The Essence of Tibetan Buddhism - Amitabha Buddhist ?· The Essence of Tibetan Buddhism v THE ESSENCE OF TIBETAN BUDDHISM The Three Principal Aspects of the Path and an Introduction to Tantra BY LAMA THUBTEN YESHE
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The Essence of Tibetan Buddhism iii The Essence of Tibetan BuddhismThe Essence of Tibetan Buddhism iiiiv The Essence of Tibetan BuddhismThe Essence of Tibetan Buddhism vTHE ESSENCE OFTIBETAN BUDDHISMThe Three Principal Aspects of thePath and an Introduction to TantraBY LAMA THUBTEN YESHEEdited by Nicholas Ribushfor free distributionvi The Essence of Tibetan BuddhismPublished for free distributionAmitabha Buddhist Centre494-D Geylang RoadSingapore 389452Tel: 6745 8547 Fax: 6741 firstname.lastname@example.orgJan 2003 3000 booksKyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, 2002Please do not reproduce any part of this booklet by any meanswhatsoever without written permission fromLAMA YESHE WISDOM ARCHIVEISBN 1-891868-08X10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1Cover Photograph courtesy of Lee Chun SengPrinted byAd Graphic Pte Ltd745 Toa Payoh Lorong 5Singapore 319455Tel: 6747 8320email:email@example.comCompassionHighlightCompassionHighlightCompassionHighlightThe Essence of Tibetan Buddhism vii 3 193549The Three Principal Aspects of the PATHto EnlightenmentFirst TeachingSecond TeachingIntroduction to TantraFirst TeachingSecond TeachingTable of Contentsviii The Essence of Tibetan BuddhismAwakening a Kind Heart by Venerable Sangye KhadroBecoming Your Own Therapist by Lama Thubten YesheCompassion & Wisdom by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Tenzin GyatsoEssence of Tibetan Buddhism by Lama Thubten YesheGlimpse of Reality by Dr. Alexander Berzin & Venerable Thubten ChodronHow to Generate Bodhicitta by Ribur RinpocheI Wonder Why by Venerable Thubten ChodronThe Joy of Compassion by Kyabje Lama Zopa RinpocheLive with Compassion by Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche (English & Chinese editions)Making Your Mind an Ocean by Lama Thubten YesheMirror of Wisdom by Geshe Tsultim GyeltsenPerfect Freedom by Kyabje Lama Zopa RinpochePracticing the Good Heart by Kyabje Lama Zopa RinpochePurpose of Life by Venerable Thubten GyatsoThe Meaning of Life by Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche (English & Chinese editions)The Mind, Karma and the Bodhisattva Path by Venerable Thubten GyatsoThe Path to Happiness by Venerable Thubten ChodronOther titles printed by Amitabha Buddhist Centrefor free distribution:The Essence of Tibetan Buddhism ixTeachings from Lama Konchong by Geshe Lama KonchogKadampa Teachings by Geshe Lama KonchogTeachings from the Mani Retreat by Kyabje Lama Zopa RinpocheThe Direct and Unmistaken Method - The Practice and Benefits of the EightMahayana Precepts, Commentaries by Trijang Dorje Chang &Geshe Lamrimpa; compiled and translated by Kyabje Lama Zopa RinpocheTransforming Problems by Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche (Chinese edition)Transforming Problems into the Path by Venerable Thubten GyatsoWisdom Energy by Lama Yeshe & Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche (Chinese edition)Working with Anger by Venerable Thubten Chodronx The Essence of Tibetan BuddhismDedicationsBy the merits of printing this book, may all spiritual teachers teaching truepaths to enlightenment especially His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama- Tenzin Gyatso, Lama Ribur Rinpoche, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Lama OselRinpoche and Khen Rinpoche Lama Lhundrup, have long and healthy livesand continue to benefit sentient beings.May all the wishes, prayers and aspirations of all our sponsors andbenefactors and their loved ones be fulfilled in accordance with the HolyDharma. May all their obstacles be pacified and may they have good healthand success always.May all sentient beings have happiness and its causes.May all sentient beings be free of suffering and its causes.May all sentient beings not be separated from sorrowless bliss.May all sentient beings abide in equanimity, free of bias, attachment andanger.May whoever sees, touches, reads, remembers, talks or thinks about thisbook never be reborn in unfortunate circumstances, receive only rebirthsin situations conducive to the perfect practice of Dharma, meet a perfectlyqualified spiritual guide, quickly develop bodhicitta and immediately attainenlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings.The Essence of Tibetan Buddhism xiEditors IntroductionThis publication is the third in the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archivesseries of free booklets by Lama Yeshe, following the extremelypopular and well received Becoming Your Own Therapist and MakeYour Mind an Ocean.It differs, however, in that the material contained herein is alsoon video (see the back pages of this book for details), so that youcan now see and hear Lama Yeshe giving these teachings. We haveedited them less intensively than normal so that the text quite closelyadheres to Lamas original words and phraseology, making it easierto follow when watching the videos. For the same reason, we havealso left intact Lamas references to world events of the time, suchas the various Middle East dramas of 1979(80).Lamas teachings were dynamic events full of energy and laughter.He taught not only verbally but physically and facially as well. Thus,we encourage you to obtain the videos of these teachings in orderto get as total an experience of the incomparable Lama Yeshe aspossible.The first teaching, The Three Principal Aspects of the Path, wasgiven in France in 1982, during an FPMT-sponsored tour of Europeby His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Just before His Holinesssscheduled teachings at Institut Vajra Yogini, His Holiness manifestedillness and asked Lama Yeshe to fill in for a couple of days to baby-sit the audience, as Lama put it. This wonderful two-part teachingon three principal aspects of the path is the result.The second teaching, an Introduction to Tantra, also in twoparts, was given at Grizzly Lodge, California, in 1980. It comprisesthe first two lectures of a commentary on the Chenrezig yogamethod taught by Lama at the request of Vajrapani Institute,Boulder Creek. The entire course was videotaped and we plan toxii The Essence of Tibetan Buddhismmake available the remaining six tapes as soon as we can enhancetheir sound and picture quality.I am most grateful to Linda Gatter and Wendy Cook for theireditorial suggestions, which greatly improved this work.Nicholas Ribush1The Three Principal Aspects of the PATH to Enlightenment2 The Essence of Tibetan BuddhismAzt Vajra Yogini Institute, France, during an FPMT-sponsoredteaching tour of Europe in 1982, His Holiness the Dalai Lamamanifested ill health and asked Lama Yeshe to fill in for him for thefirst days teachings. The following teachings ensued.3The Three Principal Aspects of the PATH to EnlightenmentTHE THREE PRINCIPAL ASPECTSOF THE PATH TO ENLIGHTENMENTThe first teaching: renunciation, bodhicitta and emptinessToday, Im unfortunate. And today, youre unfortunate as well, becauseyou have to put up with me, the garbage man. You have to put upwith my garbage; Im the garbage man. Due to circumstance, HisHoliness is experiencing some discomfort with his health, so we shouldall pray for his good health...and so that it wont be necessary to be inthis situation, where you have to put up with my garbage. However,due to these circumstances, His Holiness has given me permission tobaby-sit you.Now, His Holiness has chosen a particular text by Lama Je TsongKhapa, which we call the Three Principal Paths to Liberation, orEnlightenment. So today Im going to try to give you an introductionto this text, but going into it in detail is not my business.In Tibetan, we call this text Nam-tso lam-sum. Historically, thisbook derives from Lama Je Tsong Khapas direct, visual communicationwith Lord Manjushri. Manjushri gave him this teaching and thenLama Je Tsong Khapa gave it to his disciples: Nam-tso lam-sum, theThree Principal Aspects. This is a small text, but it contains the essenceof the entire teaching of Lord Buddha. Also, while it is very simpleand practical, it is a universal teaching that everybody can understand.4 The Essence of Tibetan BuddhismNow, the three principles are renunciation, bodhicitta and the wisdom ofshunyata; these three are called the principal, essential paths to liberation.I want you to understand why they are called the three essential,or principal, paths to liberation, because in the Western world, theword renunciation has a different connotation; people get scaredthat they will lose their pleasure. But without renunciation, theres noway out.RenunciationFirst of all, all of us consider that we would like to be free from egomind and the bondage of samsara. But what binds us to samsara andmakes us unhappy is not having renunciation. Now, what isrenunciation? What makes us renounced?The reason we are unhappy is because we have extreme cravingfor sense objects, samsaric objects, and we grasp at them. We are seekingto solve our problems but we are not seeking in the right place. Theright place is our own ego grasping; we have to loosen that tightness,thats all.According to the Buddhist point of view, monks and nuns aresupposed to hold renunciation vows. The meaning of monks and nunsrenouncing the world is that they have less craving for and grasping atsense objects. But you cannot say that they have already given upsamsara, because monks and nuns still have stomachs! The thing isthat the English word renounce is linguistically tricky. You can say5The Three Principal Aspects of the PATH to Enlightenmentthat monks and nuns renounce their stomachs, but that doesntnecessarily mean they actually throw their stomachs away.So, I want you to understand that renouncing sensory pleasuredoesnt mean throwing nice things away. Even if you do, it doesntmean you have renounced them. Renunciation is a totally innerexperience. Renunciation of samsara does not mean you throw samsaraaway because your body and your nose are samsara. How can youthrow your nose away? Your mind and body are samsara as well, atleast mine are. So I cannot throw them away. Therefore, renunciationmeans less craving; it means being more reasonable instead of puttingtoo much psychological pressure on yourself and acting crazy.The important point for us to know, then, is that we should haveless grasping at sense pleasures, because most of the time our graspingat and craving desire for worldly pleasure does not give us satisfaction.That is the main point. It leads to more dissatisfaction and topsychologically crazier reactions. That is the main point.If you have the wisdom and method to handle objects of the fivesenses perfectly such that they do not bring negative reactions, its allright for you to touch them. And, as human beings, we should becapable of judging for ourselves how far we can go into the experienceof sense pleasure without getting mixed up and confused. We shouldjudge for ourselves; it is completely up to individual experience. Itslike French wines some people cannot take it at all. Even though theywould like to, the constitution of their nervous system doesnt allowit. But other people can take a little; others can take a bit more; somecan take a lot.6 The Essence of Tibetan BuddhismSo, I want you to understand why Buddhist scriptures completelyforbid monks and nuns from drinking wine. It is not because wine isbad; grapes are bad. Grapes and vines are beautiful; the color of redwine is fantastic. But because we are ordinary beginners on the pathto liberation, we can easily get caught up in negative energy. Thatsthe reason. It is not that wine itself is bad. This is a good example forrenunciation.Who was the great Indian saint who drank wine? Do youremember that story? I dont recall who it was, but this saint went intoa bar and drank and drank until the bartender finally asked him, Howare you going to pay? The saint replied, Ill pay when the sun sets.But the sun didnt set and the saint just kept on drinking. The bartenderwanted his money but somehow he controlled the sunset. These kindsof higher realizations we can call them miraculous or esotericrealizations are beyond the comprehension of ordinary people like us,but this saint was able to control the sun and drank perhaps thirtygallons of wine. And he didnt even have to make pee-pee!Now, my point is that renunciation of samsara is not only thebusiness of monks and nuns. Whoever is seeking liberation orenlightenment needs renunciation of samsara. If you check your ownlife, your own daily experiences, you will see that you are caught up insmall pleasures, we [Buddhists] consider such grasping to be atremendous hang-up and not of much value. However, the Westernway of thinking, I should have the best; the biggest, is similar to ourBuddhist attitude that we should have the best, most lasting, perfectpleasure rather than spending our lives fighting for the pleasure of a7The Three Principal Aspects of the PATH to Enlightenmentglass of wine.Therefore, the grasping attitude and useless actions have to beabandoned and things that make your life meaningful and liberatedhave to be actualized.But I dont want you to understand only the philosophical pointof view. We are capable of examining our own minds andcomprehending what kind of mind brings everyday problems and isnot worthwhile, both objectively and subjectively. This is the waythat meditation allows us to correct our attitudes and actions. Dontthink, My attitudes and actions come from my previous karma,therefore I cant do anything. Thats a misunderstanding of karma.Dont think, I am powerless. Human beings do have power. Wehave the power to change our lifestyles, change our attitudes, changeour habits. We can call that capacity Buddha potential, God potentialor whatever you want to call it. Thats why Buddhism is simple. It is auniversal teaching that can be understood by all people, religious ornon-religious.The opposite of renunciation of samsara, to put what Im sayinganother way is the extreme mind that we have most of the time:the grasping, craving mind that gives us an overestimated projectionof objects, which has nothing to with the reality of those objects.However, I want you to understand that Buddhism is not sayingthat objects have no beauty whatsoever. They do have beauty aflower has a certain beauty, but that beauty is only conventional, orrelative. The craving mind, however, projects onto an object somethingthat is beyond the relative level, which has nothing to do with that8 The Essence of Tibetan Buddhismobject, that hypnotizes us. That mind is hallucinating, deluded andholding the wrong entity.Without intensive observation or introspective wisdom, we cannotdiscover this. For that reason, Buddhist meditation includes checking.We call checking in this way analytical meditation. It involves logic; itinvolves philosophy. So Buddhist philosophy and psychology help ussee things better. Therefore, analytical meditation is a scientific wayof analyzing our own experience.Finally, I also want you to understand that monks and nuns maynot be renounced at all. Its true, isnt it? In Buddhism, we talk aboutsuperficial structure and universal structure. So when we say monksand nuns renounce, it means were trying, thats all. Westernerssometimes think monks and nuns are holy. Were not holy; were justtrying. Thats reasonable. Dont overestimate again, on that. Lay people,monks and nuns, were all members of the Buddhist community. Weshould understand each other well and then let go; leave things as theyare. Its unhealthy to have overestimated expectations of each other.OK, now Id better get back to business. I think thats enough ofan introduction to renunciation. Now, bodhicitta.BodhicittaBodhicitta is like this. First, you have to understand your own egoproblems craving, desire, anger, impatience; your own situation,your inability to cope, your own disasters within yourself and feel9The Three Principal Aspects of the PATH to Enlightenmentcompassion for yourself. Because of the situation youre in, start bybecoming the object of your own compassion. It begins from there:This situation Im in, Im not the only one with ego conflict andproblems. In all the worlds societies, some people are upper class,some middle and others low; some are extremely beautiful, some aremedium and others are ugly. But, just like me, everybody seekshappiness and does not desire to be miserable.In this way, a feeling of equilibrium begins to come. Somehow,deep within you, equilibrium towards enemies, strangers and friendsarises it is not merely intellectual but something really sincere. Itcomes from deep down; from the bottom of your heart.Buddhism teaches you the meditational technique for equalizingall living beings in the universe. Without a certain degree of equilibriumfeeling with all universal living beings, its impossible to say, I wantto give my life to others. Nor is it possible to develop bodhicitta.Bodhicitta is most precious, a diamond mind. In order to have spacefor bodhicitta, you have to feel that all universal living beings areequal.But I want you to understand the distinction between thecommunist and the Buddhist idea of equality. Its possible for you toexperience the Buddhist idea of equilibrium right now; you cantexperience the communist idea even after a billion years unlesseverybody has a gun! Its not possible.The point is that Buddhism considers that we should haverealization of equilibrium because we need a healthy mind. Equalizingothers is something to be done within my mind, not by changing10 The Essence of Tibetan Buddhismhuman beings externally. My business is not to be bothered by mentalprojections of disliked enemy, grasped-at friend or forgettable stranger.These three categories of object are made by my own mind; they donot exist outside.As long as you have as an object of hatred even one human being,as long as you have an overestimated object of craving desire, as longas you have an indifferent object of ignorance someone you ignoreand dont care about as long as you have the three poisons of hatred,desire and ignorance in relation to these three objects, you have aproblem. It is not the objects problem.How can I be happy if Elisabeth [the French interpreter] is mybiggest problem, my enemy? How can I be happy? Equilibrium issomething to do with the inner experience. Forget about bodhicitta,we all have a long way to go. What Im trying to express is that TibetanBuddhism and Lama Tsong Khapa consider that equilibrium is mostdifficult to realize. So, its worthwhile at least to try. Even though it isdifficult, try.Another way of describing equilibrium is to call it the middleway. That is why, from a practical point of view, in order for Buddhiststo be healthy we should have an equalized feeling with Western religionand eastern religion. We should have an equalized feeling and respectfor people who practice Christianity. Thats the way to be happy, andhappiness is your main business. I think its a mistake for Westernbaby Buddhists to think that Buddhism is better than Christianity.Its wrong. First of all, its not true, and secondly, it creates bad vibrationsand makes your mind unhealthy.11The Three Principal Aspects of the PATH to EnlightenmentI really feel that Buddhists can learn a lot from Christians. RecentlyI was in Spain and visited some Christian monasteries. Therenunciation and way of life of some of those Christian monks seemsmuch better than the renunciation Ive seen in many Tibetanmonasteries. Monks in Tibetan monastic communities often haveindividualistic attitudes, whereas the monks I saw in the Christiancommunities seemed to be completely unified. They had no individualpossessions. For me, those monks were objects of refuge. Of course, ifbeing individualistic is what an individual needs for his or her spiritualgrowth, thats all right. Thats why different religions exist.However, you should practice equilibrium in your daily life asmuch as you can. Try to have neither enemies nor objects oftremendous, exaggerated grasping. In this way, in the space of yourequilibrium, you can grow bodhicitta, the attitude dedicated to alluniversal living beings.Bodhicitta is an extremely high realization. It is the completeopposite of the self-cherishing attitude. You completely give yourselfinto the service of others in order to lead them to the highest liberation,which is beyond temporary happiness.Our thoughts are extreme. Sometimes we put too much emphasison and tremendous energy into activities from which we gain nothing.Look at certain athletes, for example; or people who put all their moneyand energy into motorcycle jumping and end up killing themselves.What for?Bodhicitta is very practical, I tell you. Its like medicine. The self-cherishing thought is like a nail or a sword in your heart; it always12 The Essence of Tibetan Buddhismfeels uncomfortable. With bodhicitta, from the moment you begin toopen, you feel incredibly peaceful and you get tremendous pleasureand inexhaustible energy. Forget about enlightenment, as soon as youbegin to open yourself to others, you gain tremendous pleasure andsatisfaction. Working for others is very interesting; its an infiniteactivity. Your life becomes continuously rich and interesting.You can see how easily Western people get bored; as a result, theytake drugs and so forth. They are easily bored; they cant see what elseto do. Its not that people who take drugs are necessarily unintelligent.They do have intelligence, but they dont know where to put theirenergy so that it is beneficial to society and themselves. Theyre blocked;they cant see. Therefore, they destroy themselves.If you dont want to understand bodhicitta as an attitude dedicatedto others and sometimes it can be difficult to understand it in thatway you can also think of it as a selfish attitude. Why? In practice,when you begin to open yourself to others, you find that your heart iscompletely tied; your I, or your ego, is tied. Lama Je Tsong Khapa[in his Three Principal Aspects of the Path] described the ego as aniron net of self-grasping. How do you loosen these bonds? Whenyou begin to dedicate yourself to others, you yourself experienceunbelievable peace, unbelievable relaxation. Therefore, Im saying, withthe selfish attitude [of wanting to experience that peace and relaxation],you can practice dedicating yourself to others.What really matters is your attitude. If your attitude is one ofopenness and dedication to all universal living beings, it is enough torelax you. In my opinion, having an attitude of bodhicitta is much13The Three Principal Aspects of the PATH to Enlightenmentmore powerful and much more practical in a Western environmentthan squeezing yourself in meditation.Anyway, our twentieth century lives dont allow us time formeditation. Even if we try, were sluggish. I was up too late last night;yesterday I worked so hard.... I really believe that the strong,determined, dedicated attitude of Every day, for the rest of my life,and especially today, I will dedicate myself to others as much as Ipossibly can is very powerful. Anyway, some peoples attitude towardsmeditation is that they want some kind of concrete concentration[right now]. Its not possible to develop concrete concentration in ashort time without putting your life together. And Westerners find itis very difficult to put their lives together; its the most difficult thing.Of course, this is just the projection of a Tibetan monk! However, ifyou dont organize your life, how can you be a good meditator? Its notpossible. How can you have good meditation if your life is in disorder?I dont know what Im saying! I think Id better control myself!EmptinessThe next topic is shunyata. But dont worry; His Holiness is going toexplain shunyata. However, what I am going to say is that these threerenunciation, bodhicitta and the wisdom of universal reality are theessence of Buddhism, the essence of Christianity; the essence ofuniversal religion. Theres no contradiction at all. Westerners easilyrationalize that when a Buddhist monk talks about these three topics,14 The Essence of Tibetan Buddhismhes on an Eastern trip, but these topics are neither Eastern culturenor Tibetan culture.Historically, Shakyamuni Buddha taught the four noble truths.To whose culture do the four noble truths belong? The essence ofreligion has nothing to do with any one particular countrys culture.Compassion, love, reality to whose culture do they belong? The peopleof any country, any nation, can implement the three principal aspectsof the path, the four noble truths or the eightfold path. Theres nocontradiction at all.Also, you have to understand that the transmission of these threeprincipal aspects of the path passed from Lord Manjushri to LamaTsong Khapa and from Lama Tsong Khapa down to the present time.Its not some exclusive Gelugpa thing; all four Tibetan traditionscontain these three principles. Do not hold the misconception thatthe four traditions practice differently. You cant say that Kagyu, Gelug,Sakya and Nyingma renunciations are different; that Gelug refuge isdifferent from Kagyu refuge. How can you say that? Even ifShakyamuni Buddha comes here and says, Theyre different, Imgoing to reject what he says. Even if Shakyamuni manifests here,radiating light, saying, Theyre different, Im going to reply, No,theyre not.People are easily deluded; they hallucinate easily. The first andonly thing you have to do in order to become a Buddhist is to takerefuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha; thats all. How, then, can yousay that Gelug refuge and Kagyu refuge are different? I want you tounderstand this. We have very limited concepts, limited orientation. I15The Three Principal Aspects of the PATH to Enlightenmentwant you to see how limited human beings are.Let me give you an example. Vietnamese Buddhists cannotvisualize a Tibetan Buddha. Tibetans cannot visualize a ChineseBuddha. It is very difficult for Westerners to visualize a JapaneseBuddha. Does that mean you ignore all these other Buddhas? Doesthat mean you discriminate, I take refuge in only Tibetan Buddhas?Or, I take refuge in only Western Buddhas. I give up Eastern Buddhas;I give up Japanese Buddhas. Do you understand how we are limited?This is what I call human beings limitation. They cannot understandthings on the universal level and project in a culturally limited way sothat their ego has something to hang on to; the Buddha that eachnations Buddhists hang on to is but an object of their ego-grasping.Also, Ive checked Western people out scientifically. Many Westernershave studied Tibetan thangka painting and the Buddhas they createare completely different. The Buddhas they paint are completelywesternized, even though the dimensions are fixed precisely accordingto the Tibetan style and the examples they copy are also Tibetan. Thisis my scientific experience. This shows that human do things throughonly their own limited experience.Anyway, I think it is such a pity that Gelugpas dont want to takerefuge in objects that Nyingmapas also take refuge in, such asPadmasambhava. Its written in many Gelug Tibetan texts that LamaJe Tsong Khapa was a manifestation of Padmasambhava. Maybe I canalso say that Lama Je Tsong Khapa was a manifestation of Jesus.Well, I tell you, misconceptions can arise from when you first takerefuge. But you have to learn that taking refuge is not simple; its very16 The Essence of Tibetan Buddhismprofound. If, at the very beginning, you take refuge with a fanaticalunderstanding of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, you freak out; youbecome a Buddhist fanatic. If you are truly Buddhist, my advice is totake refuge in the buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions. Inthe ten directions theres no division into west or east. Sometimes Ithink that orientation through the eye sense is not so good. Anyway,Buddha and Dharma are not objects of the eye sense.The Christian way of explaining God as something universal andomnipresent is good. Actually, thats a good way of understandingthings, better than My Buddha; my Dharma; my Sangha. Thatsrubbish! That itself is the problem. If you get attached to the particularobject of my lama or my things, its ridiculous. Buddha himselfsaid that we should not be attached to him, or to enlightenment, or tothe six paramitas. We should not be attached to anything.Well, times almost up. I still feel its unfortunate that His Holinesscould not come. I really feel that inviting His Holiness is like havinga second Buddha come to this earth. Therefore, it is unfortunate thathe cannot be here and you have to put up with such garbage an ordinaryperson like me.MeditationBut lets meditate for a couple of minutes. Send out our white, radiantlight energy to purify all obstacles. Especially from our heart, we aresending white, blissful radiating light energy to His Holiness.17The Three Principal Aspects of the PATH to Enlightenment[Meditation.]And from His Holiness the Dalai Lamas heart, a white radiating lightOM MANI PADME HUM mantra comes to our heart.[Meditation.]Our entire nervous system, from our feet up to our crown, is purified by theOM MANI PADME HUM mantra coming from His Holinesss heart.[Meditation.]18 The Essence of Tibetan Buddhism19The Three Principal Aspects of the PATH to EnlightenmentTHE THREE PRINCIPAL ASPECTSOF THE PATH TO ENLIGHTENMENTThe second teaching: emptinessGood afternoon. Again, unfortunately, I have to come here and talknonsense to you. However, I heard that His Holiness is feeling muchbetter this afternoon. This morning I spoke very generally on thesubjects of renunciation and bodhicitta. Now, this time, I will talkabout the wisdom of shunyata.From the Buddhist point of view, having renunciation of samsaraand loving-kindness bodhicitta alone is not enough to cut the root ofthe ego or the root of the dualistic mind. By meditating on andpracticing loving-kindness bodhicitta, you can eliminate grossattachment and feelings of craving, but the root of craving desire andattachment are ego and the dualistic mind. Therefore, withoutunderstanding shunyata, or non-duality, it is not possible to cut theroot of human problems.Its like this example: if you have some boiling water and put coldwater or ice into it, the boiling water calms down, but you haventtotally extinguished the waters potential to boil.For example, all of us have a certain degree of loving kindness inour relationships, but many times our loving kindness is a mixture half white, half black. This is very important. Many times we start20 The Essence of Tibetan Buddhismwith a white, loving-kindness motivation but then slowly, slowly itgets mixed up with black magic love. Our love starts with puremotivation but as time passes, negative minds arise and our lovebecomes mixed with black love, dark love. It begins at first as whitelove but then transforms into black magic love.I want you to understand that this is due to a lack of wisdom you not having the penetrative wisdom to go beyond your relativeprojection. You can see that thats why even religious motivations andreligious actions become a mundane trip when you lack penetrativewisdom. Thats why Buddhism does not have a good feeling towardsfanatical, or emotional, love. Many Westerners project, Buddhismhas no love. Actually, love has nothing to do with emotionalexpression. The emotional expression of love is so gross; so gross not refined. Buddhism has tremendous concern for, or understandingof, the needs of both the object and the subject, and in this way, loving-kindness becomes an antidote to the selfish attitude.Western religions also place tremendous emphasis on love andcompassion but they do not emphasize wisdom. Understandingwisdom is the path to liberation, so you have to gain it.Now, as far as emotion is concerned, I think for the Western world,emotion is a big thing, for some reason. However, when we react to or relatewith the sense world, we should somehow learn to go the middle way.When I was in Spain with His Holiness, we visited a monasteryand met a Christian monk who had vowed to stay in an isolated place.His Holiness asked him a question, something like, How do you feelwhen you experience signs of happy or unhappy things coming to21The Three Principal Aspects of the PATH to Enlightenmentyou? The monk said something like, Happy is not necessarily happy;bad is not necessarily bad; good is not necessarily good. I wasastonished; I was very happy. In the world, bad is not too bad; goodis not too good. To my small understanding, that was wisdom. Weshould all learn from that.Ask yourself whether or not you can do this. Can you experiencethings the way this monk did or not? For me, this monks experiencewas great. I dont care whether hes enlightened or not. All I care isthat he had this fantastic experience. It was helpful for his life; Imsure he was blissful. Anyway, all worldly pleasures and bad experiencesare so transitory knowing their transitory nature, their relativenature, their conventional nature, makes you free.The person who has some understanding of shunyata will haveexactly the same experiences as that priest had. The person sees thatbad and good are relative; they exist for only the conditioned mindand are not absolute qualities. The characteristic of ego is to projectsuch fantasy notions onto yourself and others this is the main rootof problems. You then react emotionally and hold as concrete yourpleasure and your pain.You can observe right now how your ego mind interprets yourself,how your self-image is simply a projection of your ego. You can checkright now. Its worth checking. The way you check has nothing to dowith the sensory mind, your sense consciousness. Close your eyes andcheck right now. Its a simple question, you dont need to query thepast or the future just ask yourself right now, How does my mindimagine myself?22 The Essence of Tibetan Buddhism[Meditation.]You dont need to search for the absolute. Its enough to just ask about yourconventional self.[Meditation.]Understanding your conventional mind and the way it projects your own self-image is the key to realizing shunyata. In this way you break down the grossconcepts of ego and eradicate the self-pitying image of yourself.[Meditation.]By eliminating the self-pitying imagination of ego, you go beyond fear. All fearand other self-pitying emotions come from holding a self-pitying image of yourself.[Meditation.]You can also see how you feel that yesterdays self-pitying image of yourself stillexists today. Its wrong.[Meditation.]Thinking, Im a very bad person today because I was angry yesterday,I was angry last year is also wrong, because you are still holding todayan angry, self-pitying image from the past. You are not angry today. Ifthat logic were correct, then Shakyamuni Buddha would also be bad,because when he was on earth, he had a hundred wives but was stilldissatisfied!23The Three Principal Aspects of the PATH to EnlightenmentOur ego holds a permanent concept of our ordinary self all thetime this year, last year, the year before: Im a bad person; me, me,me, me, me, me. From the Buddhist point of view, thats wrong. Ifyou hold that kind of concept throughout your lifetime, you becomea bad person because you interpret yourself as a bad person.Therefore, your egos interpretation is unreasonable. It hasnothing whatsoever to do with reality. And because your ego holdsonto such a self-existent I, attachment begins.I remember His Holiness once giving an audience to about twentyor thirty monks at a Christian monastery and His Holiness askingone of the monks, What is your interpretation of emptiness? Oneof them answered, From the Christian point of view, non-attachmentis shunyata. What do you think about that? For me, somebodyshaving an experience of non-attachment is super. Dont you think itssuper? Attachment is a symptom of this sick world. This world is sickbecause of attachment. Do you understand? The Middle East is sickbecause of attachment. Oil-producing countries are sick because ofattachment. Am I communicating with you or not? And that Christianmonk experienced non-attachment. What do you think of that?From the Buddhist point of view, it is very difficult for a personto experience non-attachment; its very difficult. For that reason, forme, it is extremely good if somebody, even somebody from anotherreligion experiences it. And that, too, is a reason for having theconfidence to respect other religions.How many Buddhists here have experienced non-attachment?None? Surprise, surprise! Well, excuse me; Im just joking. But it is24 The Essence of Tibetan Buddhismvery important to have the experience of non-attachment; it is veryimportant for all of us.Now, I want you to understand what attachment means. We canuse this piece of electricians tape as an example. From the Buddhistphilosophical point of view, attachment for something means that itsvery difficult for us to separate from it. In this example, the attachmentof the electricians tape is no problem because it is easy to loosen, easyto reattach and easy to loosen again. But, we have a very strongattachment-strong like iron-for the things we think of as being verygood. So, we need to learn to be flexible.Lets look at this flower from the Buddhist point of view. Myattachment for the flower is a symptom. It shows that I overestimatethe value of the flower. I wish to become one with the flower andnever separate from it for the rest of my life. You understand now,how sick I am? It is so difficult for me to let go of it. What do youthink? Am I crazy? This craziness is attachment. But, non-attachmentis flexible; it is a middle way, a reasonable way. Let go.Do you understand? The psychology of attachment isoverestimation; it is an unrealistic attitude. Thats why we are suffering;and for that reason Buddhism emphasizes suffering, suffering, suffering.The Western point of view is that Buddhism overemphasizessuffering. Westerners cant understand why Buddhism talks aboutsuffering so much. I have enough money. I can eat. I have enoughclothes. Why do you say Im suffering? Im not suffering. I dont needBuddhism. Many Westerners say this kind of thing. This is amisunderstanding of the term suffering. The nature of attachment25The Three Principal Aspects of the PATH to Enlightenmentis suffering.Look at Western society. The biggest problem in the West isattachment. Its so simple. From birth, through school and up toprofessorship, or whatever one achieves, the Western life is built byattachment. Of course, its not only the Western life attachmentcharacterizes the life of each and every sentient being but why Imsingling out the West is because Westerners sometimes have funnyideas about the connotation of happiness and suffering.Philosophically, of course, you can research shunyata very deeply;you can analyze the notion of the self-existent I a thousand ways. Buthere Im talking about what you can do practically, every day, rightnow, in a simple way. Dont think about Buddhist terminology; dontthink about what the books say or anything like that. Just ask yourselfsimply, How, at this moment, do I interpret myself? Thats all.Each time you ask yourself that question you get a different answer,I tell you. Because sometimes youre emanating as a chicken; sometimesas a pig; sometimes as a monkey. Then you can laugh at yourself:What Im thinking is incredible! Im a pig. But you shouldnt worrywhen you see yourself as a pig. Dont worry; just laugh. The way youcheck, the way you question yourself, should just make you laugh. Inthat way you get closer to shunyata. Because you know somethingthrough your own experience, you know that your own projection ofyourself is a fantasy and, to some extent, you experience selflessness.You no longer trust your own ego, and your concepts become lessconcrete.Analytical meditation shouldnt make you sad or serious. When26 The Essence of Tibetan Buddhismyou really understand something, you can laugh at yourself. Of course,if youre alone, you shouldnt laugh out loud too much, otherwisepeople will think youre clinically sick! Milarepa is a good example.He stayed alone in the snowy mountains and laughed and sang tohimself. What do you think about that? Do you think he was sick?No. He laughed because his life was rich and he was happy.Your entire life is built by dualistic concepts. If its not, you cantfunction in society, in the relative world. In order to become a part ofnormal society, you have to develop incredible dualistic concepts. Manyof the things in this world that we consider to be knowledge, wisdomand education are aspects of the dualistic mind; the reaction they bringis just more suffering.What is the dualistic mind? Actually, dual means two, but inBuddhism, our complaint is not that two phenomena exist. Theproblem is their contradictory, competitive nature. Is the competitivemind comfortable or not? Is the competitive life comfortable or not?Is competitive business comfortable or not? The mind is irritated.The mind in which there are two things always contradicting eachother is what we call the dualistic mind.Simply put, when you get up in the morning after a good nightssleep, do you feel peaceful or not? Yes, you feel peaceful. Why? Becauseduring sleep, the dualistic mind is at rest to some extent!As long as the dualistic mind is functioning in your life, you arealways irritated; you have not attained the peace of ultimate reality.Thats why single-pointed concentration is very useful. Single-pointedconcentration is very useful for cutting the gross dualistic mind,27The Three Principal Aspects of the PATH to Enlightenmentespecially when you want to recognize and contemplate on your ownconsciousness. Its very powerful for eliminating dualistic concepts.This is what is taught in Tibetan mahamudra, or dzog-chen.The purpose of meditation is to stop the irritating concepts thatwe call dualistic mind. Of course, there are many levels to this. Thedualistic mind has many gross levels and many subtle levels, and theway to eliminate it is to start with the gross [and progress to the subtle].But now I dont know what Im talking about, so instead of my goingon, Blah, blah, blah, why dont we do some questions and answers?If I keep on talking, Im sure Ill just create more confusion moredualistic mind for you. Therefore, its better that we have a questionand answer session.Q: If you think that detachment is necessary, non-attachment isnecessary, why should we be attached to one philosophy?Lama: We should not be attached to any philosophy. We should notbe attached to any religion. We should not have any objectsof attachment. We should not be attached to God. We shouldnot be attached to the Bible. We should not be attached toBuddha. Thats very good. Thank you; thats a very goodquestion. That question is very important. It shows us thecharacter of Buddhism. Buddhism has no room for you to beattached to something, for you to grasp at something. Buddhasaid even grasping at or having attachment to Buddha is wrong.As long you are sick, even if you possess diamonds, you are28 The Essence of Tibetan Buddhismstill sick. All symptoms of attachment have to vanish for youto become a completely liberated human being. For thatreason, Buddhism has room for any philosophy, any religion,any trip, as long as it is beneficial for human growth.Q: What is the difference between attachment and compassion?Lama: Compassion understands others lack of pleasure and theirsuffering situation. Attachment is I want; I want concernfor our own pleasure. Compassion is concern for otherspleasure and the determination to release other sentient beingsfrom their problems. But many times we mix our compassionwith attachment. We begin with compassion but after sometime attachment mixes in and it then becomes an attachmenttrip. Thank you; thank you so much.Q: Are non-duality and bodhicitta the same thing?Lama: No. Remember what I said at the beginning: it is not enoughto have just renunciation and loving-kindness bodhicitta.Thats not enough for us. We need wisdom to cut throughdualistic concepts and see the universal reality behind them.This is very important. Without wisdom, our bodhicitta andlove can become fanatical. If we understand non-duality, itsall right, bodhicitta can develop easily.29The Three Principal Aspects of the PATH to Enlightenment[The following three paragraphs are not on the video:]Q: Theres a Zen koan that says if you see the Buddha on theroad, kill him. Would the interpretation of this be that if yousee the Buddha on the road, you have attachment to Buddha,so kill the attachment, not the Buddha?Lama: No. But this can be interpreted in many different ways. Letssay I see you as the Buddha. I probably have an incredibleprojection, so its better that I kill that. First of all, the way toseek the Buddha is not outside. The Buddha is within; thatswhere we should seek. When we begin, we seek in the wrongplace. Thats what we should kill. But we should not kill likeJim Jones did, by poisoning his followers.Q: Is it enough if we stop the conceptualization of the mind sothat the I ceases to exist?Lama: Yes. For practical purposes, yes. But philosophically, its notso clear. Practically speaking, whether we talk a lot about it ornot, we know that in our own lives, it is extremely difficult tostop our obsessed concepts. And we are not flexible. Therefore,it is better to stop them as much as you can, but you cant stopthem completely, just like that unless you completelyextinguish yourself.30 The Essence of Tibetan BuddhismQ: Is mantra important to destroy the ego?Lama: Yes. But of course, it has to be an individual experience. Bythe time youre a first stage bodhisattva, you no longer needmantra. Then, theres no such thing as an external mantra.You yourself become the nuclear essence of mantra, becauseat that time you have discovered the absolute mantra. At themoment, we play around with the relative mantra, but letshope that we eventually discover the absolute mantra.Q: I understood from what you said before that emotions arenegative, but is not the quality of the emotions the qualitiesof the person, him- or herself?Lama: I said if your daily life is tremendously involved in emotion,you are completely driven by them and psychologically tied.Therefore, you have to learn to sit back instead of beingimpelled by your emotions. Also, I did not say that emotionsare necessarily negative. Emotions can be positive too. Butwhat Im saying and Im making a generalization is thatin the Western environment, when we relate with each otherwe get tremendously emotional. In other words, ourphysical emotions get too involved and we dontunderstand the functioning of our six sense consciousnesses.Q: How can we live without attachment and without desire? Its31The Three Principal Aspects of the PATH to Enlightenmenttoo difficult.Lama: I agree with you! Yes. Its too difficult. Thats why we humanbeings do not find it easy to develop responsible attitudesand stop our own problems we need to be involved indoing this our entire life. Being mindful, being conscious, isnot an easy job. Youre right. But theres a way to transformdesire, a way to transform attachment. In that way, theenergy of desire and attachment becomes medicine, the pathto liberation. Its like when you mix poison with certain othermedicines it can become medicine. What is an example?Marijuana and hashish can be medicine, cant they? They maynot be good, but when you can transform their energy theycan become medicine.That is the beauty of the humanbeing; we have powerful methods for transforming one thinginto something else.Tibetan Buddhism has many methods for transforming desireand attachment into the path to liberation. We place greatemphasis on these methods. Red chili, for example, is not sogood alone, but when you mix reasonable quantities of itwith your food, it becomes delicious.Therefore, I want you to understand this question. Accordingto the Buddhist point of view, there is no human problemthat cannot be solved by human beings. Each one of youshould understand this personally and encourage yourself bythinking, I can deal with all my problems; I can solve my32 The Essence of Tibetan Buddhismproblems. That attitude is essential for your spiritual growth.Even though we may not be much good as meditators orspiritual practitioners, I truly believe that if we have someunderstanding and encouragement, we can all solve ourproblems. Most of the time, we fail to understand our owncapacity. We put ourselves down. Thats why in TibetanBuddhism we see ourselves as Buddha. Im sure youve allheard that kind of thing. [Video ends here.] Dontmake a tremendous gap by thinking that Buddha is way upin the sky and you are way underneath the earth. That is goodenough. Thank you; I wont take up any more of yourtime. Thank you so much.33Introduction to Tantra34 The Essence of Tibetan Buddhism35Introduction to TantraINTRODUCTION TO TANTRAFirst teachingMaybe we are going to practice tantric yoga, but its not easy to do. Inorder to practice tantric yoga we need a foundation thepreliminaries. First of all, in order to practice tantric yoga, we need toreceive an empowerment, or initiation. There are degrees of initiation,but we do need initiation. In order to receive an initiation, we need acertain extent of realization of the three principal paths toenlightenment, which are the wisdom of shunyata, bodhicitta andrenunciation. Therefore, it is not easy.When I say its not easy, the sense is not that its a difficult job interms of money. I mean its difficult because of our present level. Imsaying its difficult to practice tantric yoga without a proper foundation,without the right qualifications. Why is it difficult? Because of ourlevel. If we check out our own reality, our present situation, do wehave some kind of small understanding of the reality of our own mind?The nature of the mind has two aspects, its relative nature and itsabsolute nature. Do we know our own minds relative nature? If weknow the relative nature of our own mind, its easy to direct our mindsattitude. That is each individuals responsibility to check out.Then, theres bodhicitta. Bodhicitta is a heart thats open to other36 The Essence of Tibetan Buddhismpeople rather than totally closed. Im not talking from the philosophicalpoint of view: You should be open to other people; if you are closed,Im going to beat you. Im not talking that way. If you are not open,the symptoms are great you suffer a great deal, youre in conflictwith yourself and you experience much confusion and dissatisfactionas you already know; as you already experience every day.The sense of being open is also not so that others will give youpresents, that youll get chocolate cake. Thats not the way, althoughnormally we are like that. Of course, we are not buddha, but to someextent we should have an inner, deep, perhaps intellectualunderstanding, some discriminating wisdom, that the human need isnot simply temporal pleasure. To some extent, we all have temporalpleasure, but what we really need is eternal peace. Having that highestof destinations is the way to be open. It eliminates the problems ofeveryday life we dont get upset if someone doesnt give us somesmall thing. Normally we do. Our problem is expectation. We graspat such small, unworthy things. That grasping mind is the problem; itproduces the symptom of reacting again and again and again. Lastyear we reacted in a negative way and this year, its the same or worse.Thats how it seems. Were supposed to get better and better but ourproblems are still overwhelming.Philosophically, perhaps we can say that karma is overwhelming consciously and unconsciously. Dont think that karma is justyour doing something consciously and then ending up miserable.Karma also functions at the unconscious level. You can do somethingunconsciously and it can still lead to a big result. Todays problems in37Introduction to Tantrathe Middle East are a good example. Thats karma. They started offsmall, but those little actions have brought a huge result. As a matterof fact, thats karma.In order to have the enlightened attitude, an attitude thattranscends the self-pitying thought, you need the tremendous energyof renunciation of temporary pleasure renunciation of samsara. Ithink you know this already. What do we renounce? Samsara.Therefore, we call it renunciation of samsara. Now Im sure youregetting scared! Renunciation of samsara is the right attitude. The wrongattitude is that which is opposite to renunciation.You probably think, Oh, thats too difficult. Its not difficult.You do have renunciation. How many times do you reject certainsituations, unpleasant situations? Thats you renouncing. Birds anddogs have renunciation. Children have renunciation if they wantto do something for which theyll get punished, they know how to getaround it. Thats their way of renunciation. But all that is notrenunciation of samsara. Perhaps your heart is broken because of sometrouble with a friend so you change your relationship. Anyway, yourfriend has already given you up so you have to do the same thing andrenounce your friend. Neither is that renunciation of samsara.Perhaps youre having trouble coping with society so you escape intothe bush, like an animal. Youre renouncing something, but thats notrenunciation of samsara.What, then, is renunciation of samsara? Be careful now its notbeing obsessed with the objects of samsaric existence or with nirvana,either. Perhaps some people will think, Now that Im not concerned38 The Essence of Tibetan Buddhismwith pleasure, now that Im renounced, I would like to have pain.That, too, is not renunciation of samsara. Renouncing the sensepleasures of the desire realm and looking for something else instead,grasping at the pleasures of the form or formless realms, is still thesame old samsaric trip.Say youre practicing meditation, Buddhist philosophy and so forthand somebody tells you, What youre doing is garbage; nobody inthis country understands those things. If somebody puts the nail ofcriticism into you like that and you react by getting agitated and angry,it means that your trip of Buddhism, meditation or whatever is alsosamsaric. It has nothing to do with renunciation of samsara. Thats aproblem, isnt it? Youre practicing meditation, Buddhism; you thinkBuddha is special, but when somebody says, Buddha is not special,you get shocked. That means youre not free; youre clinging. You havenot put your mind into the right atmosphere. Theres still somethingwrong in your mind.So, renunciation of samsara is not easy. For you, at the moment,its only words, but the thing is that renunciation of samsara is themind that deeply renounces, or is deeply detached from, all existentphenomena. You think what Im talking about is only an idea, but inorder for the human mind to be healthy, you should not have theneurotic symptom of grasping at any object whatsoever, be it pleasureor suffering. Then, relaxation will be there; that is relaxation. Youdont have superstition pumping you up. We should all have healthyminds by eliminating all objects that obsess the ego. All objects. Weare so concrete that even when we come to Buddhism or meditation,39Introduction to Tantrathey also become concrete. We have to break our concretepreconceptions, and that can only be done by the clean clear mind.For example, when you see an old tree in the distance and think thatits a human being, your superstitious mind is holding that wood as ahuman being. In order to eliminate your egos wrong conception, youhave to see that collection of energy as wood. If you see that cleanclear, the conception holding that object as a human being willdisappear. Its the same thing: the clean clear mind is the solution thateliminates all concrete wrong conceptions.Because our conceptions are concrete, we are not flexible.Somebody says, Lets do it this way, but you dont want to change.Only you are right; other people are wrong.Tied by this kind of grasping at samsaric phenomena at theconception level, it is difficult for you to see the possibility of achievinga higher destination. You are trapped in your present limited situationand can see no way out of it.Practically, renunciation means being easygoing-not too muchsense pleasure and not so much freaking out. Even if you have somepain, theres an acceptance of it. The pain is already there; you cantreject it. The pain is already there, but youre easygoing about it.Perhaps its better if I put it this way-youre easygoing with theeight worldly dharmas. I think you already know what they are. Ifyou are easygoing with them, thats good enough. You should notthink that renunciation is important simply from the Buddhistphilosophical point of view in order to reach liberation. Renunciationis not just an idea; you should understand renunciation correctly.40 The Essence of Tibetan BuddhismShakyamuni himself appeared on this earth. He had a kingdom;he had a mother and a father; he drank milk. Still, he was renounced.There was no problem. For him, drinking milk was not a problem-ideologically, philosophically. But we have a problem.Another way of saying all this is that practicing Buddhism is notlike soup. We should approach Buddhadharma organically, gradually;we are fulfilled gradually. You cant practice Dharma like going to asupermarket, where in one visit you can take everything you wantsimultaneously. Dharma practice is something personal, unique. Youdo just what you need to do to put your mind into the rightatmosphere. That is important.Perhaps I can say something like this: Americans practice Dharmawithout comprehension of the karmic actions of body, speech andmind. American renunciation is to grasp at the highest pleasures;Americans try to become bodhisattvas without renunciation of samsara!Is that possible? Perhaps you cant take any more of this! Still, be careful.Im saying that theres no bodhisattva without realization ofrenunciation. Please, excuse my aggression! Well, the world is full ofaggression, so some of it has rubbed off on me.Of course, actually, we are very fortunate. Just trying to practiceDharma is very fortunate. But also, its good to know how the gradualpath to enlightenment is set up in a very personal way. Its not juststructured according to the object. If you know this, it becomes verytasty. Of course we cant become bodhisattvas all of a sudden, but ifyou can get a clean clear overview of the paths gradual progression,youll approach it without confusion.41Introduction to TantraDharma brothers and sisters are often confused because of theDharma supermarket. There are so many things to choose from. Aftera while you dont know whats good for you. The first time I went toan American supermarket I was confused; I didnt know what I shouldbuy and what I shouldnt. So, its similar. You should have clean clearunderstanding. Then you can act in the right direction with confidence.So, you should not regard the three principal paths to enlightenmentas a philosophical phenomenon. You should feel that they are thereaccording to your own organic need.If you hunger for sentimental temporal pleasure, its not so good.You dont have a big mind. Your mind is very narrow. You shouldknow that pleasure is transitory, impermanent, coming and going,coming and going like a Californian friend going, coming, going!When you have renunciation, you somehow lose your fanatical, over-sensitive expectations. Then you experience less suffering, your attitudeis less neurotic, and you have fewer expectations and less frustration.Basically, frustration is built up by superstition, the samsaric attitude,which is the opposite of renunciation of samsara. Following that, youalways end up unbalanced and trapped in misery. We know this. So,you should see it clean clear. That is the purpose of meditation.Meditation is not on the level of the object but on that of the subject you are the business of your meditation.The beauty of meditation is that you can understand your ownreality, and if you understand your own problems in this way, you canunderstand all living beings situation. But if you dont understandyour own reality, theres no way you can understand others, no matter42 The Essence of Tibetan Buddhismhow hard you try I want to understand whats going on with myfriend you cant. You dont even understand whats going on inyour own mind. So, meditation is experimenting to see whatshappening in your own mind, to know the nature of your own mind.Then, as Nagarjuna said, if you understand your own mind, youunderstand the whole thing. You dont need to put effort into trying tounderstand whats going on with each person individually. You dont needto do that.We talk about human problems; we talk about our own problemsevery day of our lives. The reason I have a problem with you is becauseI want something from you. If I didnt want something from you, Iwouldnt have a problem with you. Thats why the lam-rim teachesthat attachment, grasping at your own pleasure, is the source of painand misery, and being open, concerned for other peoples pleasure, isthe source of happiness, realization and success. For some reason, itstrue; even on the materialistic level. I tell you, actually forget for amoment about Buddhadharma and the universal sentient beings-evenif you simply want good business, somehow, if you have a broad viewand want to help other people your family, your nation somehow,for some reason, you will be successful. On the other hand, if you areonly concerned for me, me, me, me, me, always crying that me isthe most important thing, youll fail, even materially. Its true; evenmaterial success will not be possible.Many people, even in this country, have material problems becausethey are concerned for only themselves. Even though society offersmany good situations, they are still in the preta realm. I think so, isnt43Introduction to Tantrait? You are living in America but youre still living in the preta realm of the three lower realms, the hungry ghost realm; you are stillliving in the hungry ghost realm.Psychologically, this is very important. Dont think that Im justtalking about something philosophical: You should help other people;you should help other people. Im saying that if you want to be happy,eradicate your attachment; cut your concrete concepts. The way tocut them is not troublesome just change your attitude; switch yourattitude, thats all. Its not really a big deal! Its really skillful, reasonable.The way Buddhism explains this is reasonable. Its not something inwhich you have to super-believe. Im not saying you have to try to bea superwoman or superman. Its reasonable and logical. Simplychanging your attitude eliminates your concrete concepts.Remember equilibrium? Equilibrium does not mean that I equalizeyou externally. If that were so, then youd have to come to Nepal andeat only rice and dhal. Equilibrium is not to do with the object, its todo with the subject; its my business. My two extreme minds desire,the overestimated view and grabbing, and hatred, the underestimated viewand rejecting conflict, destroying my own peace, happiness and lovingkindness. In order to balance those two, I have to actualize equilibrium.The minute your fanatical view and grasping start, the reaction ofhatred has already arrived. They come together. I think you haveexperienced this; we do have experience. The minute somethingbecomes special for you, breaks your heart, in that minute, the oppositemind of hatred has come. They are interdependent phenomena. Forsome reason, by having an ego, the tendency is always to be unbalanced,44 The Essence of Tibetan Buddhismextreme. We have so many problems individual, personal problems;they all come from the extreme mind.Actually, you should pray not to have desirable objects of thefanatical view. Youre better off without them. They are the symptomsof a broken heart and lead to restlessness. You should be reasonable.You can see that some peoples relationships are reasonable. Therefore,they last for a long time. If peoples relationships start off extreme,how can they last? You know from the beginning, they cannot last.Balance is so important.The thing is, why dont we have good meditation? Simply whydont we have good meditation? Why cant we concentrate, even for aminute? Because our extreme mind explodes; internally, theres anuclear blow-up. Thats all. Were out of control. We should learnhow to handle that explosion.First of all, this problem is not something that has happened byaccident. We should know that theres an evolution to its existence.Therefore, our first order of business should be to investigate theextreme view of our ego mind.Now, Im going to go quickly. This morning you did the meditationof contemplating on your breath in an easygoing way. But asmeditators, we are also extreme. The reason is that samsara is sooverwhelming and our reaction is, I want to meditate; I shouldmeditate. We push and push, pump and pump; were very unnatural.Thats no good. Then our minds freak out. Then we dont like comingto the meditation center; we want to escape to the jungle. We makeourselves like that; we beat our mind. That is unskillful. Its true. I45Introduction to Tantrathink most meditators are unskillful like me. Unskillful.The thing is, saying it another way, we are too intellectual. Eventhough we dont learn intellectual philosophy, we are still intellectual.Intellectually, we push ourselves this way and that. Its unnatural. Weare unnatural. Thats the problem. We are so artificial. Were artificial,plastic intellectuals; were a new type of plastic product-plasticintellectuals!We should be happy. Approaching Dharma, approachingmeditation, we can be happy. It means we want to be happy. We knowwe all want to be happy, but we often misunderstand lam-rim andDharma. We think that when we come to Buddhism, we should suffer;our lives should be ascetic; we should be mean to ourselves. Thatshould not be the case. You love yourself, you have compassion foryourself, so you should not put in tremendous, tight effort when youmeditate. You should not put in tremendous effort! You should learnto let go. Actually, its true meditation is easygoing; using simplelanguage, its easygoing.So, contemplate your breath without expecting good things tohappen or bad things to happen. Anyway, at that time, its too late tobe concerned whether good or bad things are going to happen.Whatever comes comes; whatever doesnt come doesnt come. At thatmoment, you cant do anything about it. So, contemplate your breath.Now, when you reach the point where maybe there are neither goodthoughts nor bad thoughts, just medium, it means youre successful.At that time, according to your level, just let go; let go. Have noexpectations of whats happening, whats going to happen, whats really46 The Essence of Tibetan Buddhismhappening no expectations. Just let go.When distractions come perhaps your ego imagines, Oh, Imgetting pleasure dont reject them; contemplate such notions. In thatway, you can reach the point where the first notion disappears, whichshows that the appearances your ego imagines are false. When theyclear, contemplate the resultant clarity. If you are unable to contemplatethat clarity, move your mind a little by thinking, I have just caughtmy ego muddying my mind with illusions and overestimatedconceptions; so many living beings suffer from such conceptions andare unable to catch them as I can, and generate much compassion orbodhicitta. You can also generate the determination to release othersentient beings from that ignorance, while being aware that, At themoment, I dont have the ability to really lead other sentient beingsinto clarity, therefore, I need to clear up my own mind more.Then go back to contemplating your own thought again. Throughyour own experience, you know that your mind, or thought, orconsciousness, has no color or form. Its nature is like a clean clearmirror that reflects any phenomenon. That is your mind, yourconsciousness, your thought. The essence of thought is perfect clarity.The movement of thought creates conflict, but when you investigatethe nature of the subject, you find that the essential character ofthought, even bad thought, is still perfect clarity. It is clean clear, likea mirror, and reflects even irritating objects. Therefore, when evenbad thoughts come, dont get upset, dont cry, and dont criticize yourself instead, use the technique of simply being aware; just contemplatethe clarity of the subject, your own mind. If you do that, it will again47Introduction to Tantrabecome clear, because clarity is its nature. Similarly, when goodthoughts come, instead of getting busily distracted by the object, againcontemplate the clarity of the subject, your own mind.Another way of saying this is that when you have a problem ofthinking, This is a good thought; this is a bad thought, rememberthat in fact, both types of thought are unified in having clarity as theirnature. If I pour two glasses of water into one container and shake itup, the water looks disturbed but the nature of the water from bothglasses is still clean clear. Shaking them up together doesnt turn thewater into fire; it still retains its clean clear water energy.Sometimes it looks complicated when we present the threeprincipal paths to enlightenment in the Tibetan way, but actually,theyre very simple. When you are contemplating and a thought arises,move from that thought and practice renunciation. When anotherthought comes, move from that to bodhicitta. Then again go backand contemplate the clarity of your own consciousness. Thats easy youre just moving your mind into renunciation, bodhicitta orshunyata. Youre doing well! Youre making your life worthwhile.When we explain the lam-rim, we can go into so much detail. Youcan explain renunciation so extensively that you could spend thirtydays talking about renunciation alone; and thirty days on bodhicittaalone; and thirty days on shunyata alone. Maybe we need all that, butwhen youre practicing, you can put those three together such thatjust one movement of your mind becomes renunciation; onemovement becomes bodhicitta; one movement becomes shunyata.You can do this. Sometimes when we give extensive explanations you48 The Essence of Tibetan Buddhismthink, Wow; this is too much. But if you put it practically, whenyou practice, the lam-rim can become in some ways small.Perhaps thats enough for today. However, when you reach thepoint of clean clear comprehension, just leave your mind on that. Letgo and dont intellectualize.49Introduction to TantraINTRODUCTION TO TANTRASecond teachingWhen we are seeking liberation, or inner freedom, there are twovehicles, which we call the Hinayana vehicle and the Mahayana vehicle.When somebody is seeking liberation, there are two things. Hinayanaand Mahayana are Sanskrit terms, but if we translate their meaninginto English, they mean the small attitude and the great attitude.The small attitude is, well, we already have a small attitude!Especially when were in trouble: I want happiness, liberation,freedom. The I want attitude leads to small action, small vehicle,small boat. Mahayana means the great attitude; thats what we aretrying to do.When I mention these two vehicles of Hinayana and Mahayana,perhaps you think Im putting the Hinayana doctrine down. Thatsnot the case. Im not interested in giving you philosophicalcomprehension. You already have more philosophical comprehensionthan a supermarket has stuff. Also, when I talk about Hinayana andMahayana small mind and great mind Im not talking aboutdoctrine. Im talking about us.We mean well; we want to practice Mahayana. Wed like to be asopen as possible. We want to go that way, even with hardship. But the50 The Essence of Tibetan Buddhismnarrow mind is overwhelming. It keeps on coming all the time. Maybeintellectually we try to be as open as possible but the narrow mindoverwhelms us yet again. Therefore, it is not easy to be a Mahayanist.Both Atisha and Lama Tsong Khapa said that it is not enough for apersons religion to be Mahayana; the person himself or herself mustbecome Mahayana.This is similar to what a Kadampa geshe once said: It is notenough that your doctrine is dzog-chen; you yourself must be dzog-chen. Dzog-chen means great completion, so he was saying that it isnot enough for your doctrine to be complete; you yourself must becomplete. Thats clear, isnt it? Of course, we talk about Mahayanaphilosophy, so perhaps we can say we are all Mahayana philosophers,because we talk, talk, talk about it. But we are not Mahayanists. It is asort of realization; a level, or state, of mind. Intellectually you cantsay, Oh, today I learned some Mahayana philosophy so Im aMahayanist. You cant say that; its not possible. Until I have solvedcertain problems, until I have transformed something, until somechange has happened in my mind Im happier, more open, moresatisfied in myself only then can I say, Im a Mahayanist.Anyway, I dont want to talk too much that way. Id better attendto the business at hand. In America we dont have time to do so manythings, do we? Better make sure we finish.So, the business at hand is that both Hinayana and Mahayanapractitioners are seeking liberation by understanding the nature ofsamsara, but one of them is making tremendous effort on the basis of,I am the suffering one; I cannot stay there in this way. I want to51Introduction to Tantraliberate myself. The emphasis is on liberating me. Great vehiclepractitioners, Mahayanists, dont cry so much. Even though they haveproblems, they are more concerned about other peoples problemsthan their own. Thats the difference.Thats why we say that bodhicitta is the door to enter the Mahayanavehicle. Thats why bodhicitta is the principal, most essential need forstopping the problem of the self-pitying, self-cherishing thought.Therefore, if you are a Mahayanist, you have bodhicitta. What makesyou a bodhisattva is having the realization of bodhicitta.Then perhaps you will think, Im seeking enlightenment; thats whyIm meditating. I desire to reach enlightenment; thats why Ive cometo this meditation course. So how can that be?Let me give you an example. Say you are hungry and you go to arestaurant. In some restaurants they have a system where before youcan get your food, you have to buy a ticket. Once you have a ticket,then you can get the food. Some places are like that. Your principalaim is to get food to stop your hunger, isnt it? To do that, you have tostart by going through the business of getting a ticket. Its the samething: we are Mahayanists; our job, our duty, is to serve other people.That is our principal aim, not getting enlightenment. We should notcry and grasp, Enlightenment, enlightenment, enlightenment; Imunhappy. I want to be happy. That is not principal. Now you can seethe difference.There are two things. A bodhisattva has two goals, two destinations:to help other people and to become self-sufficient by receivingenlightenment, by becoming totality. If we grab that It is more52 The Essence of Tibetan Buddhismimportant that I become enlightened its partial. But still we haveto do it. Its not the principal thing, its partial, but we still have to getthe ticket in order to solve problems and help other sentient beings. Ithink this example is clear, isnt it?Still, some people debate philosophically. The Western mind issneaky, always intellectualizing this and that. They say that since desireand grasping at sense pleasure is the irritant that leads to the cycle ofconfusion, one should not wish to get enlightened or to help otherpeople that that is also desire. Some people argue that way. Theysay that youre in bondage whether youre bound by wire or by silveror gold; whatever it is that binds you, youre still bound. Therefore,we should be completely free of any kind of wish. Many people saythis. Have you heard that kind of thing? That kind of wrongphilosophical debate is a waste of time.They are different. Can you see the difference? Dont be confusedabout important things. Wishing to open other people, especially tothe highest destination, enlightenment, is very important. I think youknow this already and I dont need to talk too much about it. So,bodhicitta is the open, enlightened attitude or, saying it anotherway, the healthy mind. Instead of using the Sanskrit the healthymind. No irritation; plenty of room. Thats all. That is bodhicitta.Citta is Sanskrit; it means mind, in the sense of heart. Heart feeling iswhat we need. We need that attitude, not just an intellectualexplanation. Normally, Western people say, I need so much love;nobody loves me. They say that kind of thing, dont they? Use thatexpression in the reverse way: We need the totally opened attitude. It53Introduction to Tantratakes care of all the problems that the narrow attitude brings. If youhave this attitude you make yourself a complete human being thatsa better way of putting it because you have completecomprehension. Otherwise, youre in the dark shadow of ignorance.You can see one thing but the rest is in the dark. You know that. Evenin everyday life, you need some kind of complete comprehension tokeep your house and family together. If the husband sees only onething, he cannot see the totality of his familys needs especially inAmerica! Its the same thing with the wife. Of course, a womancomprehends things differently than a man does, but again, she seesonly one thing and cannot see totality, what is needed for a totallysatisfied life or total mental integration.These examples are very good. Our lifestyle deteriorates becausewe dont put our life together. We dont see the totality of our needs.When we dont see totality we cant see how everything is interrelated when we move one thing, everything else moves too. We have toknow that.Anyway, the enlightened attitude of bodhicitta allows your energyto expand universally. You develop a broad view. Now, one who hasbodhicitta can follow one of two vehicles, the Paramitayana and theTantrayana. The Paramitayana is like the lam-rim, where youunderstand karmic causation and recognize your own profound ability,or potential, to solve completely all levels of ego problem, not justthose on the human level. The Paramitayana takes you through thethree principal paths to enlightenment and your job is to actualize thesix paramitas. You know this already; Im just repeating it. That is the54 The Essence of Tibetan BuddhismParamitayana. Practicing in that way leads you to enlightenment. Butdont think that the enlightenment the Paramitayana path leads youto is a small enlightenment, whereas Tantrayana leads you to a greatenlightenment. The enlightened experience that results from followingboth these yanas is the same; the way they function is where theydiffer.Paramitayana and Tantrayana differ in that Tantrayana has theskillful wisdom by which you put totality together. Tantrayana hasthat kind of key. The Paramitayana also has a key, but its path is slow.The Paramitayana practitioner cannot put two things togethersimultaneously and keep going. To do that is difficult. Like my cook,Babaji he cant be in the kitchen and here listening to teachings atthe same time! Thats his problem. The practitioner of Tantrayana hasthe skill and intelligence to both see reality clean clear in a penetrativeway and simultaneously keep going in a unified way. Theres a greatdifference between the two.For example, Lord Shakyamuni, the present Buddha, discoveredenlightenment after struggling for three countless great eons; threecountless great kalpas. Shakyamuni himself made a long journey andled a very ascetic life. Some people say he did not eat for six years;others say he ate the fruit of the palm tree. Palm trees bear fruit [dates].If we Americans tried to survive on that, we couldnt; wed die. Backthen, maybe the taste was different from what it is today; maybe betterthan chocolate. Who knows how it was at the time?There are different explanations about the way he becameenlightened. We cant go into detail here; it takes too much time.55Introduction to TantraHowever, one explanation is that when he came to earth he was atenth stage bodhisattva, ready to become enlightened in just a second.And while he was in samadhi during the ascetic phase of his life, otherbuddhas awoke him from his samadhi, saying, Hey, what are youdoing? Youre having a good meditation, but thats not enough foryou to expand into totality. So they gave him the four great initiations,including the third and the fourth initiations, and he becameenlightened.So, why did he show that aspect? Normally we say show becausehe was already enlightened before he came to earth and everything hedid in his life was just a show.The reason is that, from the tantric point of view, withoutpracticing tantra, it is not possible to discover enlightenment. Followingthe Paramitayana alone can take you to only the tenth bodhisattvabhumi, or level, and without receiving initiation and practicing tantra,theres no way to achieve enlightenment. This is tantric propaganda!Im joking! There are many reasons for this, but without practicingtantra, you cant fully open; the extremely subtle mind cannot function.Its something like that.The difference between Paramitayana and Tantrayana is that theTantrayana has the skillful methods whereby you can use desire objectsthat usually bring reactions of confusion and dissatisfaction in thepath to enlightenment; by practicing tantric yoga, you can transformthe energy of desire into the path to enlightenment. We call it takingdesire as the path to enlightenment, but it is dangerous if you do notunderstand what these words mean; it takes some research to56 The Essence of Tibetan Buddhismunderstand them correctly.Once, during Lord Buddhas time, a king asked him, As a king, Ihave so much business to attend to, so many responsibilities in takingcare of my nation and so many pleasures. Given my situation, pleasegive me a method to quickly discover enlightenment. ThenShakyamuni gave him the method of Tantrayana.You can see why Lord Buddha gave the king such teachings fromthe way he asked, but the person practicing Tantrayana has to havethe skill to transform daily pleasures into the path to enlightenment.Lets take our body as an example. As a matter of fact, our body comesfrom the functioning of desire, doesnt it? Desire made this body; egomade this body. Our grabbing ego made this body manifest, comeout. However, instead of looking at it negatively, we should regard itas precious. We know that our body is complicated, but from theDharma point of view, instead of putting ourselves down with self-pity My body is a heavy burden; I wish it would disappear weshould appreciate and take advantage of it. We should use it in a goodway.So, my example is Im not going to miss my example thepoint is that despite where the body comes from, the way it manifests,despite the fact that its not so easygoing, that its complicated, thisbody has great ability; it can do so much. With this body, not onlycan we take care of our food and clothing, but we can also reachbeyond that; we have the opportunity to gain the eternal goals ofliberation or enlightenment. Thats why our human body is precious;thats the point. We can use it in a good way, even though it is57Introduction to Tantrapotentially poisonous in that it can create more complications,confusion, suffering, loneliness, dissatisfaction and samsaric rebirthsfor us. If we can change in a positive way, we can feel grateful forhaving this body and make it worthwhile.Its similar with our daily pleasures, our sense pleasures. Normally,grasping at sense pleasures brings the reaction of confusion and soforth. We know that. Now, Paramitayana and Tantrayana both leadto enlightenment, but even though at the beginning it might looklike contact with sense pleasures is negative, Tantrayana gives us thepowerful skill to transmute desire into the blissful path toenlightenment. Thats why the wisdom of tantra is perfect.And especially, when you practice tantra, instead of thinking, Im aproblem; my egos a problem; Im a weak person; I need... instead ofthinking of yourself with self-pity, think, I am the Buddha; I amChenrezig; I am universal compassion. The difference is unbelievable.Theres a huge difference.Paramitayana does not have the skillful means whereby you think,Im Buddha; Im an emanation of the Buddha. You already knowthat theres no such thing. But with Tantrayana, My body is a buddhabody as clean clear as crystal, and radiating light; my speech ismantra whenever I open my mouth, good things manifest; mythought is wisdom. Somehow, you become transcendental; you bringthe enlightenment experience into the now. That is the beauty ofTantrayana.From the cultural point of view, when you people look at me, Immumbling mantras with this mala, Im wearing these strange clothes;58 The Essence of Tibetan BuddhismIm surrounded by strange art and so forth. You get culture shock.And sometimes youre in conflict: Why do I need these things? Whydo we have these things? I dont want this Tibetan trip. And when itcomes to mantra: Why do mantras? Id be better off saying coffee,coffee, coffee, coffee!One way, Tibetan Buddhism says that liberation is an inner thing,but the other way, it has too many external things. But were not yetbuddha; thats why we need help. We need help. Actually, mantra isan inner thing. We do mantra in order to develop comprehension.Thats a small example. What Im saying is that to recite mantras, wedont need a rosary. People practicing Tibetan Tantrayana dont needrosaries! Its true. Thats what we should understand. But of course,sometimes they can be useful too!Now Im a little lost somewhere!So, by using a skillful method, its possible for your life to becomea transcendental experience. Your life can perhaps become anenlightened experience. Maybe I shouldnt use those words, but I thinkit can become an enlightened experience.But you should not be in conflict or get mixed up when in oneway you have the Tantrayana recognition that, I am Chenrezig; I amthe Buddha; I am totality, and in another way you again have to doall the relative things [like saying mantras].Tantrayana is the way to achieve the perfect body, speech andmind we need in order to help other people. The purpose of meditationis not to reach nirvana and then disappear. If that were the case, itwould be better that you manifested as a flower. The purpose is to59Introduction to Tantraemanate in the beautiful, radiant, white light body of Chenrezig, asclean and as clear as crystal. That emanation can really help people.Sometimes Westerners worry, Im practicing meditation so much;perhaps eventually Ill disappear into nothingness. Then what can Ido? Better learn Tantrayana and instead of disappearing, emanate asAvalokiteshvara transform the purity of your consciousness intothe complete, pure body of Avalokiteshvara.Perhaps I can put it together this way. Each of us does have apsychic, or conscious, body as well as a physical body. It is not thisblood and bone body that we are radically transforming into Chenrezig.Its not that radically, my body becomes Chenrezig. But myconsciousness, or psyche, can transform. Perhaps you can say that oneaspect of my psyche is already Chenrezig.For example, each day of our life we manifest differently. Whenwe get angry, a wrathful manifestation comes out. Sometimes wemanifest as Chenrezig, loving-kindness, and try to give all of our body,speech and mind to others. You can see; you become an entirelydifferent person. We know this according to our own and each otherslives. Sometimes our dear friend becomes so good, like Chenrezig.And sometimes so wrathful that we get hurt and our heart breaks.You can see this objectively, if you look at one person; weve allexperienced it. We dont know whats happened to this person: Whathappened to him? What makes this change happen? For thirty yearsthe person is one way and then all of a sudden, hes the opposite. Wewant to understand why it has happened but we dont understand. Ofcourse, I dont understand either.60 The Essence of Tibetan BuddhismSo, that is the beauty of the human being. Human beings have somany aspects, qualities good and bad and differentmanifestations. If you are sensitive, you can see them through theaura, or vibration especially Californian people. They always say,Oh, those are not such good vibrations; oh, very good vibrations.Sometimes it seems that they are very sensitive, but Im not sure aboutthat. Im doubtful! I dont know what that is! Maybe thats a newexpression. We know people who use that kind of language. But thoseexamples are similar. Tantrayana has reasonable scientific explanations;its not something imaginary. It relates to the circumstances of ourlife.Both Buddhist sutra and tantra say that the nature of the humanmind is clean clear light; clean clear mind. So what Im saying is thatthe nature of our consciousness has always been clean clear; is cleanclear; and will always be clean clear. You dont need to worry about it. But we talk about delusions and confusion. What about that?Delusion is not the character of our consciousness. Clouds are not thecharacter of the sky. You have to change the attitude that thinks likethat. Fundamentally, we are wrong when we think, I am delusion;Im a bad person who always has bad thoughts; who always acts badly.You cannot sum up your whole, I am this. Its not true. You cannotput limitations on even your own reality. You cannot; you should not.Each of us has problems and difficulties, but we also have somethingsimilar to buddha and bodhisattva energy within us. We do; we do.For example, sometimes when Im talking I get surprised at whatIm saying. I dont know what Im saying. Thats a good example, isnt61Introduction to Tantrait? Im an ignorant person, talking like this, and somehow some wisdomalso comes out. I cant believe it myself! Its true. I dont think Im anenlightened being. I dont. But for some reason, good things sometimescome out along with the bad things.So we should not make limitations when we judge ourselves.Actually, its like they say in the West: you hear what you want to hear.Exactly like that. When you look within yourself, the quality youwant to see appears. If you want to see the bad guy, the bad guy appears;if you want the good guy, the good guy appears. Its true. The thing isnot to identify with your delusions. The quality you look for appears.The example I like to use for the Western mind is that in the world,there are so many men and women. As a matter of fact, everybody ishandsome or beautiful. Can you imagine? Somewhere, theres someonewho finds you handsome or beautiful. There is; there is. So, that isscientific evidence that we are all handsome; we are all beautiful.Because some mind says you are beautiful even though you areugly! But it functions in that way. When some person sees you ashandsome or beautiful, thats exactly the way it works for that person.Lets say I think all of you are beautiful or handsome; for me, thatshow you appear; for me, thats reality. But maybe somebody else thinksyoure all ugly. I dont care what he thinks; thats his business. Whatappears to me is my business; thats what affects me. Anyway, you cansee thats how reality is.Look at modern society. Many people put themselves down; thatstheir worst problem. You can see this everywhere in the world; peopleput limitations on themselves, on their own reality. This reality, this62 The Essence of Tibetan Buddhismjudgment of the neurotic ego, is the human problem. Tantra has themethods to eliminate this immediately. So, you become the deity,having the divine pride that you yourself are a buddha, fully complete,and in that way you eliminate the ordinary ego projection.Also, in this way objects you see dont irritate you. Objects dontirritate you. Now, when you see certain people, you immediately getirritated. Thats karma. Something within you is magnetized; it is notout there. You have the preconceived notion, He looked at me withhis eye this way; therefore, I dislike him. You have a preconceivedidea. We all do; to some extent, we all do. With certain kinds of people,were very easygoing, but were unsure of other people who presentthemselves in some other way. That is due to preconception; the egosconception. We should be happy, really happy, to connect with anypeople even the Shah of Iran, or the Ayatollah! We should be happy.Take the preconceived idea of the Ayatollah: This man; thisman.... Our ego builds up such energy, can you imagine, that in ournext life, when we are children, as soon as we hear the word Ayatollah,we think, Ayatollah? I dont like. Normally wed explain it as energypreviously built up by the ego, The Ayatollah is no good. Well,thats the way it happens. Its so easy to say that hes no good, and atthe moment you might think that its not doing any harm, but thething is that its not the Ayatollah who harms us, its the energy thatour own ego accumulates that gives us harm.The reason Im talking about this topic is that its difficult for newpeople to relate to the idea that one can become Chenrezig; its a newconception. Who is Chenrezig? Some Chinese man? Some Tibetan63Introduction to Tantraman? Who is that? He doesnt exist anywhere in the world. Whosseen him? Maybe you ask, Has he seen me? I havent seen him either.Well, my feeling is that even if were ugly, our body is not handsome,still, since we were born up to now, an extremely clean clear, organicbody has simultaneously existed within us, even while weve had thiscomplicated body. Thats the way I feel.Of course, there are also yoga methods for transforming even thisphysical body into light. Even this body that our ego has built up insuch a heavy, concrete way, My body is bad, criticizing it as wenormally do; My body is heavy; this and that... and so forth. So, bypracticing, we can make this body light; the difficult heavy onedisappears. For some reason, we can do this. Many times we experiencesymptoms that are simply made by our conceptions. For example,when I was in England last year I met a Tibetan lama who had comefrom India. He had a problem with his throat; somehow, he felt it wasalways blocked. When English doctors checked him out, they couldntfind anything physically wrong; it was all in his mind. Incredible, isntit? Well, thats possible. Theres nothing wrong with the body; theonly thing thats wrong is the head. Im sure you can think of manyexamples of this, where people say, I hurt here, and here... but itsonly a symptom of a mental problem, not the physical body. I thinkthis definitely happens.I have more experience of this. I have an English friend whom Imet when I was first meeting Western people in India. When hesunhappy, he always gets pain in his hip. Hes a very strong guy, but ifsomebody makes him unhappy, he immediately gets sick there. Im64 The Essence of Tibetan Buddhismsure you know people similar to this. This is a good example. It showsthat when the sick mind is strong, the body gets sick.The system of Tantrayana is not something disorderly or somethingthat you have to believe in with blind faith. The Tibetan system is setup dialectically; you can study it philosophically. Im just talking here;theres no time to study tantra philosophically from beginning to end.But if you want to, you can; its all there, dialectically, intellectually.The study of tantra can be super-intellectual. Thats possible.However, tantra has four schools; we call them cha-gy, ch-gy,nl-jor-gy and nl-jor-la-na-me-pa kriya, charya, yoga, andmahayoga, or maha-anuttara yoga. These schools present tantradifferently. Like the lam-rim has small, medium and great levels, sotoo do these four schools just as those who practice it also havetheir own level, or degree, of capability. But while all four schools takethe energy of desire as the path to enlightenment, there are degrees.Maha means great.Now, as far as receiving initiation is concerned, I dont know muchEnglish, but initiation means something like initial experience, orbeginning experience. When you receive initiation, you are beginningto get a taste of transformation; theres some communication;transformation is beginning to happen. That is empowerment. Butthe experience you get at the beginning is in accordance with yourown magnetized readiness. Perhaps the first time you receive anempowerment, pam! you immediately get some kind of result. Butif youre like me, slow, perhaps nothing happens during your first65Introduction to Tantraexperience and you need to receive initiation repeatedly in order togenerate the kind of nuclear energy that makes an empowerment perfect.Also, initiations themselves have many levels, or degrees. Forexample, of the four schools, the kriya and charya have only the first,the vase initiation; they dont have the rest. Furthermore, the firstinitiation itself also has degrees; you cant have the maha-anuttara yogavase initiation experience in kriya or charya. But I dont think we needto go into all those details; youre not ready for them yet. Nor is itnecessary to bring them up here. However, you should understandthat there are degrees of initiation. Also, different deities have differentnumbers of initiation. For example, Yamantaka has four initiations;Kalachakra has sixteen; and so forth.However, to some extent, an initiation is for you to receive anexperience. Its like planting a seed. This is then repeatedly generated,fertilizing it, until finally it becomes a totally unified realization.So, in preparation for this, we meditate upon and actualize thethree principal aspects of the path. Ive told you about these in a simpleway, so I dont need to repeat it again. So, you people should besomewhat advanced. Instead of thinking that the lam-rim is so big, itshould be a small package for you. In one meditation, when somethingchanges, you should be able to direct your mind into renunciation;another change happens, let it happen no rejection; no acceptance;let go, let it happen then put that into bodhicitta meditation. Whensomething else happens, put it into shunyata. But maybe I have toexplain how to do this.66 The Essence of Tibetan BuddhismContemplate on the clean clear energy of thought. This signifiesshunyata: This is my picture of shunyata. Why? First of all, yourconsciousness, or mind, is like a mirror. A mirror is a receptor for anyobject of form; whatever the color, a mirror receives it. Its the samewith our consciousness; its like a mirror; it can receive all kinds ofobjects of thought. All kinds of reflections appear in our minds garbage reflections come; good reflections come. That is beauty; humanbeings are beautiful. Dont think that human beings are like wood.Thats why we should respect human beings. Human beings havediscriminating wisdom; they have that capacity. So contemplate onclarity the clear light nature of mind and thought.First of all, that clarity is formless. It is not color; it does not havecolor. Recognize it as space; universal space is empty. So, contemplate.The effect of this meditation, its impact, what happens is that, byhaving the experience of emptiness, empty space, you eliminatesuperstition and ego conflict. Having this kind of experience eliminatesthe ego thoughts that crowd your mind.From there, you are led to having no thoughts at all; no thought.There is thought, but the crowded, gross level thoughts disappear sothat you seem to experience no thought. Sort of, Where are mythoughts? Where am I? is what you experience. Of course, this is notexactly a shunyata experience, but it serves as such. Im not sure aboutthat language what does serve mean? [Student: instead of.] Yes, itserves; perhaps its better to say it sublimates thats better. Somethinghappens; theres an inner transformation. We have to go through this;67Introduction to Tantrawe cannot be arrogant and say, I want an exact experience of completeshunyata! Its not going to happen. Thats just ego. We have to beginsomewhere and work towards that experience. We should be satisfiedif even that approximate experience comes.Thats enough for today. Thank you so much.DedicationThrough the merit created by preparing, reading, thinking about andsharing this book with others, may all teachers of the Dharma live longand healthy lives, may the Dharma spread throughout the infinitereaches of space, and may all sentient beings quickly attainenlightenment.In whichever realm, country, area or place this book may be, maythere be no war, drought, famine, disease, injury, disharmony orunhappiness, may there be only great prosperity, may everything neededbe easily obtained, and may all be guided by only perfectly qualifiedDharma teachers, enjoy the happiness of Dharma, have love andcompassion for all sentient beings, and only benefit and never harm eachother.AcknowledgementsAmitabha Buddhist Centre gratefully thanks all kind and generous sponsorswhose contribution to the printing of this book made it possible to benefitall sentient beings and to spread the precious Dharma. May all wishes andaspirations of our sponsors/benefactors be fulfilled immediately, accordingto the Holy Dharma.Aileen SimChang LeeChia Sai HianFoo Say JunFred FungGoh Ah MoeyHah Siew YoongJeffrey Chua & FamilyKang Tien Kuan & Choo Siew HwaKang Yap Pang & Kang Yan LinKoh Hui HoonLate Lau Aik Teck c/o Jean LauLate Mo Chin Teh FangLee Poh BoonLewis LiewLim Hoong SengLim Jock Mui LucyLoe Yan TongLoh Lye GuanLoh Yiang ThengLow Swang ChuaMary TanMr & Mrs Tan Beng ChuanNg Hock HengNg Siew ChongNT Kee & YS KeePrajna PutriQuah Hock PhengRaymond JH SeowRaymond SeowSia Seng JinSusinTan Bee ChooTan Bee NeoTan Geok ChooTan Hock LyeTan Kim NeoTan Yong KiangTan Yong PengYeo Peng HuiWe apologise for any omission to sponsors names. The PublicationCommittee accepts responsibility for all errors and omissions.The Foundation for the Preservation of theMahayana TraditionThe Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT)is an international organization of Buddhist meditation study and retreatcenters, both urban and rural, monasteries, publishing houses, healingcenters and other related activities founded in 1975 by Lama ThubtenYeshe and Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche. At present, there are more than150 FPMT activities in twenty-eight countries worldwide.The FPMT has been established to facilitate the study and practice ofMahayana Buddhism in general and the Tibetan Gelug tradition, foundedin the fifteenth century by the great scholar, yogi and saint, Lama Je TsongKhapa, in particular.Every three months, the Foundation publishes a magazine, MANDALA,from its International Office in the United States of America. To subscribeor view back issues, please go to the MANDALA website, www.manda-lamagazine.org or contact:FPMT125B La Posta Rd., Taos, NM 87571, USATelephone (505) 758-7766; Fax (505) 758-7765; firstname.lastname@example.org www.fpmt.orgOur website also offers teachings by His Holiness the Dalai Lama,Lama Yeshe, Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche and many other highlyrespected teachers in the tradition, details about the FPMTs educationalprograms, a complete listing of FPMT centers all over the world and inyour area, and links to FPMT centers on the Web, where you will finddetails of their programs, and to other interesting Buddhist and Tibetanhome pages.Amitabha Buddhist CentreAmitabha Buddhist Centre (ABC) is a centre for the study and practiceof Mahayana Buddhism from the Tibetan Vajrayana Tradition. Foundedin 1986 by our Spiritual Guide, Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche, a wise anddeeply compassionate Tibetan Master, the centre strives to offer the pureliberation teachings of Je Tsong Khapa, the 15th century founder of theGelug lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. To that end, we offer courses in Lam-rim, or the graduated path to enlightenment, Buddhist philosophy, thoughttransformation and the practice of tantra.ABC is a member of the Foundation for the Preservation of the MahayanaTradition (FPMT), the world-wide network of Dharma centres,monasteries, publishing houses, and service organisations established byLama Thubten Yeshe (1935-1984) and Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche in 1975.Our Education ProgrammeAt ABC, we provide a range of courses from beginners meditation andintroductory Buddhist talks to the intermediate level Lam-rim, or thegraduated path to enlightenment, to the study of more advanced Buddhistphilosophical subjects. Teachings are conducted in English or Tibetan(translated to English).Meditation RetreatsBearing in mind that Buddhism is a living tradition, teachings to bestudied and put into practice, ABC organises a variety of meditationretreats. These include one-day retreats and Nyung Nay retreats anintensive two-day fasting practice with prayers to Avalokiteshvara (KwanYin) as a way of immersing our minds in compassion.Devotional PracticeSince faith, the accumulation of good karma and purification of negativedeeds are as important as correct understanding of the teaching, we holdregular devotional practices, such as Tara and Guru pujas. In thesepractices, chanting, meditation and ritual combine as a powerful way tobless and inspire the mind. We also arrange for large-scale offerings to bemade on special days at holy places. In line with the Buddhas teachingon loving kindness and compassion, we also liberate animals regularly,reciting prayers for their benefit before releasing them.Social and Welfare ActivitiesIn keeping with the Mahayana spirit of love and compassion, ABCcomplements its teaching programmes with social and welfare activities tonurture true caring and concern for others. ABC also provides chantingSims Aveservices for the sick and deceased, and schedules visits to homes for theless fortunate. Our resident teachers also offer advice to people withDharma questions and spiritual problems.Publication ActivitiesABC is deeply committed to share the benefits of the Dharma with othersand will make available various titles to ABC members, the public andoverseas readers as funds permit.Our mission is to support Amitabha Buddhist Centre (ABC) in itseffort to benefit the public by informing them of teachings and activitiesavailable through the free distribution of Dharma books, newsletters andbrochures. By so doing, we hope to bring more people into contact withthe Dharma, because the gift of Dharma is the greatest gift of all!Membership FeesOrdinary Member S$50 per annum.Student/Retiree S$25 per annum.Life membership S$500Newsletter Subscription FeeABCs bimonthly newsletter (complimentary for members) is available tonon-members at a fee of S$10 per year.For more information, contact us atAmitabha Buddhist Centre494-D Geylang RoadSingapore 389452Tel: 6745 8547 Fax: 6741 0438 email@example.com www.fpmtabc.org.sgBus services no. : 2, 13, 21, 26, 40, 51, 67, 853, 864The Merits of ProducingBuddhist Teachings and Buddha Images1. Ones light karmic misgivings will dissolve, while heavy ones lighten.2. One will be protected by devas and be unharmed by natural and man-made disasters.3. One will always be free from the suffering of hatred andvengeance.4. One will be unharmed by yaksas, evil spirits and wild beasts.5. Ones mind will be at peace, free from harm and nightmares.6. Ones complexion will be radiant.7. One will be full of auspicious energy.8. One who practices the Dharma wholeheartedly will haveadequate living necessities.9. Ones family will be harmonious and be blessed with fortune andwisdom.10. One who practices what one preaches will be respected and loved byall.11. One who is dull-minded will gain wisdom.12. One who is ill will gain health.13. One who is poor will gain wealth.14. One who is female will be born male in future lives if one wishes to.15. One will be free of being reborn in the negative realms.16. One will be able to help others grow in wisdom and gain great meritin doing so.17. One will always be able to learn the Dharma, till ones wisdom andspiritual penetrations are fully grown and becomes a Buddha.What to do with Dharma teachingsThe Buddhadharma is the true source of happiness for all sentient beings.Books like the one in your hand show you how to put the teachings intopractice and integrate them into your life, whereby you get the happinessyou seek. Therefore, anything containing Dharma teachings or the namesof your teachers is more precious than other material objects and shouldbe treated with respect. To avoid creating the karma of not meeting theDharma again in future lives, please do not put books (or other holyobjects) on the floor or underneath other stuff, step over or sit upon them,or use them for mundane purposes such as propping up wobbly tables.They should be kept in a clean, high place, separate from worldly writings,and wrapped in cloth when being carried around. These are but a fewconsiderations.Should you need to get rid of Dharma materials, they should not bethrown in the rubbish but burned in a special way. Briefly: do notincinerate such materials with other trash, but alone, and as they burn,recite the mantra OM AH HUM. As the smoke rises, visualize that it pervadesall of space, carrying the essence of the Dharma to all sentient beings inthe six samsaric realms, purifying their minds, alleviating their suffering,and bringing them all happiness, up to and including enlightenment. Somepeople might find this practice a bit unusual, but it is given according totradition. Thank you very much.Dharma Books Sponsorship FormThe gift of truth excels all other gifts.(The Buddha)This book which contains the Precious Teachings is for free distributionand is made possible by the very kind and generous donations of oursponsors and benefactors. Our books are made available to the generalpublic, institutions, Buddhist organisations, libraries, etc., both locally andoverseas. We also receive requests from prisoners in the West.We need your kind support to fulfill this aspiration of benefiting othersby sharing this most valuable gift, The Gift of Dharma with them. Thecost of printing new titles and reprinting existing ones is costly. Anyamount donated will be deeply appreciated. If you would like to share thisgift with others, please photocopy these two pages and fill in yourparticulars. Cheques/Money Orders should be made payable to AmitabhaBuddhist Centre and sent to:Amitabha Buddhist Centre494-D Geylang RoadSingapore 389452May all beings be well and happy.Name: ____________________________________________Address: _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Contact No: (Office) _________________________________(Home) _________________________________(Pager)__________________________________(Mobile) ________________________________email: _____________________________________________Amount _________________ Cash ChequeBank/Cheque No _________________________How did you come across this book? From Friends Free Distribution Book Stand From Our Centre Others _________________Do you require an official receipt? Yes NoDo you wish to receive updates from our centre? Yes NoFor Official Use Only Received by:____________________Date:_________________ Official Receipt No:__________________________ (PLEASE WRITE IN BLOCK LETTERS)ESSENCE OF TIBETAN BUDDHISMJAN 2003hjgfDR. NICHOLAS RIBUSH, MB, BS, is a graduate of Melbourne UniversityMedical School (1964) who first encountered Buddhism at KopanMonastery in 1972. Since then he has been a student of Lamas Yesheand Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche and a full time worker for theFPMT. He was a monk from 1974 to 1986. He established FPMTarchiving and publishing activities at Kopan in 1973, and with LamaYeshe founded Wisdom Publications in 1975. Between 1981 and1996 he served variously as Wisdoms director, editorial director anddirector of development. Over the years he has edited and publishedmany teachings by Lama Yeshe and Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche,and established and/or directed several other FPMT activities,including the International Mahayana Institute, Tushita MahayanaMeditation Centre, the Enlightened Experience Celebration,Mahayana Publications, Kurukulla Center for Tibetan BuddhistStudies and now the LAMA YESHE WISDOM ARCHIVE. He has been amember of the FPMT board of directors since its inception in 1983.
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