A mind at peace, a life at peace
by Venerable Sheng Yen

Back in 2008, everyone anticipated a difficult year for 2009. We’re facing challenging times; the global economy is in bad shape. But we have great hopes for the year 2009. We still see hope when there seems to be none. Even under harsh conditions, we can still find happiness. In doomed times, it’s up to us to create bliss for ourselves. I proposed that we must have peace of mind in order to have peace in our lives. But how? Feelings of unease are merely psychological sentiments. It’s the external factors that cause us to feel insecure in the first place. We must feel secure in order for us to have peace in our lives.

As long as we have a sense of security, we’ll be able to enjoy peace in our lives. And how is having a peaceful mind related to a peaceful life? When we have peace of mind, no matter how chaotic our external environment is, we won’t be affected at all. It’s like when it’s pouring rain outside, it’s really pointless to fret over the rain. Instead, we should be figuring out how to get the leaks in our house fixed. To find ways in which we can still go about our daily business despite the heavy rain. To think about what we can plant that will bloom in the rain. To find fun things we can do on a rainy day.

This is how we can gain peace, by first having a peaceful mind. Though rain is never welcomed, as long as we’re feeling at peace, even if it does rain, we can still feel very happy and blessed. The concept of “A Mind at Peace, A Life at Peace” is based on this rationale. And hence, I proposed that with a peaceful mind, we’d have peace in our lives. The launching of the suicide prevention movement was also built on this premise. As long as we have hope, and we don’t feel a void in our hearts, but feel free from anxiety, regardless of how materially impoverished or how bad the circumstances are, we can still feel whole inside.

Don’t let disappointment get the better of us, let hope live in our hearts for always. And use this opportunity to share with others what our hopes are for the future. People’s basic need is to live and to survive. And as long as we’re still breathing, hope will always be around, and our minds can be at peace.

To sum up, we need to learn to face and accept any circumstance. Find ways to deal with it and then just let it go. When we can face our problems, accept our problems, deal with our problems, and then let go of them, we’ll have peace of mind. I believe a great deal of people already know what the Fivefold Spiritual Renaissance Campaign is. The central practice is facing the difficulty, accepting it, dealing with it and then letting go of it.

There’s also the Four Guidelines to Dealing with Desires which holds we should pursue only what we can acquire, and never pursue what we can’t acquire. Pursue only what we should acquire, and never pursue what we shouldn’t acquire. The truth is we need only very few things, we need only to eat, to keep ourselves warm, and to have a shelter to keep ourselves out of the rain and the scorching sun — that’s about it. We can do without a lot of other things. And so, if we learn to have fewer desires, and have big hopes for the future while keeping our desires in check, we will have happiness.

Two years ago we started advocating a campaign for suicide prevention. Suicide really is unnecessary; people don’t need to commit suicide. Fear, a sense of insecurity, disappointment and feelings of hopelessness are the contributing factors of suicide.

I hope everyone can bear in mind that peace in life goes hand in hand with peace of mind. You don’t have to commit suicide. Instead of always looking at the downside you should look on the bright side of things. On a rainy day, tell yourself that the rain will stop. On a windy day, remind yourself the wind will turn, and it will stop.

Typhoons and whatnot must all cease one day. In the darkness of the day, say to yourself the sun will still shine tomorrow. With this mindset, our hearts will always be filled with hope. When we have hope, we’ll have peace in our minds, and we’ll enjoy peace in our lives. Last but not least, I’d like to wish everyone a Happy New Year!

1 The “spirit” spoken of in the protection of the spiritual environment refers to the mind, which is the essence of the Buddhadharma. They are the protection of the spiritual environment; the protection of the social environment; the protecting the living environment; and the protection of the natural environment.

2 They are cultivating a peaceful mind by having few desires; cultivating a peaceful body through hard work and thrift; cultivating a peaceful family lies through love and respect; cultivating peaceful activity by being honest and upright.

3 The four guidelines are examining what we really need; what is indulgence; what is within my ability to obtain the things I need; and whether or not it’s proper to obtain it.

4 The Fivefold Spiritual Renaissance Campaign is a proposition for living in the 21st century and also a way to implement the four kinds of environmentalism.

5 Six Ethics campaign, which consists of Family Ethics, Living Ethics, School Ethics, Environmental Ethics, Workplace Ethics, and Ethics between Ethnic Groups. Within each of the different areas covered by the Six Ethics, each one of us plays not only a single role, but also actually multiple roles. Whatever roles we play, we should develop the correct concept: We should contribute ourselves for the sake of fulfilling our roles and responsibilities, instead of fighting for our interests; while seeking our own benefits we should respect others and care about them. Therefore, greed and fighting for gain are not in line with ethics; the value of ethics lies in serving and giving. We must bear this same concept in mind with any of the Six Ethics.

Trying to find a Buddha or enlightenment is like trying to grab space. Space has a name but no form. It’s not something you can pick up or put down. And you certainly can’t grab it. Beyond this mind you’ll never see a Buddha. The Buddha is a product of your mind. Why look for a Buddha beyond this mind?

— Bodhidharma

生命没有重复
达照法师

对生命负责的人,都是珍惜生命的人;珍惜生命的人,都会感受到生命中每一种情景出现全是唯一的一次,生命中没有任何一件事情是重复出现的!天天吃饭,天天喝水,天天走路,天天说话,都没有一次是重复的,每次都是唯一的经历,无始无终的形状,延续了我们的生生世世,可是那么新鲜稀有啊!

在学茶道的时候,我们特别欣赏茶道里那“一期一会”的精神,过去的一切都是历史的记忆,从来没有原原本本的再现过,未来的一切也是希望的幻想,从来没有提前或者如同幻想一般的呈现。因此,所有的理想都带着注释,一切的交往都是初逢!此时此刻,你是孤独的,其实任何时候你都是孤独的,因为你已经展现了生命中的全部景观,这个世界的任何一个微尘都是自己生命真相的显现,没有丝毫造作,全体即是,除此更无他物,所以你是孤独的。

然而,你也是从来就不曾孤独的,一切无相不生不灭的本体,与所有的生命一样一起不分彼此。在心灵中完全融合了彼此生命的所有形象,在物象上,一切都是相融相摄彼此相依,从未分离,所以一切都不孤独。世界同体、众心同体,生佛不二,身土不二,人我相类,灵肉相依,一切都不再是孤立的存在,何其完美!

孤独是因为生命不受任何事物干扰!不孤独是由于生命内在的和谐完美!除了这二者外,还有什么可以用来形容这不可思议无法形容的生命真相呢?青山无语,绿水常绕;天地不言,万物相依;人心不语,唯清唯善;真谛无语,起诸妙用!没有重复的生,日复一日,时复一时,分分秒秒,都在演绎着绝胜的美景!没有重复的死,无常变幻,春去秋来,成住坏空,都在展示着妙曼的诗情!

The past is already gone, the future is not yet here. There’s only one moment for you to live, and that is the present moment.

— The Buddha

Enlightenment in Female Form
by Gelek Rimpoche

I recently had the opportunity to speak at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City on the occasion of their exhibit Female Buddhas: Women of Enlightenment in Himalayan Art. I was happy to see this exhibit — the first of its kind, I believe — which focused on enlightenment in female form. It was long overdue, and I am grateful to the museum for providing such a wonderful show.

The fact that the show’s title included the word “female” makes it apparent that when we use the word “Buddha,” most people imagine a male figure. Although it is true that Buddhas can be male or female, it is also true that unless we say female, we assume it is male. That is our cultural baggage.

Buddhism arose in the East. And for most of the past 2,500 years, it has been part of the male-oriented culture of the East. It was that way in Buddha’s time in India, and it was that way in Tibet, where I was raised. But the culture in the West today is very different from traditional Asian culture. It’s clear to me that in this time and place, we need to emphasise the feminine principle. We live in a time when equality between men and women is increasing. If we cannot take advantage of this present situation to develop the feminine aspects of Buddhism and of our human nature, we will have missed an important opportunity.

The favouring of male practitioners did not originate in Tibet. We can see this bias throughout India and Asia. This is the cultural baggage I mentioned. It has nothing to do with the real essence of Buddhism. Women are as capable as men when it comes to spiritual practice. It is time for our tradition to reflect this reality more clearly. It is time for this imbalance to be acknowledged and corrected. There is no reason for this baggage to be carried forward. It does not serve the purpose of our times and has no special spiritual value. We need to do more than honour the feminine as a principle. We need to also encourage and support female practitioners.

In Tibetan Buddhism, we acknowledge Buddha Shakyamuni as the historical, or “official,” Buddha. But we also recognise the existence of countless other enlightened beings or Buddhas.

Tara is one of these enlightened beings in the female form. This is one of the reasons I have been doing Tara blessing ceremonies in different parts of the country lately. There is actually a long history of such blessings in Tibet. It’s not something I just cooked up. This type of blessing is called a gom lung, and it is a combination of meditation and oral transmission. By doing these activities, I hope to help bring the enlightened feminine presence forward.

Maybe I am not the best person for the job, because, ultimately, it is important for women to do this. But because of my background and training in Old Tibet, I feel that giving my support may be of some help.

WHO IS TARA?

We find images of Tara throughout Eastern culture, although she may be referred to by different names. In China, she is called Kuan Yin. In Japan, she is Kannon. In Tibet, we call her Drolma. Tara is her Sanskrit name. It means “one who liberates.” Tara is known as the “Mother of all Buddhas.” She is especially associated with long life and wisdom. And as a female manifestation of the enlightened energy, Tara is said to come to our aid quickly and powerfully.

In the West, we are familiar with Mother Mary, whose qualities of boundless compassion and love very much resemble those of Tara. So most of us have some familiarity with someone like Tara and the qualities she represents. She may have a different name or slightly different look in the way she is depicted here and there, but that merely indicates how popular and how necessary she is for us. We all recognise the need for caring and compassion. This is what Tara represents.

So where does Tara come from? What is she? How does she function? There are a number of stories by different masters, but the most reliable and commonly accepted source is The Origin of the Tara Tantra, written by Taranatha in the early seventeenth century. According to this text, Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of compassion, was very busy helping beings. But at one point, he was nearly overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task and the extent of the suffering that beings were experiencing. It is said that he became concerned to the point of shedding tears, saying, “I need help.” He took a teardrop and flung it away, and suddenly Tara appeared and said, “I am here to help you.”

It is also said that Tara was originally an actual human being, like us. She worked to develop herself, just as Buddha Shakyamuni did. As a Bodhisattva, she was committed to helping all beings. And as a Bodhisattva, she was able to choose the form of her rebirth. Tara chose to remain in the female form.

THE IMPORTANCE OF FEMININE ENERGY

Why did Tara choose to remain as a female? She chose to because of the importance of feminine energy and because a lot of cultures treat females as inferior, even though they are just as capable of enlightenment as males. At some point in world history, it was decided that the female body was inferior. It’s unfortunate, but that represented the thinking in those societies. That is why Tara made the decision to remain a female and function as an enlightened being in female form.

This is an important point and it gives us two different messages. One message is that compassionate people don’t shy away from difficult tasks. The other point is that the problems of human beings can only be solved by human beings. No god is going to come down from the sky and enlighten us. We have to do it ourselves. That is why Buddha said we are responsible for ourselves. For example, I believe the Tibetan problem has to be solved by the Tibetans; others can only help. Similarly, male problems can only be solved by men; women can only help. And female problems can only be solved by women; men can only help.

In Tibetan Buddhism, we recognise that enlightenment comprises both feminine and masculine aspects. We say that enlightenment is not possible without both wisdom and compassion, which we sometimes refer to as wisdom and method. Wisdom, or the recognition of emptiness, is connected with the feminine, because the empty nature of reality is the basis, or mother, of all. As the Heart Sutra says, form is emptiness, emptiness is form. In other words, there is no form or reality apart from emptiness. In that sense, emptiness is the mother of all. And wisdom, which is the recognition of this truth, is associated with emptiness. Accordingly, when we speak about the wisdom aspect of enlightenment, we associate this with the feminine principle.

And just as one can never produce a child without a mother, compassion without wisdom, no matter how strong your compassion, may not be enough to produce enlightenment.

FEMALE DEITIES

The feminine aspect of enlightenment is represented by female deities. We see female images at every level of Tibetan art. There are peaceful forms like Tara, semi-wrathful forms like Vajrayogini, and wrathful forms such as the female protector Palden Lhamo. Each of these has a male counterpart, because male and female aspects are both necessary for enlightenment. In fact, both are necessary throughout the spiritual path.

The union of masculine and feminine energies is key to our ultimate spiritual freedom. Without the male or female aspect, there is no enlightenment: there is no union of wisdom and method; there is no union of clear light and illusion body; there is no union of mind and body.

We can also see this combination of energies during the period of accumulating merit. There are two types of merit. Wisdom merit develops the mind of a Buddha, while the activities related to compassion, or method merit, develop the body of a Buddha. At the level of enlightenment, there is no longer a dualistic distinction between body and mind. You might say they both function at the same frequency. But we need both, and both aspects must be developed until we achieve enlightenment. Compassion and wisdom are the foundation of our spiritual work. They also bring the ultimate result. These depend on both male and female elements.

When you look at Buddhist practices as they have developed, they appear to favour the male practitioner. As I said before, these practices developed in male-dominated cultures. (For example, the word for “woman” in Tibetan means “lower birth.”) In Tibetan Buddhism, although both a male and a female deity practice are considered necessary for enlightenment, the male deities received more emphasis. The female deities such as Vajrayogini were kept very secret. In the monasteries, they didn’t want to encourage monks to meditate on the images of beautiful female figures. Having been a monk, I can understand that this could definitely have been a distraction! So to help uphold the monastic vows, the deities were mostly male.

THREE TARA PRACTICES

Tara is a Buddha herself and can fully serve as an object of refuge. The object of refuge doesn’t have to be a yellow Oriental man with a golden robe. This is an important point.

Although Vajrayogini has extraordinary qualities, her practice is not for everyone. Such a practice involves many different vows and commitments, and this can be quite difficult for people. Tara, however, can be practised by everyone and this practice brings great benefit. Through Tara practise, we can build up a connection with this ever-present enlightened being as someone to take refuge in, someone to pray to, and someone to inspire our lives and touch our hearts.

Fortunately, we have a number of Tara practices to suit the needs of different individuals. I will briefly introduce some of these practices in the hope that they will be of some benefit.

These practices involve visualisation: we visualise Tara not as a painting or mirage, but as a fully enlightened being with the qualities of wisdom and compassion that can help you to help yourself. In Tibetan Buddhism, we associate particular colours with everything that exists. For example, the traditional elements of earth, water, fire, air, and space are each associated with certain colours. We also associate particular colours with states of mind. We visualise these colours and the elements associated with them in their pure, uncontaminated, and fully vital form. In these practices, we visualise these colours in the form of light and liquid streaming forth from Tara to fully revitalise and protect us.

1. HEALING THE ELEMENTS

Through Tara, we can learn how to heal ourselves, which involves healing the elements. Why healing the elements? First, you might ask, what does it mean to be alive? We are alive because the mind or consciousness remains in the physical body. As long as this physical body is synchronised with the mind, we call it life. When it is disconnected, we call it death.

A healthy life depends on synchronisation of mind and body. The mind and body both need to be balanced. A healthy mind is a balanced mind. If you lose your mental balance, you become cuckoo or a vegetable.

The body also needs to be balanced. In traditional Eastern medicine, the body is said to be composed of five elements: earth, water, fire, air, and space. If the elements of the body are unbalanced, we can have problems that affect not only the body, but also the state of our minds.

The earth element represents the bones and flesh of the body. The water element is the fluids in the body. Fire is the element that controls digestion. The air element is related to the energy of circulation — of the blood, oxygen, and nervous system. And you need the space element within the body for the simple reason that otherwise everything would be smashed.

These elements also have an emotional component. The space element is related to the sense of spaciousness. An imbalance of space will leave us feeling cramped and constrained in our thinking. The air element is associated with the mind and mental functioning. When the air element is imbalanced, you may feel flighty or exceedingly nervous; when the air is balanced your mind is curious and flexible, and you are able to grasp new ideas and ways of thinking. An imbalance of the fire element can lead to impulsive “hotheaded” behaviour. A healthy fire element strengthens your willpower and enables you to feel passionate and inspired in your efforts. A healthy water element helps to calm your emotions; otherwise you may feel overly sensitive or emotionally turbulent. And a healthy earth element allows you to feel grounded.

In the Tara practice of healing the elements, we learn to visualise and work with the energies that affect the balance of these elements. In this practice, we visualise coloured light streaming forth from Tara and renewing each of our elements with the essence of inexhaustible vitality. We associate a golden light with the earth element. A white, opalescent light is associated with the water element. The fire element is red-orange, like the glow of molten metal. The air element is emerald green, and the space element is sapphire blue. We visualise these colours streaming forth from Tara. The light of each element extends to the outermost reaches of the universe and collects the essence of each element. Then we visualise this light and similarly coloured liquid completely filling our bodies and fully rejuvenating each of our elements in turn.

2. TARA’S SIX-SHIELD PRACTICE

Tara’s six-shield practice is a practical and very helpful practice that we can use to clear away obstacles and protect ourselves — and those we care about — from harmful influences.

In this practice, we visualise shields of different coloured light radiating from Tara and encircling us and our loved ones in concentric spheres of protection. These shields transform our usual neuroses into their wisdom nature. That very wisdom nature becomes a powerful and skillful energy that uplifts and benefits both self and others.

The first shield is white, not only for pacifying difficulties but also for purifying faults. The next shield is composed of golden light, which is for increasing prosperity and also for developing our beneficial qualities. A shield of red light brings us power, as well as a sense of capability and confidence. The blue shield not only brings the necessary wrathful qualities needed to say no when no is necessary, but also the discriminating power of destruction when destruction is needed. This reminds us that compassion does not mean being a doormat. The green shield is not just for miscellaneous activity but also for the supreme and mundane powers required on the path to enlightenment. A final shield is composed of a rust-coloured light that helps to stabilise the qualities we gain from the other shields. This is incredibly important because it is not possible to have spiritual development without stability.

3. PROTECTION FROM THE EIGHT FEARS

Tara can also help us learn to protect ourselves from the eight fears. These are not the common fears we share with most human beings, such as fear of dangerous animals, nightmares, illness, or untimely death.

In this practice, we use the power of Tara’s mantra, Om Tare Tutare Ture Soha. Om represents Tara’s enlightened body, speech, and mind. Tare means one who liberates from suffering. Tutare means one who liberates from the eight fears. Ture means one who liberates from ignorance with the wisdom that brings the true cessation of suffering. Soha means may the meaning of the mantra take root in my mind.

This mantra is used to overcome the eight fears of the spiritual practitioner, which are:

The lion of pride: As the king of the jungle, the lion looks down on everyone and listens to the counsel of no one. Our pride will isolate us from help and keep us locked in the control of ignorance.

The elephant of ignorance: The metaphor for ignorance is the elephant — not an ordinary elephant but a wild, drunken one. This elephant will not hesitate to trample anyone who gets in his way. That is what ignorance does to us.

The fire of anger: The fire of anger is fanned by the wind of wrongdoing. Wrongdoing is caused by the elephant of ignorance, which give strength to the fire.

The snake of jealousy: Like a snake in the shadows, jealousy hides in the darkness of ignorance. When we see others doing better than us, the snake strikes and poisons us. Then we spread that poison to others as soon as we are able.

The thief of wrong view: What does a thief do? He steals our valuables. Likewise, wrong view steals our opportunity to make any progress on the spiritual path.

The shackles of stinginess: Everyone views generosity as something positive. Stinginess is just the opposite. It binds us so that we are incapable of acting positively. It keeps us hopelessly trapped in samsara.

The waters of attachment: Attachment functions like a violent, rushing river. It keeps us trapped in the current of samsara, carrying us further and further from the shores of liberation.

The ghost of doubt: Ghosts usually function at night. Likewise, doubt functions in the darkness of ignorance. It frightens and confuses us, preventing us from making our way to the light of freedom.

Using the power of Tara’s mantra, we meditate on each of these fears and its antidote.

We counter pride with the humble recognition that we don’t know everything — just trying to name all the bones of one’s own body is proof of that.

Ignorance is ultimately conquered by the wisdom that recognises emptiness. Until then, we can apply mindfulness to grow more aware of the consequences of our actions.

The antidote to anger is patience. We can use patience to help us trace our anger back to its source to help us see the folly that is generally its cause.

Jealousy can be countered by compassion. Through insightful analysis, we come to recognise that all beings share the desire for happiness. Rather than resenting another’s good fortune, we can begin to rejoice in their happiness.

Wrong view can be countered by understanding that our actions have consequences. Our negative actions will ultimately result in suffering for ourselves. Our positive actions will ultimately bring us peace and joy.

Stinginess is countered by the practice of generosity. That may seem obvious, but it requires recognising that generosity begins with generosity toward ourselves. When we meditate on how miserliness is actually stealing all our joy and appreciation of life, we will begin to practice generosity.

Attachment can be conquered through understanding the impermanent nature of reality.

And doubt is subdued by intelligent faith. This is the kind of faith in the teachings that we develop through personally examining and testing what we have learned. As Buddha put it, we should examine each of his teachings as thoroughly as we would if we were buying a piece of gold.

FINDING RELIABLE INSTRUCTION

It is important to incorporate the feminine principle into our practice, because we cannot achieve the ultimate attainment of enlightenment without perfecting both the male and female aspects. The ultimate development of the feminine within the individual is called clear light, which might be described as the direct perception of emptiness. The ultimate development of the masculine is the illusion body. The combination of the two is what we call union. As I said, this is the union of enlightened mind and enlightened body. It is the union of relative and absolute truth. It is the ultimate development we can achieve. If we develop one aspect without the other, we will never be able to achieve this union.

At the moment, ultimate enlightenment may seem like an impossible task. But the opportunity to help ourselves by developing the principles represented by Tara practice is available to us right now.

Of course there is more to these practices than the simple descriptions I have provided here. My main goal was to show the importance of the feminine principle in Buddhism and the possibilities for making it an important part of our spiritual journey.

If you are interested in pursuing this feminine aspect further, I urge you to find a reliable source of instruction. Fortunately, these days we have many resources in the form of qualified teachers and books that offer more detailed explanations of what is possible with Tara practice.

Gelek Rinpoche 3.

Avoid mistakes in the way of listening and generate the proper attitudes. The wrong attitudes are described by analogy with 3 pots:

(1) a leaky pot which can’t hold its contents, from not concentrating;

(2) an upside-down pot, if there are many distracting thoughts, nothing can go inside: be mindful and reflect on the meaning of the teaching;

(3) a defiled pot, a stained pot: this is listening to the teaching with the wrong motivation, wanting to
gain some benefit from it for this life.

— Ling Rinpoche

在工作中修行 减少烦恼的两个办法
慧律法师

应该怎样过人生呢?要记住:

第一:你一定要宽恕众生。人的一生耗费在干扰别人、伤害别人、毁谤别人、批评别人的时间,超过于冷静下来了解自己。我们每天眼睛一张开,都在看别人的错误,一张嘴巴,都在讲别人的过错。人永远是烦恼的动物,从早到晚都是一样,到老到死还是不觉悟。

你要活得快乐,你一定要宽恕众生。

大家都不是圣人。你的心中,一定有最气愤的人,你最恨的人,最讨厌的人,也有最嫉妒的人,对不对?从来没有发脾气的人,请举手……没有人!除非是神经病。大家都曾发过脾气。现在师父告诉大家,怎样过最快乐的日子。要宽恕众生,不要看人家的缺点,要看自己的缺点。我举个例子:比如说,同样在一个公司里,别人的能力比我强,我就嫉妒他,我的内心就不满。诸位佛友,你看是哪一个人比较痛苦呢?是别人活得痛苦,还是你活得痛苦呢?

你嫉妒别人、恨别人,人家又不知道,真是神经病。然后,有一天你实在忍不住了,对你所恨的人说:“我在恨你,你知道吗?”对方说:“我不知道啊!”这样不是很可怜吗?

世界上只有慈悲能够解除痛苦,你们一定要放下,要宽恕众生。宽恕人家,你就会很好过日子。你今天晚上来听师父讲这一席话,值二十万新加坡币,回去就很好睡觉了。你就可以说:“我以前恨你,今天听师父讲,就不恨你了,反正前世欠你的,你就拿去用吧!”这就0K了。

《六祖坛经》中说:“他非我不非。”六祖慧能大师就是这样教我们的。别人弄得是是非非,我们是不能有是非的,要做到如下的原则:“宽恕众生。”这是学佛的第一步骤,如此你才不会痛苦烦恼。

其实我们不只是为了众生才宽恕众生,而是为了自己想要享受那一份安祥宁静的内在,体会那种知足而清心自在的快乐。所以,你一定要宽恕众生,这样我们的智慧就会慢慢启发出来,心地也会渐渐地广阔开朗起来。

第二:改变自己,胜于改变别人。释迦牟尼佛说:“降伏百万大军并不伟大,降伏自己,才是世界上最伟大的人。”简单地讲,学佛所要做的工作就是要改变自己。

我们看看当今社会上,父母亲因意见不合而吵架,兄弟之间因小事而纷争,同学因对事情看法不同而起争执,同事间会斗争,这是为什么?你有没有想想症结在哪里?该找找根本解决的办法。

我们再更深入地想一想,不管是同公司的同事,亲密的朋友,情如手足的同学。刚开始相处时,大家都很融洽,后来大家都搞得很痛苦,为什么呢?可以找到问题的根源吗?面临这些现实的问题,总要找到答案,因为人必须生活下去,每一个人总要活下去,一定要工作,一定要吃三餐,但是面临每天争执的问题该怎么办呢?我认为:“改变自己,胜于改变别人。”随便举个例子来讲。比如夫妻之间,先生花天酒地,喜欢玩女人,太太伤透了脑筋,因为她放不下,观念转不过来。

如果学了佛法,观念就能转过来。你今天不回来,我就寻自己的乐趣,反正我的生活总要过下去,改不了你,我改变自己。同事与同事之间也是一样,彼此相处久了,相互就了解对方了,也了解其为人了。比如:这个人怪贪不舍,只想占人便宜。买一个便当,偷偷跑到外面去吃。我买了一个便当回来,被他发现了鸡腿,马上被偷走。他买水果自己偷偷躲着吃,我买水果,他一定要抢着吃,什么事情都为了他自己。

世间这种人很多。在台湾很多,在新加坡不知道有没有,可能没有。这种人水准很低,我们也不必跟他计较。若遇到这种人,我奉劝你,改变自己。面对这种人,他是凡夫,不会觉悟的,是不可能解脱的,所以,我们不要跟他一般见识。因此,要宽恕别人,改变自己;宽恕众生,快活自己。

“When you have begun your Dharma practice, you should definitely notice that your ignorance is decreasing, your aggression is decreasing, your pride is decreasing, your attachment and desire are decreasing, your jealousy and competitiveness are decreasing, and that your mind is becoming more peaceful and tame.

Being able to fly in space or leave your footprint in stone are signs of siddhi, some power, but they are not signs of the ultimate result, which is none other than the pacification of ignorance and the disturbing emotions.”

— Yangthang Rinpoche

Interfaith
by Choje Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche

Every faith has goodness in it and we should start to experience this quality in whatever we are learning. There can be too much talking, in different languages and about different ideas. A lot of talking creates chaos and misunderstandings.

I always think that Christianity, the teaching of the Christ, and the teachings of the Buddha are not really that different. Too much talking has been causing all the problems! If you are Christian you have the Ten Commandments, and aim to live your life by these values. In Buddhism we have Ten Virtues, so you actually have a similarity there. We talk about avoiding the ten negative acts with body, speech and mind and cultivating their opposites, the ten virtues. I think these two schools both have value for people. They don’t accept hurting others or taking life; that is the answer to our problems. Our idea is giving life and serving humanity.

I feel that in the long run, if people practise more and experience on a mind level how beautiful life is, it is like we are able to go above the clouds. When you reach above the clouds there is no limit. I think arguments and disagreements all happen under the clouds. So we have to get above the clouds by learning to meditate.

I have no problem with going to church, actually some of my friends are Christians – I have friends who are Cardinals and Bishops. I have just come from London where I gave a sermon with Father Laurence, one of the most important men in the Benedictine Order. He has been talking with His Holiness Dalai Lama and they have written books together. He has given many courses and is in charge of 200,000 meditators in Christian monasteries.

I would like to see an opening up and somehow get rid of these boundaries of division so we can walk the spiritual path together. Number one, we want to be close to what we believe and number two, we want to engage everything we say, think or do for the benefit of humanity. I think then there will be a very big benefit to this planet.

If we have nothing but sectarian fighting, arguing, killing, destroying the environment in the name of our belief, then I think we are no better than just worldly political groups. Spiritual groups must go beyond this. I’m thinking: maybe in every corner of the world, there are a lot of decent human beings, both schools working very hard to bring peace and harmony together.

It doesn’t mean we have to give up our belief system. We have to have a belief. It’s not a matter of one is giving up something, no. One is accumulating more wisdom, more knowledge. When I was in America, I met many Christian people and many Jewish people from around the world, they now say: “We are better Christians now than before we met Buddhists” or “we are better Jews now than before we met Buddhists”.

I have never seen any Buddha’s teaching say we have to convert or make people believe in his system. Buddha is saying ‘may we all be able to be whoever we want to be’, but we must make sure it is for the benefit of all humanity. We have to give up selfishness; we have to have a feeling for all life forms. So, I think everybody should never listen or follow people if someone is talking sectarian, because that is how war is forged, that is why life is lost. But if everything is teaching loving-kindness and forgiveness then this is very beautiful.

When we meditate, there is no boundary. We can see we all have the same goal. We all have to be here today, not in the past, not in the future. If you believe in God, it’s going to make you very close to Him very quickly, so that you will not be so in the distance, far away. If you are Buddhist we say you have Buddha-nature within you, then we don’t have to seek something out there.

When we think God is some being out there, if our mind is diluted, even if the God is right here, we will never be able to see Him. That’s why people become disillusioned. When you come into retreat and meditate you weed out your poisons. Then if you say the God is already there, you will be able to see Him and feel Him. It is the same in Buddhism.

I never try to make anybody to become a Buddhist. I have been to many meetings. I’m part of a group called Scottish Heads of Religion. Christians say: we have these hundreds of millions of followers; Muslims say we have all this. This is Lama Yeshe – how many Buddhists do you have? I said I have no clue. I don’t even know whether I have one or none, I have never counted heads. Numbers are not a big deal for me.

I want to plant seeds of loving-kindness and forgiveness in every human being. So it doesn’t matter whether you have faith or you don’t have faith, whether you are believers of Buddhism or Christianity, it doesn’t make a difference. We must have this superior quality which we in Buddhism call unconditional loving-kindness. That’s called God’s love. God doesn’t have biased love, it’s unconditional. If all human beings are made by God, He or She should not have favourites, this group or that group. That’s why Buddhism says: unconditional loving-kindness.

Many of you say this is what happens in Samye Ling. We have every weekend four different courses. Buddhist, Christian Buddhist Dialogue, yoga, tai-chi, everything happens in Samye Ling under one roof. I have centres around the world called Centres for World Peace and Health. Their doors are always open for all of you. Human beings are really this time running out of choices, we are lost. So, if somebody can be helped through yoga, why not teach yoga? Or if somebody can be helped through tai-chi, or for that matter, through therapy, healing, massage or meditation, whatever has a good lineage, really good lineage, we can teach it.

A path which wants to imprison you, a belief system which want to take your resources, money, freedom, that’s not a liberating self-freeing path, it’s worse than that! Liberating, self-freeing means there is no condition, the door is open. I say to many people, I don’t mind whether you have belief or not, I’m always there to help you. So I think this is how we should all work.

Working with dialogue: you bring in what is good in Christianity; we bring in what is good in Buddhism. See how it’s going to make everybody who is working together have a wider vision, because if we are not exposed to other belief-systems of the world, we become very narrow-minded. We don’t have a big view. A very narrow view means there is not much benefit we can gain through practising. So see how we are going to really give individual people the confidence they need to have.

So, you cannot actually experience, even if you are a Christian, God within you or wherever, outer or inner, without having a calmer, more positive mind. That is why retreat, meditation and solitude are necessary. Otherwise, if there is no meditation, no retreat, no solitude – then even people who have faith die very disillusioned, saying: “I was a believer of this religion or that religion, but I have never experienced what they say we are going to experience.”

The future is for meditators, practitioners, experiencing this authentic sort of teachings of… if Christian, Christ’s teaching. As a Buddhist I am a meditator. In Buddhism there are so many teachings, there are 84,000 types of teaching – it means, if I don’t meditate I just lose what Buddha has taught. No useful purpose will come from the words. But if I am a meditator, a practitioner, I have confidence, because then I know what he has taught to us. I can experience it. So that gives self-confidence.

Afternoon: What is Common to Christian and Buddhist Meditation?

My speciality is meditation. I dedicated 32 years of my life to it. Out of this, 12 years have been in solitary retreat. I have done three 49-day dark retreats and every day of my schedule is 7 hours of meditation. My meditation starts at 3.30 in the morning.

The Buddhist principle asks ‘ what is your motivation to meditate’? Why do you want to meditate, why do you want to follow a spiritual path? For example, one motivation could be that if samsara means drowning in all the different work and chaos we have, we need to know how to help any human beings who wish to be helped, by not letting them to sink into samsara. So, in meditation we always need to have a proper motivation.

The proper motivation is: how to become a stable and kind person, how not to become a judgemental or critical person, how not to criticise or judge other people’s beliefs or other people’s way of life. In Buddhism we say: “Don’t ask everybody to fit in your shoes but you learn to fit in everybody’s shoes.” That is principle number one.

So, we want to learn to meditate in order to gain wisdom. Because samsara right now is very tempting, we have so many choices. Every human being, especially in Europe, lives in a free world and we have lots of choices. But if you have no wisdom, you don’t actually know what kind of choice you want to make. Even if you do succeed and make a choice, your choice doesn’t stick with you. It’s like you are watching the shopping channel on TV and you think: “I’ll get that”, but then next day something else comes. We keep on changing what we think we need to have to be happy and fulfilled.

In many universities in Europe and America people are doing lots of research, and they are finding that if you have some form of a belief system and if you have faith or devotion, it’s much better than if you have no faith, devotion or belief.

Faith, devotion and belief are like learning to trust in yourself. So we want to learn to increase our trust in our own choices, our own judgement. Then, if you are from a Christian background, it’s absolutely necessary to have unconditional loving-kindness, respect or faith in Christ. If you don’t have that, your prayer will not make it happen. It’s like electricity. There has to be both. If there is God or Christ, there must be you to make this happen by absolutely unconditional belief or trust. It is necessary to gain the fullest benefit of what you want to do.

According to our belief system, we have to have also similar belief and trust in our own what we call Buddha-mind or Buddha-nature, without doubting. Then we can make progress. Otherwise many people, because of their upbringing, go through lots of hardship. Lots of people experience not being brought up properly by their parents. And also there are many different [spiritual] schools. The teaching has not been authentic, honest and always true. People experience a lot of pain and suffering. So many people around the world right now, they say: “We don’t want to have anything to do with established belief systems, because they did not fulfil our needs.”

Then also you have difficulty sometimes with your own parents. Also the great expectation you have of your chosen government. When they are not able to fulfil your expectation, you manage to blame everybody else except yourselves. Meditation means: we first learn to improve our state of mind. Then we have enough wisdom. Maybe then we can reduce the blame for God or civilisation or family. It’s called self-healing. How can we become wholesome unless we are able to do this self-healing? No outer wealth or choice will ever make you a fully satisfied human being.

Learning how to meditate. Harmony. On a meadow anything can grow, an untamed mind according to Buddhism means a lot of weeds. Meditation means we do lots of weeding. We have to weed out our weakness, our poisons, our desire, our anxiety, our anger, our jealousy. So, when you keep on weeding through this meditation, then the field out there will be very healthy.

I’ll give a very simple meditation technique.

This technique is seen in Buddhism as one of the highest form of meditation, but because it doesn’t involve any chanting or reciting, the mind is yours. Your meditation with me means whether you believe or not, you never need to worry about anything. So your body is here. Your mind should be inseparable from your body. When we meditate, don’t allow your mind jump out from the body. Bring it back, it’s should be inseparable.

Physically relax, mentally relax. Our idea is to be here now. Normally when you sit, because your mind has been very active, very busy, you never know what to do, so most people who have some emotional disturbance or things they don’t want to deal with go back to the past. So what you need to say is: no, stop going there. Not even one hour before. Just be here now. That’s what you have to tell to your mind. Not in the past any more. Present, present.

Your mind has been always grasping, holding onto something. It’s like if you get lost. If you manage to get lost without thinking something, you start immediately thinking: “Now I’m lost.” So your mind wants to lead to the future. If you meditate on the future, you might think: “What am I doing after the talk?” or “What am I going to do this evening?” If you let your mind go to the future, it’s never-ending. So you need to make an effort to stop leading the future.

So, you should never stay with the past, never lead to the future, just remember to be calm, relaxed and present here. Now your mind and body are inseparable, together. Otherwise, most of the time, even if our body is here, mind is always somewhere up there doing something, thinking something, planning something. That’s why there is no fulfilment.

What happens in meditation – I’m realistic and I know how the mind works. For the first time in your life, you are told there is nothing you have to do and you will find this is the most difficult thing you actually have been taught. The most difficult thing is to ask you to do nothing! I think most of you won’t be able to stay there for five seconds. But if that happens then you have to anchor your mind into something. So, because breathing is part of your life, close your eyes and then start breathing normally in, out (one), in, out (two). You should start counting the breath.

Of course, when we have a gathering of people with different belief systems or no belief, then meditation actually is very beautiful. Christianity in a way is very similar, because you believe Christ loves you. We also have visualisation, we invite so-called bodhisattvas in front of us. You trust in your spiritual form, so you are pure enough to receive the bodhisattvas that come from you. Then the bodhisattvas can come in a light form and dissolve into you. And you and the bodhisattva become one. So, this is very much the same, it is very nice. If you don’t want to do a complicated way, then my way is dzogchen or mahamudra because it doesn’t require anything. You need devotion and to make the connection, then in Buddhism you can visualise the Lama or Guru. But if you don’t have that sort of belief, faith and devotion, then you invoke the bodhisattvas. This is very, very similar.

Question:

How you celebrate Wesak?

Lama Yeshe:

In Buddhism we have many different schools, Wesak is actually Theravada tradition, but we also celebrate by rejoicing. Celebration is rejoicing, make sure we are really able to rejoice and move forward. According to Buddhism we must renounce the so-called feeling of guilt. We must weed out the feeling of guilt. How are we able to rejoice if we have so much feeling of guilt? We must renounce the guilt business and move forward.

Question:

I’ve been meditating and the more I meditated the more I felt I’ve got a buffer zone around me, so when people did something to me or I did something to them I started to see what was going on behind, our motivations. And I started interfering less and less and then, as a Christian, I got afraid, because Christianity is very much going out, helping people, starting things, and that made me a little bit afraid.

Lama Yeshe:

There is a big difference in this. We become fearless. If there is no “me”, if there is no Buddha, then we are not afraid of anything. Because when we have the solidification of somebody, of yourself, then through the solidification fear comes. If you really want to be connected to Christ, then you don’t want to become cut off from this connection, so the fear comes.

In Buddhism we actually have more gods than in Christianity, we have hundreds of different gods. But ultimately we say they don’t exist. Because it is our mind – we say everything is mind – mind thinks there is god and mind doesn’t think there is god. According to your mind, god said there is god, I’m some god. You have absolute belief in this. Buddha says: “Actually I haven’t made them, I haven’t seen them.” Therefore I found nothing called Buddha. In Buddhism relatively there is me, you, I visualise bodhisattvas, I visualise gods. But once I reach the bodhisattva levels, I let go. It’s like a plane that takes you to space. Then you let go of the plane. You don’t need the plane, you’ll be in space. Solidification means you can’t let it go, because you think you are going to fall out.

If you are a Buddhist, you should look at this fearful form, who is the one I am afraid of? Am I afraid of losing the connection to God? If God is something all-pervading, you can’t cut God off. You should not be fearful of meditating.

Question:

The thoughts I’d like to share with you were said more or less. When we are near God, in God, there is no fear. God is Love and there is no fear in love. And when I think about meditating and going near to God, I think in Buddhism there is something in us, we have to get rid of the ego. Which is a false ego, built by us. It doesn’t exist and we have to get rid of it. And then there is the real Self, which God has made. It’s not so easy to put away the things you have made for you, it makes you a little bit afraid. But there is nothing to be afraid of, because God is Love, and we just have to let go and receive what there is to get. And the beauty of it all, you can feel it here when we pray together or we meditate together as if we had met each other already long time ago. We are separated as physical persons, but kind of one.

Lama Yeshe:

I think I have fully understood what you are saying. I think you have to make sure they understand! I have understood, this is what I practise.

Question:

I think you understood, I’m not sure how I chose the English language.

Lama Yeshe:

Yes, then now I think what you need to do is to make sure you understand what they have to go through. Because we say, ‘one with God’ which means weed and pure seed can’t mix together. We say in Buddhism we have to do cleansing, purification to get rid of this ego. So then we are the Buddha or we become Buddha. You are exactly the same. You could be God or God could be you, because He is the Creator, but ego is in between. So we need to deal with ego.

But mostly in samsara, they think differently. They don’t say: “I have to deal with my ego,” they attack other people’s egos! That’s the way the whole difficulty starts. So we have to take the challenge and say: we are all practitioners, that means we do nothing to hurt you, other people’s egos. We first pacify our ego. Then other people can benefit.

[Sister Hannele]

Lama Yeshe:

Many people who are Christian, people like her [the one making a former question], when they think they are sinners, they get afraid, that’s why the so-called guilt comes. If you can reassure them saying: God hasn’t made you to be that person. I think help is necessary.

[Question]

Lama Yeshe:

Number one, we should never think the universe has always been. You can look to [science], many, many milliards of years ago there wasn’t a so-called Earth, it gradually formed. That’s why Buddha said there wasn’t something that is here. When he is talking about continuation, he means this mind, which is beyond here or there or everywhere. It has no birth and no death. It is a continuation. In Christianity, it is called God. It’s not the Planet Earth, it’s not a tree, it’s not our body. Even our most solid body – your scientists are now saying 75% of our body is nothing more than water.

And we never remember that every second we are changing. We say the nature of everything in change. We conceive from nothing. And we become a little thing in our mother’s belly. Then a toddler. Just every second we are changing. Nothing remains the same. If there is no change, there is a continuation of what we will call the All-Pervading. So what Buddhists are saying is: we should never solidify ourselves or anything, because it keeps on changing. Weather keeps on changing, climate keeps on changing, our views keep on changing. If we are adaptable to change, we are freed, we are more liberated.

Buddhism comes to a conclusion that essence is everywhere. It means we take a tree as a real solid object, but actually it started from nothing growing into a tree. One day it will dissolve into nothing. Everything is just like this, even the Planet of Earth, which is the most solid object we have. According to Buddha’s teaching, it is going to dissolve into emptiness. Within a certain period of time it will be destroyed by fire and water. The Earth will not exist forever. But this mind cannot be destroyed, because it hasn’t got shape, colour or form. When there is no shape, colour or form, how can you destroy it? If there is no shape, no colour, no form, how can we say something exists? So Buddhism comes to a conclusion: we see nothing, we hear nothing, we feel nothing, we measure nothing. If we can’t say anything, what can we say?

If you don’t have a good, strong, positive mind, how you actually make a connection to Christ, if you have no belief and faith? Acquire this strong and positive mind. According to Buddhism we all have a mind. Mind is the only thing, which allows us to be connected to the Christ or connected to Buddha-nature, whatever it is. It is the mind we work with. We need to keep on learning to meditate. Yes, go deeper into the mind, the yogi’s mind. I talk about the quality of mind. Read Yogi’s mind, it says: “Even though we can never say the mind has wings, it is all over the place. Even though we can’t say mind has eyes, it seems to see everything.” If we sit and say: “Mind, please stay with us,” mind wants to go away. If we sit here and say: “Mind, please go away,” mind won’t go. So mind is most unworkable, if we don’t know how to work with it.

The essence of working with the mind is, if you are Christian: you have a strong, strong devotion to Christ, so it pacifies this negative, strong doubtful energy. Get rid of that. If you are Buddhist, it’s very strong and a good battlefield. Because Buddha is saying: what I have got, you all have got. You just find for yourself, where the Buddha mind is. So there is nothing we need to doubt or look for anything elsewhere, only look into yourself. This all requires meditation, calming mind, positive engagement, believing in what we are doing.

Prayer, meditation, whatever. If we don’t have a pure mind, even if God is in front of you, you will never find Him. You need to have this pure mind, it’s like people with no eyes can’t see. You have to have pure eyesight. Buddhism is the same. If you don’t have pure motivation, you can’t see.

Choje Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche 7.

If we can allow some space within our awareness and rest there, we can respect our troubling thoughts and emotions, allow them to come, and let them go. Our lives may be complicated on the outside, but we remain simple, easy, and open on the inside.

— Tsoknyi Rinpoche