You are always with your practice
by His Holiness the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje
I would like to say is that people definitely have to work and support themselves. When you have the enlightened attitude you have a responsibility to the people around you, to your country. You care about them. You are always with your practice. You are inseparable from it. You seize opportunities to benefit others and you will benefit others in whatever way you can.
You have been in this country. You were born in this country. Many people who will read this, are from families that have been here for generations. This country has been an important place for you. You have to offer respect for your grandparents and you must live a decent life, a dignified life that upholds the traditions of your ancestors, that meets the approval of society, your parents and yourself. If you are really going to serve this country and help its people, this seems like a reasonable way, rather than belonging to this party and that party, and getting involved in this competition and that competition, and all kinds of politics. As practitioners of the Dharma we don’t have to deny politics and reject politics, but we don’t have to play those games, either. It is not necessary. It is not important. It is not needed.
If you are working, may be in a hospital, you can see how you might have the opportunity and responsibility to help people. In the same way, what ever work you have taken, there are definitely people that you can benefit. So you should serve your people, serve your country, not expecting your country to serve you. And that’s the part of the practice of the Dharma. Not working is not taking responsibility.
If you are practitioner of the Mahayana teachings, that means you have something to be proud of, something to be worthy of, something to be descent for. But many people go around like some kind of outcast, in rags, with long hair, unwashed, as if you are a drug addict or something. This is not the proper way to present yourself. You are not maintaining your respect, you are not respecting Dharma that you are practicing, and you are not creating the proper outlook that the excellent Dharma is worthy of.
This is the message to the practitioners of Dharma that they must be dignified internally as well as externally, and their internal dignity must reflect outwardly also. We are not some drug addicts. Wearing the descent clothes, and being a descent human being, and serving your country, your people, serving the Dharma, and also yourself, being a self-respectful person is the Dharma path. How are you to benefit beings by looking as if you are completely discarded from the society?
By exposing that appearance, you are not taking the responsibility or you are not reflecting the enlightened attitude. If you are practicing the enlightened attitude, you should naturally be able to attract people so that when people see you, they might think, “Yes, these people definitely seem to be descent people, I think I could relate to them, and could ask something of these people. They might even be able to help me.” So in this way, you appear capable of giving help, or, at least capable of giving some directions to them for the help.
We are proud of ourselves as examples of the Dharma. If you are going around in rags, not taking care of your body, and going in the world like a misfit, it makes a very bad impression of that Dharma Center that you are involved with, and also as a person of this country, which means that you bring disrespect and a bad impression to this country and it’s people.
These are certain points that before I leave, I would like to offer to people so that they can use it. I hope that whoever hears these words, whether you are a Dharma practitioner or not, or whether you have entered into Buddhism or not, I hope that it will make some sense to you. It comes sincerely and truly, not with any put-on, or masquerade or diplomacy, but truly-straight and clean.
With integrity and sincerity you can serve beings, and as you work in the Dharma, you will serve many beings. And that is the greatness of the Mahayana teachings and practice. You don’t have to be a drop out from the country, the society or family. You are not. Cause, you have dignity.
Omniscience comes about through the elimination of the afflictive and the epistemic obscuration. Here, the afflictions are passion and so on. They are called the afflictive obscuration because they block the vision of what is real. And when a person sees the reality of that which is to be abandoned and that which is to be taken up but does not know it in all of its aspects and is not capable of explaining it to others, that is the epistemic obscuration. In that case, because one has directly realised selflessness, there is the elimination of the afflictive obscuration. But the [elimination] of the epistemic obscuration for one who has seen selflessness comes about through the intensive, continuous, and long-term cultivation [of that realisation].
1.1 不管是靜止不動的物件：如建築物、用具它的建立與作為，因人而異，因為時代的轉變，才有新建與淘汰的轉變，這種轉變是讓我們理解萬物皆無常的道理：有成必有住、有住必有壞、有壞必成空。在這種種的過程中， 就因為被眼睛所看見而清楚記在腦意識中或在歷史的記載中而獲取的訊息，明白無常的道理，不再計較事物的好與壞，輕安而居，煩惱自然息滅。
1.2 或是漂浮不定的人與事：在眼前所出現的人與事，那一個是永遠不變的道理，今天的喜、 怒、哀、樂。明天的悲、歡、离、合。万事求不得的苦。甚至有生必有老、有老必有病、有病必有死。以上種種的感覺清楚的被記在腦意識中，讓我們更了解人生的無常，而更珍惜眼前的人與事，不再計較他人的過錯，和睦相處，伸出援手。自己有錯必改，他人有缺，定當幫助其改過自新，讓他朝向健康的大道前進，何樂而不為呢？
在明白了以上的道理，自己會更珍惜眼前的家人、 朋友、同事、鄰居，甚至曾經與自己有過磨擦的 夙敵。因為之前自己在處理事物時，都是以不平等的心態對待他人，斤斤計較，嫌東嫌西，不在呼他人的感受，讓對方產生莫名的煩惱與怨恨， 日以累積，而造成對方的種種傷害，間接的也傷害到了自己，怨親的對付，夙敵的破壞，人事的改變，雖然有錢、有權、有身份、有地位，卻活得不開心病苦纏身，煩惱重重，何樂之有？
唯以真誠的心態、平等的對待、歡喜的接待、恭敬的禮待、用心的盡責、互相的幫助。不再計較、 不再仇恨、不再傷害、不再妄語、不再兩舌、不再惡口、不再綺語。心相轉向智慧，就有如雨過 天晴，日日皆好日，年年皆好年，何樂而不為呢？
從此行在自在中，不再有仇惱、不再有迷惑、不 再有貪欲、不再有嗔恚、不再有愚癡。在家庭， 負起自己的責任，照顧好父母。夫妻間，要互相體諒與恩愛。兄弟姐妹間，要互相尊重與和氣。 對儿女，要負起養育与教育之心，讓他們得到健康與安心的成長。
因為自己已經遠離了邪見，(種種之前所建立起的錯誤觀念)而有了正确的方向，不再制造苦惱，覺 知：善有善報、惡有惡報，不是不報、時辰未到， 遠離因果輪迴的束縛，何樂而不為呢？
The basic nature of our mind is essentially good. The Buddha taught that all beings are buddhas covered by momentary obscuration; when those obscurations are removed, they are real buddhas. The true identity of every sentient being, not just human beings, is a state of unconditioned suchness. This is the basic nature as it is, pure and perfect. We have an inherent capacity to care for others and to understand; it is not a product of education or upbringing. To practise the dharma means simply to develop and nurture these intrinsic qualities. That is our task, our responsibility.
— Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche
To Practice Mindfulness Is to Return to Life
by Thich Nhat Hanh
To practice mindfulness is to become alive. Life is so precious, yet in our daily lives we are carried away by our forgetfulness, anger and worries. We are often lost in the past, unable to touch life in the present moment. When we are truly alive, everything we touch or do is a miracle. To practice mindfulness is to return to life in the present moment.
Practicing mindfulness, we see the suffering that is caused by the destruction of life everywhere, and we vow to cultivate compassion and use it as a source of energy to protect the lives of people, animals, plants and minerals. When we see suffering, compassion is born in us. It reflects the Buddha’s first sermon, that we have to be in touch with suffering.
It can be said that there are two kinds of suffering. Perhaps ninety-five percent of the suffering we endure every day is not at all necessary. Because of our lack of insight, we cause suffering to ourselves and others, including our beloved ones. But the remaining five percent is born out of contact with the real suffering around us and inside of us. To be aware of this kind of suffering brings about compassion, the energy necessary to transform ourselves and help relieve the suffering of the world.
Do not lose awareness of the suffering that is going on in the world. Nourish that kind of awareness by whatever means possible: images, direct contact, visits, and so on. We have to do that in order to keep both the awareness of the suffering and compassion alive in us. But experiencing too much suffering is not good. Any medicine must be taken in the proper dosage. We need to stay in touch with suffering only to the extent that we will not forget. Then compassion will flow within us and be a source of energy that we can transform into action.
People often use their anger at social injustice as a basis for action, but that is unwise. When you are angry you are not lucid, and you can do many harmful things. According to Buddhism, the only source of energy that can be useful is compassion, because it is safe. When you have compassion, your energy is born from insight. It is not blind energy. With compassion, we practice in order to learn ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals. Just feeling compassion is not enough. If we do not know how to help, we can do damage. That is why love must go together with understanding.
Virtue and non virtue depend on the intention within the mind. Virtue is not necessarily determined by outer action because to practice dharma means to purify the mind. If you upholds mindfulness and care at all times then whatever you do will be dharma. Non distraction is the path of all Buddhas. It itself is the Buddha. Mindfulness is the actual Buddha.
— Garchen Rinpoche
The Perfection of Enthusiastic Effort
by Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo
The fourth paramita is that of viriya, which means perseverance or enthusiastic effort. We all appreciate that if we want to succeed in any skill we first have to practice. I knew a young boy in Australia who from early youth deeply loved the guitar: classical and Spanish guitar. Even as a young schoolboy, he would practice many hours every day on his guitar. Now as an adult he is a brilliant guitarist who wins many competitions. The point is that, although he had a natural talent for music and he loved the guitar, nonetheless he still had to practice.
If we want to be a footballer or engage in any kind of sports, or to become a dancer or a computer expert or anything at all, we need to practice. Even if one has a natural talent, one still has to repeat the same exercises over and over and over until they become spontaneous. If we can accept this about mastering a physical skill, why do we sometimes imagine that, on a spiritual path where basically we have to completely rework our own mind, somehow it’s just going to happen automatically?
Nowadays, it’s popular in certain spiritual circles to say: “Oh well we already have everything, so there’s nothing to be done. We already are Buddha, so therefore we don’t need to do anything.” This is why sometimes Dzogchen and Mahamudra are popular. People think: “Oh, you just sit and there you are. You have nothing to do. You just have to be.” But do we realise the difficulty of just being? It probably takes years and years of effort to become effortless. It’s like professional musicians who spend years and years practicing and practicing until finally the music plays through them. But we can’t just sit down and expect that to happen without putting in so much time for just practice. When we see great musicians playing it looks completely effortless as if they’re not doing anything and just the music is pouring through their fingers. But we know how many hours everyday for so many years, they have dedicated to being able to appear so effortless!
There is a story in our Drukpa Kagyu tradition of a ‘crazy’ yogin called Drukpa Kunley. One time he went to Lhasa and visited the main temple called the Jokhang. The principal statue in the temple is a statue of Shakyamuni Buddha called the Jowo Rinpoche which is said to represent Shakyamuni Buddha as a youth. So then Drukpa Kunley bowed down and he said to the Buddha: “Okay, you and I started out at the same time. You became a Buddha and here I am still stuck in samsara! What’s the difference between us? The difference is that you made efforts and I was lazy!”
The reason we’re all sitting here in samsara is because we’re lazy. Of course we must have done something right and made some efforts in past lives, otherwise we would not have an interest and connection with the Dharma now. But the point is that although we have this tremendous potential for realisation because that is our true nature. Nonetheless, unless from our side we take the Dharma and put it at the centre of our hearts, at the centre of our lives, nothing much will change, nothing will transform.
People complain that they would like to practice, but they have no time. This is one of the reasons why I chose to talk about the Paramitas — generosity, discipline, patience, effort, meditation and wisdom — because not only do these bodhisattva virtues comprise the path to Buddhahood, but they are our own intrinsic qualities which we need to develop in our daily lives. So therefore we must not think that Practice is only when we are sitting on our meditation cushion or when we come to a Centre to listen to Dharma talks or when we are doing our rituals, and so the rest of our daily life is just so much worldly activity. Because if we make this separation, then the time we give to the Dharma is so tiny, while the time which we are caught up in worldly distractions is so great.
But if we think of our Dharma perception, our understanding of the Dharma as like yeast, then we mix that yeast with the heavy dough of our worldly life and it will rise up and the whole of that dough will become light and nourishing. Instead of being a big indigestible lump, the dough rises up and we bake it and it is delicious! This is so important. Everything that we do, if we do it with awareness and kindness, if we really use all our experiences as an opportunity to bring into play the various principles of the Dharma which we have heard and read about, if we really use our daily life as a practice, then everything is transformed.
It doesn’t matter how many great Lamas we meet, how many wonderful teachings we hear, how much inspiration we gain from others, in the end it depends on ourselves, what we do with our lives, what we do with our own mind.
So this question of effort and perseverance doesn’t mean a kind of heaviness and panting exertion that tires us out. It’s not a joyless doggedness. When we’re doing something we really love, it doesn’t seem difficult at all. It seems easy because we have so much joy in doing it. The Dharma should be a cause of joy. It’s like any activity: if we really enjoy doing it, then even though we devote such a lot of time and energy to it, it doesn’t tire us. So if we see that everything in our lives — our family life, our time with our friends, our colleagues and society in general is our Dharma practice, and everything that happens to us is our opportunity to learn and develop — then what seemed like a pretty dull, boring, pointless existence is transformed into something profound and meaningful!
Our lives can have meaning for us. It’s so important to realise that this particular human birth is our great opportunity and we won’t probably get it again if we waste the chance now. This is the opening. No great master is going to come along and click his fingers and we’re just going to get it. It doesn’t work like that. Even if we are fortunate enough to experience a glimpse of the true state, it still needs so much time and practice to stabilise this understanding. Even if the Lord Buddha himself was sitting in front of you, all he could say would be: “Practice.”
Many of the Buddha’s disciples were ordinary people — they weren’t all monks and nuns. They were kings, businessmen, farmers and housewives. In fact it’s noticeable if we read the early Sutras, how much time the Buddha actually spent around towns, talking with ordinary people and encouraging them to transform their lives. They didn’t all become monks. They just used his teachings in their daily lives and attained very high levels of realisation. So if we use our everyday lives as our spiritual practice, things will definitely change. Then our biggest problems will become our greatest opportunities.