Mindset Determines How We Age
by Thrangu Rinpoche

Keep a cheerful, calm state of mind. Try not to overthink
when we are unhappy. This is beneficial to both our body and mind,
and helps to slow down the ageing process.

Elderly Tibetans often circle stupas and make prostrations. This is a kind of dharma practice, and also a type of physical exercise. Due to cultural differences, elderly populations elsewhere have different habits and customs. However, I think the main difference lies in whether or not they have encountered the dharma.


Generally, in their spare time, Buddhists listen to the teachings or stay at home to practice or recite prayers, so they don’t easily become upset. Elderly non-Buddhists mostly reside in places without the dharma or do not have the chance to learn about the dharma. Even though they might lead comfortable lives, they tend to have more negative thinking. Once they retire and have nothing to do, they tend to feel more bored and lonely.

The most important thing for older people is to not be pessimistic. We should not constantly think, “Oh, I am too old. I am really struggling a lot” and focus solely on negative things.

We should often be cautious not to give rise to thoughts of jealousy, pride, and anger. When they do arise, we have to realise that these negative thoughts are of no use to us.

Older people in different situations experience distinct afflictions and suffering. For example, some have more anger and are short-tempered, others suffer more from physical pain. Fortunately, there are ways to face all these afflictions and suffering.


According to the Treasury of Abhidharma, there are three causes for the afflictions to arise: not abandoning the kernels of the afflictions, the object being present, and inappropriate attention. An older person with more anger in them, for example, has not abandoned the kernel of anger. When they see an object that angers them, they develop inappropriate attention. This means that they persistently think about the person who angered them and the terrible things that person has done. They feel this way even if the person never directly harmed them, due to the influence of inappropriate attention.

Afflictions arise when the causes and conditions, namely the kernels, object, and inappropriate attention are present. We can handle the situation by thinking logically, and approaching it from an objective and positive perspective. The person who angered us might have had no alternative, which is something with which we can empathise. We ourselves probably also behaved wrongly at that time. Using a logical approach, based on reasoning, helps to diminish our anger, and makes it easier for us to cultivate loving-kindness and compassion. This practice is suitable for older people with more anger in them.


Some of us experience mental suffering, but constantly feeling sorry for ourselves is not constructive. We should consider the fact that there are many people in this world suffering just like we are. We are not the only ones experiencing pain.

We should try to think about what we can do to alleviate the pain of others. We can recite prayers and make dedications for them.

Thinking and practising like this also reduces our own worries and suffering.

In general, we should try to cultivate devotion towards the dhar­ma. We can do things like reciting prayers, circling stupas, and meditating to help us develop devotion.

In a way, we can say that people living in Asia are very fortunate. Although it is rare to find stupas in most places, they can visit monasteries, meditate there, and make offerings and aspirations, which are all excellent practices.

In addition, some older people may suffer from serious illnesses and experience various physical discomforts. They should make use of the opportunity to pray to the Medicine Buddha, practice his sadhana, and recite his mantra.


As an older person, I make a habit of reminding myself that being able to age like this is such a wonderful and fortunate thing. It is proof of my longevity. We should make use of our precious time to practice the dharma.

We need to be optimistic and joyful and remind ourselves that not everyone is able to live as long as we have. This is not easy to achieve, so we must treasure our ageing process and give rise to inner joy.

Keep a cheerful, calm state of mind. Try not to overthink when we are unhappy. This is beneficial to both our body and mind and helps to slow down the ageing process. A body and mind that is calm and cheerful is extremely beneficial to us.

The more you are preoccupied with your own physical ageing, the more anxious you will become. Do not worry so much about your physical appearance. Concentrate, rather, on not wasting your life. Practise the Dharma. The more you engage in it, the more your satisfaction will grow.

— Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche




























Even if you can recite the whole Tripitaka by heart, even if you know the entire Dharma, if you don’t have the guru’s advice, there will be a gap between you and the Dharma when you practice.

— Atiśha

Three in One: A Buddhist Trinity
by Reginald A. Ray

It is said that the Buddha is defined by three bodies of enlightenment, the so-called trikaya of classical Mahayana theory. These include the dharmakaya, the body of ultimate reality; the sambhogakaya, the body of joy; and the nirmanakaya, the Buddha’s conditioned, human body of flesh and blood. The trikaya theory often seems rather abstract and remote, far removed from our ordinary lives and daily meditation practice. In this column, I want to suggest, however, that the trikaya actually forms part of our most intimate experience and is the very basis of our present human existence.

According to the Abhidharma, there are three major kinds of ground that all humans experience in the course of their lives. The first, the ground of “existence,” is the experience of ourselves as having a relatively solid and continuous identity, grounded in the practical, conventional world. This ground is affirmed through all the activities of the body, speech and mind by which we seek to define, maintain and enhance our familiar sense of “self.” This ground corresponds to the conventional idea of human life and is what most people view as the essence of their identity.

The second kind of ground is “death/birth.” There are times when we find ourselves unable to maintain the identity we have thought of as “me.” We feel weak and shaky, our very bodies and mind seem to be dissolving, and we feel like we are falling apart. In the midst of this fear, we may feel as if we are dying. We can call this ground “death/birth,” because whatever dissolution and death we may experience — whether psychological, social or even physical — is at the very same time a birth into another identity or mode of being.

The third kind of ground is emptiness or the “groundless ground.” Here, sometimes abruptly, we come face to face with our own nonexistence. We look to the solid and desirable ground of our familiar “existence,” and even to the typically undesirable ground of “death/birth,” and can find neither. We are able to discover nothing but space that is open, clear and empty. People report discovering this third kind of ground in the midst of a serious automobile accident, or when they have suddenly been humiliated, or while making love. It can also occur when we are stunned by traumatic news, overwhelmed by sadness or surprised by something extraordinarily beautiful.

These three grounds are nothing other than the three bodies of enlightenment manifesting in our experience. The apparent solidity and continuity of “existence” is the practical, helpful nirmanakaya; the perpetual change and transformation of “death/birth” is the unceasing sambhogakaya, and the unbounded openness of “emptiness” is nothing other than the immutable dharmakaya.

But, we may ask, how can these three bodies possibly manifest in the experience of confused, unenlightened people such as ourselves? Buddhism teaches that within each of us is buddhanature — the immaculate, peerless state of enlightenment embodied in a perfected way by the Buddha. What is this buddhanature? It is nothing other than the three bodies of a fully awakened one. Buddhism affirms, in other words, that the three kayas, in their integral, pure and mature form, are within us at this very moment.

Yet obviously we do not experience the three kayas in their full and perfected form. Rather, when they arise as the background of every moment of our lives, we instantly overlay and obscure them with the habitual, distorting tendencies of our ego.

Each of us, based on our particular karmic proclivities, tends to focus on one or another of the three kayas. We try to create from it a solid, secure ground for our samsaric “self.” For most of us, the nirmanakaya, in its solidified form as “existence,” is the ground we most prefer, with “death/birth” and “emptiness” being undesirable or even deeply feared grounds. Others, however, seek their primary security in the constant turmoil of “death/birth,” and find the continuity and stability of “existence” or the ground of emptiness extremely threatening. Such individuals feel compelled to create constant chaos in their own lives and in the lives of others. For still other people — and these are usually spiritual practitioners — the desired ground of ego is emptiness: they find themselves most comfortable with empty space and quite reluctant to credit either “existence” or “death/birth” as legitimate modes of being.

We can see from our own experience that the attempt to create an ego identity out of any of the three grounds is fraught with difficulties and contradictions. The fallacy of the conventional attempt to build an identity out of the nirmanakaya is perhaps the easiest to understand. By seeking permanence and security in “existence,” one is refusing to acknowledge the impermanence that marks all phenomena and the emptiness that underlies it all. In so doing, the conventionally grounded person is locking him- or herself into an identity that — while perhaps fresh and creative in its formation — quickly becomes outworn, restrictive and even deadly when the causes and conditions that produced that identity have changed, making it no longer applicable. From this arises the demonic quality of the conventional, modern world, where impermanence, change and death are marginalised and denied.

The attempt to make the continuing impermanence of “death/birth” a reference point is equally problematic. In this case, fearing the suffocating potential of “existence” we become perpetual rebels, deeply mistrustful of any appearance of continuity, stability or peace. The irony and self-contradiction here are that, in our perpetual opposition to any fixed identity, we have created the most fixed identity of all, one of invariable opposition to anything that has been built and created, by ourselves or anyone else.

The attempt to use the “groundless ground” of emptiness as our primary identity is also flawed. When we try to dwell in emptiness and refuse to give the more conditioned aspects of our lives their proper due, we avoid taking seriously the legitimate requirements of our own karmic situation. Yet just because we are trying to avoid the relative world, it does not go away. Instead, our avoidance of karma that is calling to be dealt with creates its own difficulties in negative circumstances that will eventually surface and disrupt our lives and our spiritual paths.

We are unable to succeed in making the three kayas into secure, solid ego grounds because of their very nature — which is our very nature. The dharmakaya is the space of awareness, limitless and all-pervading, in which there is never any place for a concept of ego identity to take root — even an identity conceived as “emptiness.” The sambhogakaya manifests in the unceasing display of ever-moving and changing energy, and this continually dissolves any sense of “I,” even one that seeks identity in the process of change itself. And the practicality of the nirmanakaya is defined by the needs of others. Since these are always new and unanticipated — external to our agenda, and beyond our control — there is no ground for ego here either.

Even more, the three kayas are said to be ultimately indivisible. When we rest in our own inherent nature, in its purity (our buddhanature), we discover that our experience embodies the emptiness of the dharmakaya, the impermanence of the sambhogakaya and the practicality of the nirmanakaya, all at once. This indivisibility goes to the very heart of why we can never succeed in making an ego out of the three kayas. The dharmakaya — the “formless kaya” — is said to be “for oneself,” because it is the very essence of our own liberation. By contrast, the two other kayas — the “form kayas” — are said to be “for others,” because they embody compassion and practical assistance to others. Different as they may seem at first, each kaya implies and is inseparable from the others. The dharmakaya contains the seeds of the other two and, when it meets with the suffering of beings, naturally gives birth to them. For example, when we rest our mind fully in the emptiness of the dharmakaya, and encounter others in pain, we find that the inspiration to help others (the sambhogakaya) and the practical applications of this compassion (the nirmanakaya) arise in a natural and compelling way. In a sense, the more we rest in the dharmakaya, the more we are called to compassionate engagement with those in distress.

By the same token, the two form kayas imply the dharmakaya, and, in fact, can only function properly when they are transparent to its emptiness. This is so because only when the energy of the sambhogakaya and the practicality of the nirmanakaya are seen as without essence is their helpfulness to others able to be open, flexible and completely appropriate to what sentient beings need.

The classical iconographic representation of the Buddha’s realisation shows him touching the earth with his right hand, and calling the earth to witness his attainment. And what is this attainment? It is realising that our ultimate nature is nothing other than the three kayas of the Buddha. This is a realisation in which we see that there is not, nor ever was, any ground for ego at all.

Whether friend or enemy, there should be no attachment or aversion.

— Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche













從《阿含經》中看出,佛在世時,即使是大阿羅漢也還常在佛邊聽法心無厭足。大阿羅漢已是所作已辦的無學位,何以仍須聽佛說法?因為仍有所不知、所不能故。 在大乘佛法如《大智度論》中,龍樹菩薩提及彌勒菩薩到了等覺菩薩之高位,也還要聽佛說法;因為等覺菩薩距佛尚遠,仍有諸多不足之處,所以須繼續向佛學習。 何況吾輩凡夫更應恆學佛法、無有厭足。





從經論上看,凡夫也可以有神通!印度外道中一位大老師有神通,在禪定中見牛雞狗死後升天,故勸徒弟跟牛學、跟雞學、跟狗學,徒弟因為師父有禪定神通,他說的話決定是對,可以相信,所以依教奉行。由此可知,不學習佛法只是有神通,因果道理還未能懂,真是所謂「一盲引眾盲」了。我們漢文佛教裡也有同樣的情形, 以為這個人有威德、有神通,他說的就可信。其實不然!佛法是「依法不依人」,這也包括真實有神通的人在內。所以我們想要修學聖道,一定要注意這件事!《瑜伽師地論》說補特伽羅有欺詐性,故不可信;唯有法是可信的。










我們從無始劫來直到現在,無論遇見何事,起心動念就是「採集」,「採集」的同時還有執著。執著是通於一切惑業苦的;作善也執著、作惡也執著。就算是佛教徒,得無生法忍之前,拜佛也執著,讀經也執著。但是拜佛、讀經的執著中,有清淨而微弱的反動力,能違反生死趨向涅槃!雖然有此「逆流」之力,仍有執著。 「採集業」者,採集即是業,或者業由採集而有,專指世間流轉生死的動力而言。





現在約法說,「採集業為識」亦即是執著,實在就是心與無明相應之義。有無明而無智慧,這個識處處執著,表現出來的行動就有力量令於生死中流轉、難以解脫。 在《攝大乘論》中曾提及一事:譬如江河泉流,人見是水,餓鬼見是猛火,故恆受饑虛之苦。為何人見是水,而餓鬼見是猛火?此中有二義。一、行緣識:此人前世有良心廣作利益安樂眾生之善事,今世業熟得果,故隨福業識見是清水。而彼餓鬼前世造作眾多罪業,故隨罪業識見水非水而是猛火。二、無明緣識:人見的水、鬼見的火,皆非真實,如夢中境。然因無明之故,執為真實是水、真實是火,受其苦樂之報。若能學習佛法成就真慧則能無著於水火,衝破無明的蒙蔽與業果的束縛, 見第一義得大解脫。




除非修學聖道到了菩薩第八地,棄捨肉身得法性身,能遍入一切世界無有障礙,於一切境界中自在無礙,成就如是大自在力才叫解脫。凡夫就不行﹗不要說其他的果報世界我們不相應,即使在人的世界裡,若到別的國家,他給你三個月的簽證,到期你就得離開。這個身體實在有諸多問題,應生厭離心;對佛菩薩的大自在境界, 應生希求心、勤修聖道。


【頌】:不採集名智,觀察一切法, 通達無所有,










第一義:「一切法」即因緣生法。因緣和合,此法現前,即是現在;因緣未和合、未現前,名為「本」。「應知一切法」是現在的因緣生法;而「本性無分別」即指諸法未生之時,是無分別的。舉例言之,因緣所生法發生以後,或是一朵花,或是一棵樹,我們可以分別是蓮花、是菊花,是松樹、是柏樹,是青黃赤白種種顏色, 是大小枯榮各種形貌;若是一個人,則此人是男、是女,是胖、是瘦,是讀書人、不是讀書人,作各式各樣的分別。而這些分別在本性的時候是無所有的,故云「無分別」。如此言之,因緣生法本性無分別,則現前之時應有分別?若能尋思因緣生法現前雖有,而屬諸因緣,自性是空,則現在有分別時,即無分別。若復觀察因緣生法終歸無常敗壞之時,既不可得,還有所分別乎?







「言說」,即是我們的說話,是以一切文字、名句組成的;所以善於說話的人是讀書人。譬如小孩子初開始牙牙學語,母親告訴他「1、2、3、4、 5……」「媽媽、爸爸……」各式各樣的名句,他學多了,連接起來就會說話。所以名句和言說有緊密關係,沒有名句就不會說話;內心的思惟分別也要有名句為緣才能現起。











「名」是能詮顯的;「事」,也就是義,是名所詮顯的。「客」表示它不是真實的,來了還會走,也就是空的意思。「名事互為客」:因為有種種事才安立種種名, 名依事有,名則是自性空,非自性有;因為有名,才顯示有這件事,事依名顯,事亦是自性空。無名之時,名所示事不能自立,故云:「非離彼能詮,智於所詮轉。」名與事乃相依相待而有的。譬如說:某地發生一事,記者發表了一篇報導,名依事有;其它地區的人閱讀之後,才知某地發生什麼事,事依名有。記者若不寫這篇報導,其它地區的人則不知有此事,無名則無事;反之,若沒有那件事,也就沒有這篇報導了,無事則無名。又如說火、說飯,這只是火、飯的假名,並非口內真實有火、有飯。即所詮義,是自性空的;名亦是自性空的。



「唯量及唯假」:「量」是分別;「假」是不真實。當知彼自性、差別二事都是自心的分別,沒有真實體性。譬如做夢時,或者有人請吃飯、或者被狗咬,夢裡一切都像真的,醒了以後才知道無如許事。我們現在也都在無明大夢裡,執著真實有種種境界;但是為什麼你做這個夢,而我卻做那個夢?因為夢是行緣識──也就是業力所成就的,故人人不同。有人跑到天上做夢, 有人在人間做夢,有的則墮入三惡道做夢。若能覺悟,則夢與醒都是虛妄的、畢竟空寂的,即不執為實有。




















The essence of the Buddha’s teachings is that while formal practice can help us to develop direct experiences of emptiness, wisdom, and compassion, such experiences are meaningless unless we can bring them to bear on every aspect of our daily lives. It’s in facing the challenges of daily life that we can really measure our development of calmness, insight, and compassion.

— Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

Conventional Body View
by Prof. David Dale Holmes

People believe that everything they see and conceive of, including their so-called bodily selves, is fixed and permanently there to be used for fulfilment and enjoyment, yet this is not true and is based on delusional wrong view.

Identifying body awareness and arising consciousness with any sense of a permanent self is actually based on ignorance (Pali: avijja) — delusion about the self in the world and the way things really are, or ignorance of non-self.

Such wrong view is dependent on a delusive compulsion to nourish an egocentric need for a substantial sense of self-assurance; for an undeniable and absolute guarantee that we will always be able to nourish and feed our personal desires for continuing self-satisfaction and existence, which we wish to imagine can never be taken away.

This wrong view arises out of the dangerous and harmful part of the mind that greedily reaches after the things that it hopes and thinks will guarantee its lasting happiness, but which, in the long run, because of the impermanent nature of all things (Pali: anicca), in fact, leads to a continuing and disturbing sense of uncertainty; to insecurity and instability; to unhappiness and unsatisfactoriness, because things do not inevitably turn out to be the way we want them to be.

So how are we to understand the body?

The accomplished teacher Luang Phor Viriyang has said: “The first medium is the body. It refers to our physical body, which is capable of obtaining all of the feelings and emotions and communicating through its five senses. The body can co-function with the mind and it is also under its control.” (Viriyang 1)

And further: “One usually thinks of the body as his whole self.”

“Since the lifespan of our body is 50–100 years, human beings usually compete with their lifespan and try their best to use their bodies to the fullest potential.” (Viriyang 22)

In other words, for good or for worse, in the conventional sense, we try to get the most out of our lives and our bodies for as long as we can, for as long as they last, especially in terms of physical pleasure, because in our heads we mistakenly consider the body to be a source of satisfying sense experience, as being pleasurable and satisfying, despite the obvious fact that we eventually grow older and become weaker — inherently knowing we are slowly dying.

The so-called beauty of the body is a deeply embedded socio-cultural myth that the mind does not want to let go of. We must, however, learn to accept that the body (our own or another’s) is not a beautiful object in the way we would desire it to be. The body is not there in the world for the purpose of bringing us the fulfilment of our dreams.

Despite the truth that the body is not, in reality, at all what we imagine it to be within the distortions of our own mind’s eye, we foolishly continue believing in the reverse of the truth — ironically, often ignoring the undeniable physical indications of decay, deterioration, and dissolution, maintaining an attitude contrary to obvious visual and physical discrepancies that anyone else can see. Once we’ve understood this, then we must examine the nature of the body to see it not for what we might like it to be, but for what it actually is — which the Buddha describes in a well-known discourse as follows:

“In this body, there are head hairs, body hairs, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, tendons, bones, bone-marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, pleura membranes, spleen, lungs, large intestines, small intestines, gorge, faeces, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, skin-oil, saliva, mucus, fluid in the joints, urine, and so on.” (Nyanatiloka 119)

In the same dialogue, the Buddha uses an analogy to compare the body to a “fathom-length sack,” the kind that normally contains grain, open at two ends. But instead of containing grain, imagine it is stuffed full of the above-mentioned body parts and ask ourselves how we would feel if our own body sack were being shaken, so that we might see each body part as it was slowly slipping and sliding, slithering and falling, and that we could observe these individual body parts as they were slowly running down into a heap, piling up upon the ground. We would have ample time to examine and contemplate each of these body parts individually — accumulating there in a heap. (See Nyanatiloka 58–63)

Would we be enamoured with the physical body if we examined it in this way — as just an aggregate of components — being aware of its nature made up of compounded individual parts?

One who meditates on the body contemplates himself as just such a body, as just made up of individual parts. And that’s a good place to begin to see the body as it really is, and not as one might want it to be — as an independent entity, or as if one were somehow intellectually separated from the physical “bag of bones” itself.

No matter how well the body parts may function together to sustain life and even to provide momentary pleasures, they are still just body parts that have, through a natural process, merely come together to continue sustaining life.

Using a simile again, the Buddha goes on to say that it is as if “a skilled butcher or his apprentice, having killed a cow, would sit at a crossroad cutting it up into pieces . . .”

Elsewhere, the Buddha observes that even the king’s chariot is not a unity but merely made up of its individual parts. And thus the monk or mediator learns to contemplate the body as though it were just made up of component parts.

The Buddha states that this body is composed not only of component parts, but that the parts are made up of combinations of “matter, liquid, heat, and gas,” and this being so, we should know that this sack full of elements, in accordance with biochemical laws, contains an ever-changing process of arising and ceasing solidity, liquidity, burning energy, and gaseous aridity, which certainly has no fixed, permanent reality.

Imagine solidity turning, through heat, into liquidity, and burning as energy, then turning into invisible gaseous-aridity within your body. Imagine your body continually consuming itself. Can you imagine that?

The body is just a sack or sheath full of elements that are ever-changing, ever being burned up internally as sources of nourishment, and ever being replenished by new sources of energy.

So, what do you think? Do you assume that you are a fixed unity to be nourished? A so-called “self” to be satisfied, rather than a simple aggregation of component parts, made up of elements that in turn nourish the body parts with requisite energy in order to keep them moving and functioning?

How do you see your own body?

If you have not thought this process through before, perhaps it is time to start.

To know the four foundations intellectually is not enough. We have to contemplate and meditate on them until we personally experience them from the depth of our hearts the preciousness of this human life; and that our life’s end can come at any time. This is how you practise the four foundations. Although we have this precious human body with its 18 qualities, if we do not develop bodhicitta, love and compassion in our hearts, this human life is of no use. There are many material things in this world but none of them can accompany us at the moment of death. The only thing we can take with us from life to life until enlightenment is our development of love, compassion and bodhicitta.

— Garchen Rinpoche