing in, pause for some time, breathe out. Pause doesn't mean difficulty when you pause, every breath has that, you take it in, then it pauses for some time, then it comes out, pauses for some time, goes in, pauses for some time, comes out, pauses for some time. So this is how the breathing graph looks like, but if we are not mindful we don't see that.

Actually pause doesn't mean you have to try holding it there by pulling fully, before you take it out, that gap is there. So when you do it slowly, it is very calm. So you do that practice every day, nine times to start with, then twenty-one times. Twenty-one times being mindful is very difficult to breathe, so you do nine times. When you do that very slowly it comes out gently, the motion should be very gentle, not fast, it should go very slowly, that's how it is.

Through that your mind calms down also. It calms you totally, this is shinay, one level of shinay practice, that is being mindful, shinay means being mindful, this is one basic practice. Try to do that every day, in the morning, whenever you can, just do that little, little, nine times, that's comfortable. Do it twenty-one times, so that way you do it, odd numbers. There's some reason for that, I don't know why.

Let's dedicate the merit that we have accumulated through countless lifetimes in the past, and then the lifetimes that we will have in the future, especially this lifetime, and especially today by listening to this particular teaching, all this merit, may we dedicate it to all beings to attain realization.

Transcription: Eeva Andersson