Generosity in which adverse factors have disappeared, endowed with wisdom that is non-conceptual, completely fulfils all wishes, and brings all beings to maturity at the three levels.

— Maitreya

Maitreya 23.

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拨开迷雾

顶果钦哲仁波切

 
为了验证无生自性,我们必须溯源而上,认清我们意念的源头。要不然,一个念头会带出第二个念头,第二个会带出第三个,永无止尽。我们经常被过去的回忆所骚扰,被未来的期望所牵引,当下却毫无醒觉。
 
是我们的心,引领我们进入娑婆的迷途。对心真实的本性盲目,紧紧抓住自我本性所幻化出来的意念,以至觉性被固化成像是“我”和“他”、“可欲”和“可恶”,以及许许多多其它的概念。这就是我们创造娑婆世界的方式。
 
如果不让念头固化,如果能够认清念头的空性,那么每一个在心中生起和消失的念头,都能够让我们对空性的体现愈来愈清晰。
 
在最冷的冬天,寒冻使得湖川结冰;水变成固态,能够承受人、动物、和车。春天到来,大地和水温暖起来,开始解冻。冰原来的硬度到哪里去了?水是柔软的、流动的,冰是硬的、尖的,我们哪能说它们相同?但是我们又不能说它们不同,因为冰不过是固化的水,而水不过是溶化的冰。
 
我们对周围世界的觉受也是相同的。执着于现象的真实性,因吸引和排斥、享受与疼痛、得与失、有名与无名、称赞与责怪而感到痛苦,会在心中起了固化作用。我们必须将概念的冰化解为内在自由的水。
 
六道轮回和涅槃的一切现象都像彩虹一般的现起,而跟彩虹一样,他们并无具体实存。
 
一旦我们认识到实相的真实本性,也就是本性为空,却同时能现起为万象的世界,那么我们的心将不再受幻想所驱使。如果我们知道如何令念头在现起时即自我消融,它们就会像飞鸟划过天空一样地划过我们的心――不留下任何痕迹。
 
保持这种单纯的状态。如果遇见快乐、成功、繁荣,或者其它有利的条件,把他们视为梦和幻象,不要执着于它们。如果患上疾病、被人毁谤、权益被剥夺,或者遭受其它身体上或心理上的这么,不要灰心,反而要重新燃起慈悲心,发愿因着自己的痛苦,愿所有众生的痛苦能够烧尽。不管什么状况生起,勿喜勿悲,在不可动摇的宁静中保持自由、安适。
 
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (顶果钦哲仁波切) 70.
 

What is Dharma?
by Khen Rinpoche, Geshe Thubten Chonyi

WHAT IS MORE IMPORTANT – THE HAPPINESS OF THIS LIFE OR FUTURE LIVES?

“What am I looking for – the happiness of this life alone or the happiness of my future lives?” This is a very important question that we must ask ourselves every day. When we are more concerned with the happiness of this life, whatever Dharma practices we engage in become impure because the mind is controlled by the three mental poisons of anger, attachment and ignorance. If we are more concerned about our future happiness, then we have to think: “What can I do now that will definitely benefit me in my future lives?”

If we are honest with ourselves, we will find that instinctively, we are looking for the happiness of this life alone. As this is our main motivation for everything we do – whether we are reciting our daily prayers, listening to teachings, receiving initiations or consulting our gurus – all our actions are motivated by the afflictions and are only expressions of our desire to achieve the happiness of this life.

Because of this attitude, the Dharma practices we engage in may look like Dharma but in reality do not become Dharma and they will not benefit us in our future lives.

We need to shift our emphasis from focusing on the happiness of this life alone to placing greater importance on the happiness of our future lives. As Buddhists, we should accept the law of karma. Consider our lifespan. Maybe we can live till we are 60 years old, but compared to the duration of our future lives, we have to take rebirths for many eons to come. Based on this comparison alone, the happiness of our future lives is clearly far more important.

Whether we end up with good or bad rebirths depends on what we do in this life. If we end up with bad rebirths in our future lives, we will have to suffer for eons. Compared to the suffering we will have to endure then, this life’s suffering no longer seems so unbearable. Happiness in our future lives is definite, provided we create the causes now.

When our goal is the happiness of our future lives, then our actions will all become Dharma. Once they become Dharma, these activities will definitely benefit us in our future lives. Therefore, it is very important that we consider this very carefully: “Am I doing this for this life or for my future lives?” Whatever our answer may be, we then have to ask, “Why am I doing this for this life/my future lives? Which is more important – this life or my future lives?”

We should have the confident attitude: “What I am looking for is the happiness of my future lives.” What is the benefit of having this attitude? Because we place more importance on our future happiness, the three mental poisons will naturally weaken and we will experience more mental peace and happiness. Otherwise, when our motivation is focused on the happiness of this life alone, the afflictions only become stronger, leading to more unhappiness, problems and suffering.

From my side, it is my responsibility to tell you this. But whether this advice benefits you depends on you. Just listening to the advice does not help. You need to think about it, not just once but every day until you have some feeling or experience in your heart.

THE PURPOSE OF THE BUDDHADHARMA

There are only two goals for studying and practising the Buddhadharma – either the temporal goal of higher rebirth or the ultimate goal of liberation and full enlightenment. There are no other reasons for studying and practising the Dharma. It is not for improving one’s business, removing health obstacles or solving other worldly problems. The main reason is either to achieve a good rebirth or ultimate happiness, since we want happiness and not suffering. Obviously we also want the best form of happiness, which is liberation and full enlightenment. It is so important to remember this and to remind and ask ourselves all the time, “Why am I engaging in these studies and practices?” We should not be mistaken and confused about our goal. When people come to the Buddhadharma with the expectation that it will solve their worldly problems and things do not turn out according to their wishes, they become disappointed and lose faith in the Buddhadharma, abandoning and criticising the teachings. This happens because of the lack of clarity about what one is working for, and being too short-sighted with regards to what one wants to achieve.

Working for a good rebirth as a human being or a god is a bigger goal than just being concerned about this life. When we work at cultivating the causes for such a rebirth, this means avoiding negative actions and engaging positive actions. Such behaviour will naturally bring us fewer problems in our daily lives.

WHAT IS DHARMA PRACTICE?

This is very important – we must ensure that whatever practice we do becomes Dharma practice. Often, we seem to be practising Dharma, but most of the time, that practice does not actually become Dharma.

There is a historical account of a conversation between Dromtoenpa – Lama Atisha’s heart disciple – and a practitioner. One day, Dromtoenpa saw this practitioner circumambulating a stupa and he said to him, “It is good that you are circumambulating the stupa, but would it not be better for you to practise the Dharma?”

Upon hearing this, this practitioner thought that he should do something else. So, the next time Dromtoenpa saw him, he was reciting a sutra. Dromtoenpa said, “It is good that you are reciting this sutra, but would it not be better for you to practise the Dharma?’

This practitioner then thought that maybe Dromtoenpa was referring to meditation. He decided to go to his room and began to meditate. When Dromtoenpa saw this, he said to him, “It is good that you are meditating, but would it not be better for you to practise the Dharma?”

This practitioner was now thoroughly confused. He could not think of any other Dharma practices to do, so he went to Dromtoenpa and asked him, “What should I do? What is Dharma practice?” Dromtoenpa replied, “You have to give up this life.” What is the significance of Dromtoenpa’s reply?

1. It shows that Dharma practice is primarily done with the mind and not with the body or speech.

2. It shows that, in order to practise the Dharma, we have to give up our preoccupation with the happiness of this life, i.e., giving up the eight worldly dharmas because failing to do so means that our actions may look like Dharma but are not Dharma.

How do we give up our preoccupation with the happiness of this life? We have to reflect on how this human life of leisure and opportunity that we have is finite and will not last forever. Death will come. By reflecting on this repeatedly, we will be able to reverse the attraction to the preoccupations of this life.

LESSONS FROM LAMA YESHE

I was twelve years old when I went to Kopan monastery. Lama Thubten Yeshe was still alive then and he taught us by making us memorise questions and answers he had written and pasted on the wall.

There were many questions but one I can still remember was, “Why do we need to practise the Dharma?” The questions were in Tibetan, and at that time, I was more familiar with my native dialect, Sherpa. Still, I memorised the question even though I did not understand its meaning. The answer was: “We all desire happiness and do not want suffering. The only way to abandon all suffering is the practice of the Dharma. Therefore, we have to practise the Dharma.”

Another question was, “Just beating the drum, ringing the bell and performing the rituals – are these actions Dharma?” The answer to that was, “Beating the drum, ringing the bell and reciting mantras alone are not necessarily Dharma. Why? Because you can also teach animals to do these things.”

At that age, the young monks were all preoccupied with games and playing, but since we had to pass our examinations and memorisation tests, we had to memorise the questions and their answers even though we did not fully understand their content. I am telling you this story to emphasise that Dharma practice is performed primarily with our minds and not our bodies or speech. Reciting mantras, doing our daily commitments and prayers, knowing how to do some rituals – these things are not necessarily Dharma.

Practising the Dharma means improving our minds and weakening our afflictions, the nature of which is to disturb our minds, leading to suffering and unhappiness. Until the afflictions are eliminated, we will continue to experience problems and difficulties. The Dharma is the only way to eliminate afflictions.

THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN DHARMA AND NON-DHARMA

The way to make our practice Dharma is to reflect on Lam Rim topics such as the difficulty of obtaining a precious human rebirth and the nine-point meditation on death. These contemplations will gradually weaken our attachment to this life and also help us set a larger, more far-sighted goal. Gradually, all our actions will become Dharma.

Dromtoenpa was once asked, “What separates Dharma from non-Dharma?” His answer: “When the activity you are engaged in becomes an antidote to your negative emotions and afflictions, that activity is Dharma. When your activities are not an antidote to your afflictions, then it is not Dharma.”

We need to remember and reflect on these special instructions of the great Kadampa masters, especially the advice on the distinction between what is Dharma and what is non-Dharma. Whatever we do in our daily lives – our daily commitments, coming to class to listen to teachings and so forth – we must check to see whether these activities are Dharma or not.

If we find that we have been practising for years but are not getting anywhere, it is because our practice has not been Dharma. They have not been antidotes to our afflictions and the result is that we are stuck and unable to make any progress.

BEGINNING TO OVERCOME OUR AFFLICTIONS

The advice of the great Kadampa masters, especially the advice pertaining to the differentiation between what is real Dharma practice and what is not Dharma, is extremely important. In a nutshell, Dharma is any action that is an antidote to our negative emotions. You must keep this in mind.

From the moment you consider yourself to be a Dharma practitioner, you should always relate the teachings to the state of your mind and check if you are working to defeat your afflictions. Whatever you do – be it listening to the teachings, doing your daily commitments, practising generosity and so forth – you should check: “Will doing this help to weaken or even destroy my negative emotions?” and set the motivation, “I am doing this so that I can subdue my afflictions.” By sincerely setting such a motivation, the process of destroying our afflictions has already begun. Overcoming our negative emotions does not happen overnight. Although the realisation of emptiness is the direct antidote to them, we can start fighting them now with our determination and motivation.

When you listen to the teachings and find the advice useful or inspiring, try to put it into practice. Even if you are unable to apply the advice immediately, at the very least, think, “May I be able to do so in the very near future.”

INTEGRATING THE DHARMA WITH OUR MINDS

Gyalsab Je’s message is: “If you are someone who seeks liberation or enlightenment, you need to exert joyous effort especially when you have this human life of leisure and endowments; your faculties are complete; you are free of obstacles to your Dharma practice and you have the necessary conditions for your spiritual development. Having found this opportunity, you should not waste it but use it to engage in something beneficial for your future lives.”

Our problem is that we do not integrate the Dharma with our minds. For example, we have heard countless teachings on the precious human rebirth but our minds remain unmoved. Instead of reflecting on the topic, we feel bored, thinking “I have heard this so many times.” There is no feeling for and little interest in this subject. We should not allow ourselves to end up in this state.

It is important that we do not simply look like a practitioner from the outside – doing our commitments, prayers and practices – but feeling empty inside. If our minds don’t change, we will encounter many problems and much suffering at the time of death. It would be ridiculous if we finally ended up in the lower realms.

Therefore, whatever Dharma we engage in, make sure it becomes Dharma. Whatever virtuous actions we do, make sure they are virtue. We should check our minds all the time.

TRANSFORMING OUR MINDS FOR THE BETTER

The Kadampa masters said: “The purpose of all the Buddha’s teachings, the great treatises and commentaries that clarify the meaning of those teachings is to help us transform our minds for the better. When the mind does not improve, then even if we strive for eons to accumulate virtue with our bodies and speech, it is very difficult for those practices to become causes for liberation.”

This advice reminds us of the purpose of attending class and listening to the teachings, that is, to improve the quality of our minds. Regardless of the nature of our virtuous activities, we should always ask ourselves, “How does doing this help to improve my mind?”

Relying on mindfulness and vigilance when we engage in our Dharma practice, we should check to see if the practice is beneficial for our minds. If the mind does not change, it is like immersing a stone in water. No matter how long it stays there, the stone doesn’t change.

It is important to generate a pure and correct motivation for attending these classes. We should always remind ourselves why we are here, that we are here to learn how to improve our minds. The purpose of studying the Dharma is not to use it to check the minds and actions of others. Using the Dharma against other people is a mistake. That is not why we study the Dharma.

Khen Rinpoche Geshe Chonyi 6.

Mindfulness and awareness are meaningful and beneficial practices to keep our minds calm and alert, because once we lose track of our minds then dullness and agitation will steal away our mental stability and peace of mind, which are the life line of human beings. Therefore, it is important to practice mindfulness and awareness, but we should learn from qualified teachers who also practice everyday.

— Zurmang Gharwang Rinpoche

Zurmang Gharwang Rinpoche 17.

How should we understand taking rebirth?

When we ask the older generation, they take the teachings literally and say, for example, that if we do something very negative, we will be reborn in the lower realms. For the younger generation, however, it is easier to speak of states of mind, understanding these realms as different kinds of consciousness. The Karmapa replied that both understandings⎯as a mental state and as a place of taking birth⎯are possible. Good and bad rebirths depend on the karma we have created, and further, not only are we reborn in one of the six realms, but there are also the differences of our particular place of birth, the surroundings, the type of body we have, our mental state, and so forth.

“When we speak of the three lower realms,” the Karmapa explained, “they can be understood from the point of view of their cause and of their effect. Their cause is a mental state.” For example if someone becomes very angry, this can propel them into a rebirth in a hell realm. We usually speak of the hot hells, he said, and the mental state of anger feels as if we are burning, so it is like being in hell. Similarly, the hungry ghosts suffer from having huge desires and great miserliness. Their throats are said to be as thin as a needle and their stomachs as big as a mountain. This can be read as a metaphor for the mental state of needing a lot and being unable to give. So the answer to your question, the Karmapa concluded, is that taking rebirth is both: a mental state as a cause and a particular kind of rebirth as a result.

~Karmapa: Meeting with the Younger Generation of Tibetans in Switzerland
http://the17thkarmapa.blogspot.tw/2016/05/meeting-with-younger-generation-of.html

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