How to Find Our Real Potential

By Tenzin Ösel Hita
Copenhagen, Denmark (Archive #2038)

In 2017, Tenzin Ösel Hita visited a number of FPMT centers across Europe and offered very fresh, spontaneous and practical Dharma talks. In this talk at the Center for Wisdom and Compassion in Copenhagen, Denmark, on February 11, 2017, Ösel discusses how to break out of negative habits and recognize our potential. The talk is also available as a LYWA podcast or you can watch the video on YouTube. Please note, the transcript begins at 7.02 on the video.

Ösel is the recognized incarnation of FPMT’s founder, Lama Thubten Yeshe. Read Ösel's biography here.

Tenzin Ösel Hita

Thank you so much everybody for coming here. Thank you so much for inviting us here. I really appreciate being in Copenhagen, in Denmark, especially in the center. It has very good energy, really positive vibration.

So what should we start with? Maybe we can start with a short meditation. Would you like that? Yes, OK. So we can do maybe a meditation on gratefulness, gratitude. It is a very good method because it a great technique and method because first of all it brings down the pride and makes you more humble. It helps you to appreciate more; helps you be more aware of things and it also helps you to be more open. So I think gratefulness, gratitude, is a very good meditation in everyday life, very practical, especially when we motivate it correctly. The motivation together with the gratitude is a very powerful tool in our everyday life. And the small details make up the big details. So if you focus on the small things first than slowly, slowly, the big picture will come up.

So let's do some breathing first, not just the normal breathing that we do every day, but from down here—from down at the throat. Deep breathing and breathing out the same way, completely, and then breathing in. [Ösel demonstrates technique]

And then while we do this breathing we start to focus first of all in our heart, which is an organ which has been pumping blood throughout our life and will continue to do so until our last breath. So since we are about a two-week-old fetus that heart, that organ, has started to pump blood. It started beating—expansion, contraction—just like the big bang of the universe, but in a very much smaller kind of dimension. But in essence it is the same thing. So we start focusing on the heart and we feel gratitude for that heart to exist and for it to pump ceaselessly, untiringly. Something that we are not aware of normally every day until maybe suddenly there is a problem, we are aware of our body. But everything, our whole existence in this body, in this dimension, in this reality, comes through the body. Our experience comes through the five senses together with the logic, and the perception, and the understanding, the emotions. Everything comes through this body somehow in a more kind of like gross way, because in the subtle form many other things are happening. But what we are aware of right now, at least, is this body that helps us to be able to experience life, love, existence and the universe.

So we are grateful to the heart. We are grateful to the lungs that are able to make us connect with life, with the air. We bring air into our lungs and then we take out the oxygen which helps us have energy and movement and life. So, these lungs that are the temple of our body, they are the connection between us and life.

And we are grateful to all the different, tiny details of life; things that we never think about. Like for example, the moment our parents met for the first time. The conditions that had to be put down in order for our parents to meet and if that moment hadn’t happened maybe they would have never met or their parents, or their great-grandparents and so forth. Or every single meal that all the generations before us ate. Grateful for all of that food, for everybody who created that food and planted the seeds and harvested the seeds or people who cooked the food. Even the first organisms who came to this planet that arrived and appeared on this planet for the first time. You know the source of life, the beginning of everything that we know right now.

So all these tiny details, all these aspects in life, which we were not aware of suddenly now, we are aware of and we are grateful to that and we thank it. And in this way we make ourselves available to understanding. We make ourselves available for empathy, for compassion, for humility, for respect, for patience. And we go up to the higher frequencies that really will help us move forward and develop our spiritual growth.

OK so. This meditation, for example, can be very helpful if you do it every day. When you wake up, when you go to sleep, when you are stressed, when you have to do something important, anytime, you can just stop and you can do it. OK, thank you for that. Thank you. Already I can feel the energy in the room really starting to, it was already very harmonious but now it’s even more. It’s amazing.

OK, so the talk today is about breaking our limits, right? Reaching out, moving forward. So we have to be aware in life that everything that we know or that we see is actually changing constantly, it’s in constant movement. Everything that we see and we think is solid is actually all these atoms in constant motion. We are not aware of it directly. Intellectually we may be aware but experientially we are not really aware. It is very hard for us to experience how things are not really permanent. We act like as if it is permanent, as if we are a permanent person with a permanent personality with our permanent surroundings and we have this kind of obsession of accumulating material objects or looking for something that we may call happiness. But actually if we search for it, the suffering that we are running away from is temporary. And we are going towards another temporary happiness. So what really is there? If we search, it is very hard to find, almost impossible.

That is a very big question that we have to make every day. We have to question reality. We have to question what’s going on. Most people, we believe our thoughts. We take our thoughts very seriously which, in a way, yes, sure it is true. Our thoughts are big, they are very powerful. Everything that is man-made, everything that has been manipulated by human beings started with a thought. All the creations, the cities, all the technology, all the science, all started with a thought. That’s how powerful thoughts are. This is a result of the thoughts.

But at the same time the thoughts are just like clouds moving in the sky. You can see them, you know there is something there but when you go to touch it, it’s empty. And when you look away and you look back again, it’s gone. So that’s how thoughts are. And we take them so seriously. We become so emotional based on those thoughts. Our whole attitude in life sometimes is based around those thoughts. Our state of mind many times is based on those thoughts. So one very important thing, you can call it a meditation, is to observe the thoughts. Where they are coming from? How they are coming? What is their purpose?

We have this habit. We are creatures of habit. So our habit is to base our reality on what we already know. So one of the habits is to think inside the box. [Ösel laughs] Before maybe when we were three years old we didn’t think like that. We had no kind of concept of before, “Oh, this is how it should be.” Our reality just was,  just is, it’s happening, that's it. We don’t have any concept or labels or conditions. After maybe around three years old, then that is when we start to base our reality on what we already know. We create an imprint and our reality is based on that imprint. We relate to existence, we relate to the outside world based on what we already know and what we already know comes from habit, from imprints. And some of these imprints go back many lifetimes. So it’s not just that we are creating imprints in this life, every day, but we also have to be aware of the imprints that are coming from the past lives, which can be really powerful.

You know so it’s like our being, our soul, like many people like to call it—it’s a little like the clear light. In Tibetan Buddhism they call it the clear light. So the clear light is like—imagine it flying through the universe and what is linked to it is the karma.

So somehow we had the karma to come to this earth and then we had the karma to be conceived. So we came into this reality, this dimension, this more material dimension, we came by being conceived. And the moment we are conceived it is a duality of the egg and the sperm coming together. And when that happens, whoa, suddenly the clear light comes inside and then life starts to happen, organic life. So in the beginning we were just a cell or two cells dividing itself, and then suddenly we become this thing called stem cells, which has the potential to transform into any type of cell. There are around maybe two hundred potential cells they can turn into.

So that’s what we were. We were a blob. We are a piece of meat that invents gods. Maybe we don’t invent, maybe we discover them. But we are just these pieces of meat that think we are so important. We are so important that we have the right to destroy earth. Actually we cannot destroy earth; earth will destroy humanity before that. It will just sneeze and it will be wiped out. It will get a fever and then [whistles] it's gone. Sometime we worry, "Oh, we are destroying earth." No, we are not destroying earth. We are destroying humanity. Earth has been here for millions of years already and it will continue to be here for millions of years. We are just a small time lapse inside the existence of earth and we think we are so important. We think we are the center of the universe; even individually we think that, somehow, we act like that. When we have a problem it is so big—all we can think about is ourselves.

Yeah, so basically we started out being a blob, so tiny you couldn't even see it with the naked eye. And then that blob started dividing itself and the stem cells started to decide: OK, you're going to become the brain, you're going to become the lung. They have certain missions. They become the organs, they become the feet, the legs and then it starts to happen through time and space it is happening boom, boom, boom. And then suddenly the fetus starts to grow and becomes a cylinder. That's what we were, we were blobs and then we were cylinders. [Ösel laughs]

So where is this "I" that we protect so hard. You know, we really believe so strongly there's an I and we will fight for it. We will fight for it so strong. Even the day we die we are still fighting for it. We don't realize that earth is a school and we are just students. From the moment we are able to speak and walk we are starting to learn and to understand, to relate. And even the day we die we are still learning the process of death.

So that is why, what's his name? Socrates? Plato? I'm not sure. I think Socrates, he said, “The wisest man or the wisest person is he who knows that he knows nothing.” What does that mean? That means that when you think you know, you are not open to learning more so then you are not wise anymore.

Wisdom is not something permanent or solid. Wisdom is something that is happening. It is organic. Everything is moving. Every single atom in our body is moving in constant motion. That is the vibration. I speak to you and you can hear me. That is why we can see each other because of the bouncing of the light.

So all of this is happening and we are so blind we think that we are so important while all these amazing magical things are happening. We have some control over our bodies, some control. We can move our hands when we want. Not everybody can do it, sadly enough. We don't even appreciate it. We are not even aware.

And we are not even aware of everything that is happening in our body. We don't even know what is happening in our body. The organs, everything is functioning to maintain us, to help us survive, and we don't even appreciate it. Not only that, we don't even know ourselves. We don't even know how we will react in the future when certain things or certain circumstances happen to us. How can we even feel we have the right to judge anyone if we don't even know ourselves?

It is very easy to point the finger to somebody, "Oh, they did this, they did that, they said this." Of course it is easy, it makes us protect our ego. It makes us not have to focus on ourselves, to recognize our mistakes, to actually do the real work, you know. You can't always run away from yourself. Someday you will have to confront yourself and that day will come, trust me, life will make sure of that. It is never too late, of course, but the earlier the better.

Anyways, don't be so serious it's not that bad! [Laughter] You have to take it easy. It is very important to relax and take it easy. You know sometimes the most productive people are the people who take it easy. You know it's not about more time or more quantity. It's more about the quality. And in order to have the quality, you need to have the space, you need to have the time, the rest, the enjoyment, the appreciation, you know. That is how it is. It is already proven scientifically. In the workplace and in the school it is already proven. Kids who study less and play more are more productive. People who work less and have more time off are more productive. It's not about the quantity it is about the quality. When you are rested, when you are happy, then you can really focus more, you can do a much better job. It's not just about thinking it's about feeling also—it’s about having the wish, the desire, the enjoyment of doing what you are doing. Otherwise what’s the point? We are not working to live, right? We are living, and meanwhile we are working.

So that’s why, there is a very good example. There is a professor at a school who brings out a big glass and then he fills it up with golf balls. Have you see this video? It is very interesting. He fills it up with golf balls and then he says, "Is it full?" and all the kids they say, "Yes, it is full." And then he takes out all these pebbles and he fills it up with the pebbles and he asks "Is it full now?" and the kids say, "Yes, it is full." And then he takes sand and he fills it up even more. "Is it full now?" "Yes, it is full." Then he takes beer and fills it up with beer, and asks "Then is it full?" "OK, now it is full."

So what is the explanation behind that? That means, if you put the sand, pebbles, and the beer first then there would be no space for the golf balls. But if you put the golf balls which are bigger in size first, then everything else fits organically very well inside. So what does that mean? It's a representation, a metaphor of life. You have to give priority to the important things first and then everything else will fit organically. Many people, they work to live, you know, or they chase happiness or they chase materialistic well-being. Or they chase a dream that maybe the system or society expects them to accomplish because they want to feel a belonging or acceptance or something. But if you give the real priorities to what really matters—the real values in life—then everything else will fall in place automatically, naturally.

So what are the real values, if you think about it? The real values—what is the real wealth? You know there are two different types of gold; two different types of wealth: one is outside and the other one is inside. The gold outside, in order to achieve it, you have to sometimes, in capitalism especially, you know like when some people get rich other people get poor. So in a way, that is how capitalism works. That is how the balance is kept. Otherwise it would be anarchy or it would be a different type of system. But you have to fight to get that gold and sometime you have to fight without scruples, without pity. So when your business makes it big, other business goes bankrupt. Not everybody can always succeed in capitalism.

So already that is one thing. Then not only do you have to fight for it but you have to defend it. Who is going to take it? How to get more? And whether the people that come to you are real friends. Maybe they are after that gold. So you don't trust people the same. How to maintain, how to get more gold. Many rich people can't sleep at night; they have to take sleeping pills and they take antidepressants when they get up. And you know that is the whole purpose, they are working to get money, and wealth and influence and power, but in the end they lose the real values—which is the actual inner peace, the actual happiness. And then what happens? Then you are worried about, oh, what is going to happen when you die because you can't take it with you. So maybe you die and your family fights over it, so there is division within the family. Or you are worried when you are not there if they are going to take your property. So all these things you are worried about.

But on the other hand, you think about the gold that is inside. It is completely different. You know you work for it, but the way you work for it is through benefiting other people, other sentient beings. When you share it, it multiples much more. The more you give the more you receive. The more you give the more it multiplies and the larger it becomes.

Because we are creatures of habit. So the more benefit we do, the easier it is to do. The more enjoyment we have doing it. And then you can take it to your next life; you don't have to worry about that. And nobody can steal it from you only yourself. Only you can destroy it by being a little bit ignorant or emotional. But even then if your motivation is right and you can dedicate it properly, then it is like putting it in the bank. It is like kept there.

So, it is very good to have a very clear motivation because behind the karma is the motivation. And the karma is linked to the soul, it is linked to the clear light and the imprints are together with the karma so we travel with that. That is like our backpacks, you can call it, maybe.

So that is why it is very important to be aware of our habit, every day. Not just physical habits or what we say but what we think mainly. Because our thoughts are the main thing, then the speech follows the thought and then the body follows the vibrations of the speech. So for example, when someone says, "How are you?" and you say, "I'm really sick." Just saying it your body believes it. You know, so you are already creating the cause to be sick in a way because your body believes it is sick like, literally. Or "Are you happy?" "No, I am very unhappy" so already your mind is thinking it, your vibration is saying it and then your body believes it and then actually does it. So we have to be very aware of everything, of every single thing we do, you know? Body, speech and mind, these are the main three things we actually have.

You think you own something? What do you own? Tomorrow it is gone. So what do you own? It is changing constantly. How can we say this piece of land is mine? Or even this body. It is stardust, it came from stardust, it is going to stardust. It is worm food one day or maybe fire food or something, I don't know. But it is ours for a temporary period of time and even then it is not even ours because we don't even control it properly. We are not even aware of the function of the body, of how it is working. If you tell me what is in here [Ösel points to his side] I don't know what is in here. I don't know what is in here. I have to study and become a doctor and then say there is something called this which is function is that and it works this way and this is how ... and you actually have to study it. And the study is based on the interpretation of a bunch of human beings.

So, everything is like that. Everything is based on interpretations. Everything is based on how we relate to things, based on our past, on the habit. So, for example this is solid we say. [Ösel touches the table] Why? Because in the past we believed it was solid. If we think we have a trauma because of my childhood then we really believe it. Then we really follow—we are carrying that weight.

It's like forgiving people. Sometimes we say you cannot forgive him because what he did was unforgivable. So then you are carrying their weight. You are carrying their mistake. You are carrying their problems because you can't forgive them. So, you are not even allowing them to move forward because you are not able to forgive them. So you make them stuck and you keep yourself stuck too. And everywhere you go you are carrying that weight with you by saying "Oh no, I can't forgive this person." Or whoever it is or whatever it is.

And the same way you have to forgive yourself. You can't be so hard with yourself. We make mistakes, that is how we learn. If we don't make mistakes then we are not doing anything. You know, if we are making mistakes it is because we are actually doing something. You know that is how you move forward. But the mistake is making the same mistake many times and not moving forward. You know, if you learn and you change that, then you make new mistakes.

So that is life. That is how you learn. Humans, we have to make mistakes, we have to bang our head on the wall sometimes or otherwise we get hit by life. Otherwise we just sit in our comfort zone and we don't want to move. We are scared of change. We are scared of the unknown. We are scared of the mysteries of life but at the same time the mysteries of life is what really makes it interesting.

The surprises, you know, the mystery if we all knew what was going to happen when we are dead then what is the point of living. We already know what is going to happen. So we already decided everything we are going to do. But because we don't know then we really are thinking what is life, what is the purpose of life, what are we doing here, where are we going, where do we come from. You know that is the beauty of life, that is where philosophy started. That is where religion started. That is where spirituality started. Everything, technology, science, physics, mathematics, all started from there. From that mystery of trying to understand and try to explain what is this that we are living. And that is the beauty of life and if we don't have that than we are just like robots or maybe cavemen running around the fire. Fighting for the driest piece of wood and the less humid cave ... uga, uga, uga. [Ösel laughs]

So we have come up to here. We are here now. This is the future, you know. For ages humanity has always wondered where we are going so this is where we are going. Now we are here. We are almost out of this story ourselves, almost but we still have a chance it's not too late yet. So how to participate in elevating the collective memory.

How do we do this? By working on ourselves. By loving ourselves and by working first on ourselves. Now I don't mean the self-cherishing mind. Don't mistake me it is very easy to think. We grew up in an individualistic kind of system but there is a collective system also. That is why the saying, which I really like very much, is be proud for who you are. You know, be proud because you have to be aware of your potential, you have to be aware of who you are. The potential of becoming a buddha. The actual inner qualities of our clear light. So that is why we are proud of who we are. So, we are strong to accomplish what we set out to do but be humble because you belong. You are a part of something much bigger than us. You know so when you balance that out that's called Tai Chi. [Ösel laughs]

No, it's important to have harmony and to have balance in life, not to go to the extremes. As many people, for example, that get completely sucked into this kind of concept of "the practice" or "spirituality" or the teacher or the guru, the guru, the guru or the text, the text, the intellectual understanding or the prostrations or the water bowls, praying, mantras, meditation between initiations, teachings. So "Wow, wow, wow," again and again and again. Sure that is part of the path. That is part of the truth, sure, but we are not going to the truth. It's like a dark forest—we are trying to get out of the dark forest. The light of the moon or the sun or a torch helps us to find our path out of the forest. We are the ones who has to walk the path. We are the ones that have to choose which is the right way to go by using everything, the ability that we have. The logic we have.

So for example in a completely dark forest how do we get out? It is very difficult, right? We trip, we get eaten by wild animals, we fall into the quicksand but if there is some light, for example, the full moon in the middle of the night then at least we can climb a tree and see from a distance or climb a hill and see from a distance and say, "Ah, look over there, the forest is finishing so if maybe I go in that direction, maybe I will get out of the forest." The moon—we are trying to get out of the forest. We are not going to the guru, we are not going to the text, we are trying to understand ourselves. We are trying to see what we are actually are. So that is why many times we search, search, search outside, we are distancing ourselves from where we are actually trying to go. We do that a lot in life. You know we know something but what we do is the opposite. The result is the opposite from what we look for and that is where the "I" comes in.

Why is the I so important in life, for us? From the moment we started speaking we were already saying, "My Mamma, my Papa, mine," so that is how it is. Why is that so important is because that is in a way we protect ourselves or we identify ourselves or we relate ourselves to the outside world, in a way. Because, in a way, we are kind of imprisoned in our body so the only way to actually communicate and relate to the outside world is through the five senses. So a smile or some music or some speech or a hug, you know, all of these things are ways to relate to people. To relate to other world, the outside.

But there is a limit to that, you know. When we actually create an I that doesn't exist. It doesn't exist. If you search for it you will never find it. And then our actions and our thoughts are all based in a way of how to protect this I, how to solidify this concept of I. So if somebody actually criticizes us—something that actually challenges this concept of I will actually reject it. And how do we reject it? By getting emotional, by getting angry, by getting defensive or attacking, walking away, running away, whatever it is. So, it's a kind of attraction and rejection kind of idea. We are attracted to something that supports the I, supports this concept of I. For example, pleasure, enjoyment, distractions, entertainment, we are attracted to that because it fortifies it in a way. It makes us feel more comfortable with this kind of like comfort zone and "Oh, I'm just me" but we don't see it and we reject things that actually challenge the existence of the I.

So, the way we act is the complete opposite from what we are actually looking for. Actually, we understand it but we don't actually experience it properly because we are so focused on that attachment of this I, of possessing something. If we understood that we cannot possess anything then we wouldn't have the fear of losing it. For example, before you get a really, really, really nice phone, or girlfriend or boyfriend or something like that, you know, before you get that you are kind of happy, you are OK, right? Then you get it and then suddenly you think you are really, really happy, but then suddenly you lose it and then you are so much more unhappy than before you got it. But the situation is the same before you had it and then after when you don't have it, the situation is the same but the state of mind is so devastated because of the attachment. Because you thought you could possess that because it's yours or it's available for your use any time you need. And that is how you are supporting this I. And the I works in such a way that the more you try to cherish it, the more you try to work for it, the more you will suffer. And we know that and we keep doing it somehow.

There is a very good example with the monkey traps in India. Anybody knows how they trap the monkeys in India? It is very interesting. Banana? I thought it was a candy. Maybe I don't know, I'm not sure.

So they have these coconuts and they make a small hole in the coconut just enough for the monkey to put their hand inside and they grab it (the candy) and when they grab it they make a fist and they can't take out their hand anymore from the coconut. So, they can't run away, they can't climb the trees. Some of them even have two coconuts in their hands. Maybe even some of them four. So when the hunters come they are afraid, they are scared for their life. They are so afraid and they still hold onto the candy and they won't let go because they believe, they really believe, genuinely that they can run away with it, with the candy. But all they have to do is let go of the candy and take out their hand and then they would be free. But somehow they really just grasp onto that and they are captured and maybe their whole life changes after that. They are exposed in a circus or maybe they are killed and eaten or tortured or who knows what happens to them. But that is a little bit a representation of our mind. That is how we are. You know, we know how to be free from samsara. Escape the cycle of life and death and attachment and suffering but we don't, somehow, we keep that, we grasp.

And where do we start? We start in a very practical way- taking baby steps. Many people think, "Oh, I have to become enlightened for all sentient beings," it's a little bit difficult. I mean, it's a great motivation, of course. It's really good to think “I want to help all sentient beings,” but come on be realistic. Help yourself first. If you don't love yourself, if you don't really respect yourself, if you don't have that desire to improve and develop your spiritual growth then how are you going to help anyone else. Come on.

I mean it is good to have compassion. It is good to click like on Facebook and be like "Oh yes, I support this movement. I support this charity." Sure, that's good. It's very good, I am not saying don't do it. You have to do it, for sure, but you also have to be realistic with yourself. Because many times we lie to ourselves ... all the time. We can lie to our partners, we can lie to our family, we can lie to our friends, to the community but don't lie to yourself. I mean we know it but we still do it. So when you start to be more sincere with yourself then you can start being sincere with everybody else. When you start loving yourself then you can start loving everyone else. When you start helping yourself then you can really start helping other people.

Until then, wake up! It's a good motivation, it's a great path and it's a great direction but the method, you have to take the baby steps. You know because you can't build a roof without a foundation. You can't build the walls without a foundation. There is no place to put the doors and the windows if you don't have the foundation. And if you don't build a foundation, the walls will fall and the roof will fall and you have to start again ... and again ... and again.

So this is the opportunity. We are here and it is never too late. It is always early and we have a perfect human rebirth and we have the ability ... all our body works. And we have the capacity and the potential and the understanding and the method. So let's start. Enough of comfort zone. We don't have to wait for life to hit us really hard in order to really come out of the comfort zone. Sometimes we need maybe some people who are really hard-headed, like me. If life doesn't hit me really hard then I don't wake up. It's like— [Ösel pretends to snore].

So start now. Because you will have to confront it sooner than later. And better earlier than late, right, because the later is going to be harder. Because we create more habits. We create more imprints. Time is running, you know, and we act like this life is super-long and we are always going to be here. You know, anytime [Ösel snaps his fingers]—time to change, you know, and right now we have the opportunity. You know, that is why even the gods envy the humans. Why? Because when you are a god you are just enjoying yourself constantly. You have no sickness, you have no suffering, you have no pain. It's just pleasure—orgasm—just total constant happiness, joy. Everything is perfect. Everything smells really nice. All the visual things are amazing. Physical pleasure—all the senses are completely orgasmic all the time.

But then one day, your karma ends. And when that starts to end then the other gods they start to smell some bad smell from you and then they ignore you because they don't want to recognize that one day they will be the same too. So that is when the real suffering starts for the gods and that is when they are aware that they wasted, they spent all the good karma and then they have the capacity and realizations to see where they are going to be reborn. Maybe they can see a pig family like lying in the mud in a really dirty place and they will just look at the ground and maybe only the moment they die they see the sky. You know, that kind of life and that is when they really suffer.

Sometimes we say, "Oh, I want to be a bird so I can fly." Or "I want to be a dog so that they can just take care of me and I am happy. It's easy." But actually animals are constantly suffering. They are always scared for their life. They have this kind of like hunger, this desire, this fear.

You know, we have the perfect human rebirth. Why do Buddhist people or Buddhism or Dharma people why do they say or name it "the perfect human rebirth"? Because we are not animals, we have the capacity to practice Dharma, like really practice Dharma. Not just go around the stupa accidentally. [Laughter] But we have the capacity to practice Dharma fulltime—twenty-four-hour, full power, no shower. [Laughter] And at the same time we are not gods. So we are aware of the suffering, you know, we actually have something that says, "Wake up, I'm suffering. What do I have to do in order to wake up?" We have to practice. Gods do not have that capacity until it is too late. Some gods rare, maybe they are able to do that. But it is just an example.

So, that is why in order to attain enlightenment, it is through a human body. [Ösel recites in Tibetan] So that is why we have the opportunity to reach enlightenment in this form, in the human body we have this opportunity in one lifetime. It is possible. But first we have to take the baby steps.

So the motivation is there. We see the objective. We know where we are going which is inside to understand. It is called Mind Science. You know, the Nalanda tradition, they used to call it Mind Science. You know, we have the wisdom and the method, it is available to us. Thanks to all the teachers like His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. All these teachers who are working tirelessly and making all these efforts for all human beings and sacrificing, maybe not sacrificing but dedicating their energy, their time, their space to us. And we have that karma to be here present at a time of buddhas like His Holiness and like Lama Zopa Rinpoche. And not only being here at the time of the buddhas but actually being aware that they are the buddhas and having the interest and the capacity to understand what they communicate.

You know so many times maybe you think, "Oh, I wish I was alive at the time of Shakyamuni Buddha." We are alive right here, right now and we have the technology. We have internet. We have livestream. You can just sit down in your comfort zone, chill, put up your legs, you can drink some coffee and eat biscuits or your potato chips and whatever it is and watch teachings. How amazing is that? From your home. You don't have to travel for months and risk your life. You know how it used to be before, that is how it used to be. We are so comfortable we create problems where there are no problems. That is how comfortable we are. We get depressed because we don't have anything better to do. [Laughter] I'm sorry, I'm sorry.

My classmates in the monastery—I had about 250 classmates when we started off and now there's about only thirty of them left. Thirteen years later they are still studying in the monastery. But you know like in the monastery when we were studying, you know, many of them, I would talk to them about an issue in the West called depression that people had to actually take medicine to fight depression. And they were like, "What is this depression? Is it a sickness?" and I tried to explain to them that it is a mental attitude of the self-cherishing mind. And that is why Buddhism and the philosophy of Dharma really can be very helpful for people like that also. You know, who are actually thinking very small kind of way of thinking, you know.

Because if you really think about the situation on the planet since forever, since humans existed, it has been very difficult, you know. I mean now we have a lot of things that are available for us. For our pleasure and our enjoyment and our comfort. Actually, we are a little bit too distracted, maybe. A little bit too entertained, but that is kind of what capitalism is looking for. The system wants us to be educated like sheep and donkeys. We actually participate completely in that. Of course not everybody and of course not all the education systems are like that but the conventional education system it challenges you not to question the authority. To accept what superiors tell you. To be afraid of making mistakes. To lose a little creativity, you know, to follow the mainstream. So if you follow the masses then what happens?

I saw that when we were in Nepal when the earthquake happened in April 2015. I was there. The first earthquake I was in Kopan and the second earthquake I was in the airport and I had just passed immigration but I still hadn't passed the security check so I was stuck in the middle. And the scary part is before the earthquake would come the light would go off. So the light would go off and you know if the light went off then you know in the next ten to thirty seconds there's going to be an earthquake and you don't know how powerful it is going to be. So those ten to thirty seconds are going to be excruciating.

So, everybody goes completely crazy and I remember, somehow I was just chilling. I was like, "OK, we passed immigration, let's just relax a bit. Maybe have a coffee instead of actually going to security and trying to run out on the landing pad, to the tarmac," which many people did but somehow I didn't think that. I was just like, OK, I don't know why, um, sometimes I am stupid. No, don't say that my body will believe it. [laughter] I'm just joking, just joking.

So anyway, I was just having my coffee and observing other people and there was this one guy who had a whiskey bottle like that [Ösel shows how big] and he was just swigging it. Like swigging it like [Ösel shows how quickly he was drinking] and then he would put it down and then again [started to drink it] and he drank half of a whole whiskey bottle in like two minutes. I was just like looking at him and then there was another guy taking down all the seats in the airport and putting them upside down and hiding underneath. Like literally he was creating his own shelter with the airport seats. And then there were other people who were all shouting and running from one side to another and when the light went off then it was a panic attack.

And then what happened? One bunch of people started running in one direction which was toward security and then everybody run in that direction. And then, of course, the police they blocked the whole thing. And then two or three people started to run toward immigration and then everybody started running there and they completely made everything stuck. So, when everybody ran in the other direction, a couple of people sneaked through the security because when it was just a few people the cops would open it up and would let them pass. So where there were no masses, then people would have an advantage. But when you follow the masses you got stuck and you ended up in a worse place because then the masses have no brain. It was like a panic attack going in this direction and then they all get stuck here, so it was actually much worse

And I was just sitting there and doing some mantras and I was like "OK, if I have to die now I will die. This is it." I was really trying to meditate on impermanence but it was kind of hard actually. My heart was like boom-boom, boom-boom. But, you know, it was just observing how people reacted.

For example, in airports, again we are talking about airports, but when you arrive on a plane the first person that starts walking, everybody follows that person. And it has happened to me sometimes, you know, maybe there is a sign that says "Baggage Claim," but somehow the person walks in the other direction and then everybody walks after him and then they get stuck, "Oh it's a dead end." And then the guy gets all red and then he tries to act like he didn't do it—what do you call it—in Spanish we say "disimular" How do you call it in English? Yeah, like fake it a little bit. I'm just looking around, kind of thing, but everybody follows them.

Or sometimes like you don't even think where you are going. You just follow the people in front of you and maybe they aren't going to baggage claim. Maybe they are going to the toilet or they are going to take another plane and you just follow them. “Oh where are we going?” It's funny.

Anyways, I am going off the subject. But yeah, that is how it is. But that is why one person can influence a whole collective and that is why it is so important to really progress. To really to develop your spiritual growth, so important. Because actually you do influence the collective. It is proven scientifically [laughs]. It is called the one hundred monkey syndrome—when a certain number of the same species understands something, automatically everyone understands it. For example, many breakthroughs in science or physics happened at the same time when many people had the same type of breakthrough or the same kind of discoveries but only very few people actually took the credit because they were the ones who had the influence, the power and the wealth at that time to take the credit. But many other people discovered the same thing at the same time.

And that is how it has been historically. You know, it is something about the collective, you know, when the collective is ready then boom—you advance. So there is a theory that when a certain number of human beings are elevated consciousness, elevated frequency, then automatically then the whole of humanity is going to do that too. And we are very close, very close. And if you think about it, you know maybe sometimes we despair, we are like, "Oh you know the system is so corrupt, it is so difficult..blah, blah, blah, blah." OK, fear, hatred, jealousy, desire, you know, what else, greed —all these things work at a much lower frequency. A much lower frequency and that frequency cannot prevail because it will out to destruct itself, somehow. You know it is like a black hole. There is no end to it. In the end it destroys itself.

But somehow there is this other frequency which is much higher, you know, empathy, compassion, love, understanding, humility, patience, respect. All these other really much higher frequencies work in a higher level and they really go very far. And those are the constructive emotions, constructive methods, frequencies, vibrations.

Like just for example energetically, think about it, fossil fuel. What is fossil fuel? Fossil fuel is a bunch of animals and vegetables that died millions of years ago and are stuck underground somewhere and we dig it up and we burn it to get a little bit of energy out of it. So, we are basically burning death and creating energy. But the actual result is that we are actually destroying the planet. We are actually creating asthma for our children, we are doing all the oil spills in the sea killing all these sea creatures. Just making it so much harder and fighting on it. Look at all the wars today. Today most of the wars are based on oil. Wealth, power, influence, you know. Why? Because it is a limited resource. So the more limited the better business, because the price goes up all the time.

But it represents death, anyway. We are fighting for death. We are burning death as an energy to move around as transport or whatever it is. But on the other hand we have all these renewable energies like wind, water, sunlight which represents life. And it is infinite. It is not limited. But, of course, it is not attractive because it doesn't bring money so much. But it does bring money obviously, it does, so why not focus on it? But somehow because we are donkeys and sheep we follow what some people want and what some people decide to go towards.

So we have to start waking up. We have to start progressing inwardly so that we can progress outwardly as a collective. So we have the responsibility as individuals, you know, so it's not just about ourselves. We can't just sit on our ass and chill in the comfort zone. Sorry about my French [laughs]. But it is true. It is very easy to just say, "Oh tomorrow." Or "It's not my fault, it is their fault," or "I wasn't brought up the right way or it was my parents fault."

Patience, for example. We don't lose patience with someone else, we lose patience with our self. If we have patience for our self then we can have patience with everybody. If we can respect our self, then we can respect everybody. If we can forgive ourselves then we can forgive everybody, you know.

But you have to differentiate that between the self-cherishing mind because the self-cherishing mind is very dangerous. And that is what kind of the system and capitalism is based on. If everybody were satisfied because they were living in the moment, actually living the moment, actually being present, if everybody were really satisfied then the capitalistic system would collapse. Some people pay 30,000 Euros for one purse and then a week later they see another one they are like, "Oh, I really like that one." But the purpose of the purse is the same. Sometimes even the more expensive things are worse quality and not as practical either.

So what is going on here? Why are our values upside down? What is happening? Why do we value things that don't really benefit us and actually harm us and everybody else? Like the ego, why do we value that so much? Why do we not value empathy or understanding or patience or respect or compassion? Why don't we value that much more?

You see that is the thing. When you turn on the news what is more interesting—the negative news. If you had a soccer game, and a rugby game, and a basketball game, and a tennis game, and a ping pong game, all these games happening all together, all very interesting sports, and suddenly a fight broke out, everybody would go to see the fight. "Oh, what is going on there? These guys are fighting there." Why is that more interesting? What is this kind of fascination with violence or negativity?

Why is it when a single mother raises five children by herself for twenty years and takes them to university—why doesn't she make headlines? Why does one mother who accidentally killed her child in one second of—what do you call it—distraction, or whatever it is, she kills her child in one second and that makes headlines all over the world, but somehow the dedication and work of a mother for twenty years never makes headlines? Why? Why is it that we focus so much on negativity? That is the thing. That is one of the issues today. We overvalue negativity so much more than positiveness. We remember that much more.

I have a friend who was raised by parents who were very loving and easy-going and supportive and they always supported his decisions and they always gave him all the finance required to travel, to do this, to do that. Whatever he wanted, they supported him. They never hit him. They never said no to him. For his whole life. But when I asked him, what is the thing that you remember most from your childhood and he said, "Oh, my mother slapped me one time. That is what I remember the most." Why is it that? It is like one second? Why are we so traumatized by that? Why can't we be traumatized by positiveness? [Laughter] Why not?!

We need to switch our values somehow. Overvalue positiveness and that is what we will really have. We will have that. The negativeness is not so important. That is how we actually lose a little bit of our self-cherishing mind. You know, if we have a certain situation in our life that we are suffering and we focus more on the positive, then we don't suffer so much. That is why suffering is relative for each individual.

Suffering is relative. For example, for us if somebody whips us we are like, "Argh, Stop that!" but for a masochist it is like, "Keep going. That feels so good. Keep whipping me." But the action is the same. Why is it that the masochist enjoy it but we actually suffer from that? Why is that? Suffering is so relative, it is just the way we see it. If you are aware of that, then we can change everything.

For some people a small thing can be huge. It can be the end of the world. For some people, something really big they can take that as a challenge and overcome it and really use it as a catapult to really advance in life. Something really big becomes small. The negative part at least.  And you know they use it as something really big. Some people they just fall and get overcome by something small, relatively small, because of the way our mindset, our capacity of seeing it, our limitations. We limit ourselves. We get completely overcome by our small mind. We limit ourselves. That is what the talk is about today, right? So we limit ourselves. We completely limit ourselves. Completely.

Why? Because we are afraid of our potential. And that is what Buddhism calls ignorance. We have this concept of separation. But if you think about it, for example, our body, when we say "Me" this big me, OK. Where is it? It is composed by all these organisms, all these situations and circumstances before us. And we think this is so solid and so independent but our whole existences is based on infinite amounts of situations and circumstances and activity and multi-organisms and atoms and cells. We don't even have the capacity to understand it intellectually. And that is how it is. But somehow we still think "Oh me, I am here. This is me. I am permanent." Your personality is changing. We are being. We are happening, constantly.

So that is why there is no separation. Think about, for example, the consciousness of an amoeba. It is a single cell organism. It only has one cell but it is conscious. It is scientifically proven. [Laughs] You know when they poke it, it runs away. When they give it some kind of nutrient, it is attracted to the nutrient. So it runs away from pain and it is attracted to pleasure. Just like us with our ego, same way. Rejection and attraction and everything else that doesn't affect us is neutral. That is how we move around in life - like an amoeba. That is how small-minded we are.

And then relate the consciousness of an amoeba to our consciousness—the capacity of our consciousness—how we can see, how we can experience life compared to an amoeba. And that amoeba is in our stomach and it is part of us. Our habits, our energy, our emotions affect it just like it affects our whole body. Our speech affects it, imagine our emotion. It is scientifically proven that when we get angry it harms our heart, it harms our body, physically. We are actually harming ourselves. And when we are happy, peaceful, harmonious, we are actually prolonging our life. We are becoming more healthy. It is true.

So compare the amoeba's consciousness to our consciousness, that difference. And then compare the earth's consciousness to the galaxy's consciousness. It just blows your mind, right? You know, the earth is alive. The galaxy is alive. The universe is alive. And it is really interesting—some scientists today, neuroscientists or quantum physicists, they are saying that the universe is a hologram. It is a 3D hologram. So actually it is an illusion. That is where science is going today. It is actually starting to cross paths with the concept of emptiness. That was discovered 2,600 years ago without computers, by the way. [Laughter]

But it is amazing how science and spirituality or philosophy, they are actually starting to cross the path. And this is where we are now. We are really lucky to be alive at this time. Where technology and spirituality is coming together.

But we are so distracted by our monkey minds. All the time. That is our boss. Our boss is the monkey mind. We put the monkey mind and we make it the captain of our boat. And we forget about everything else. So why do we let the wind just take our boat anywhere? Why do we let the emotions take over? Why do we let the monkey mind take over? What is so important that we have to do that we cannot be aware of these very important values in life.

Right now maybe we may get a little impatient because now "Oh, one hour or maybe one hour and a half, oh," but what else are we going to do when we get home? Watch TV and let ourselves get brainwashed by the television? Go on Facebook for an hour or something? Watch a movie or what are we going to do that is so important that makes us feel so impatient. All the time we are looking for something else or running away from something else. If we are here then we are really satisfied.

What we really need, the real values, are the basic things for live: we need food, we need a place to sleep, warmth, company, protection. Some basic things we need. Everything else is not that necessary. It is extra. So what is it that we need that we are fighting so much for all the time? Why are we always looking for that? Why do we give it so much importance if we know that that is never going to bring us happiness? Why do we limit ourselves again and again and again and again? Constantly. For years and years and years and years. Why?

So that is why it is very important to observe our minds, to observe our emotions—where do they come from? Sometimes it is also good to shut down the mind, to calm the mind, to pacify it and try to prolong that time, that state of mind when you calm down the mind, you try to prolong that. Then you can start hearing the inner voice. It has no voice but you will hear it.

Anyways, so maybe we have some questions or topics that you would like me to talk about?

Question: Why do we limit ourselves?

Ösel: OK, many reasons, of course, which we already talked about. We limit ourselves because we are afraid of our potential. We limit ourselves because we are in our comfort zone. Too much too comfortable because we are entertained, because we are distracted, because we are ignorant with the sunglasses of ignorance which is the concept of that we are independent not interdependent, the concept of separation. The concept that we are the center of the universe, basically.

That is why we started with gratitude. If we are grateful then we start to not limit ourselves too much because through gratefulness through gratitude we open ourselves up.

You know, it is a little bit like the difference between someone who has been stuck after an earthquake somewhere or maybe someone who’s been stuck without food or water and then suddenly someone comes and saves them. That person gives them some food or a cup of water to drink. When the person receives that water their attitude toward their savior is of total gratitude and humility and respect and patience automatically because of the gratitude.

But somehow a billionaire sitting in his mansion when one of the servants brings the water their attitude is completely different, because why? Because they feel entitled. It is their right or maybe they asked for hot water and the water is warm and then they complain. Or when they bring food. "Oh this is not right or that is not right or there is not enough of this or you need to put more of that," and they complain and they get angry and whatever it is. So why is that happening? Because you are not grateful. But the action is the same. The person is bringing something for you. So that is why just the fact that you are grateful changes everything, changes your whole perspective and the way that you relate to everyone else.

So, if you are always grateful then you always relate in a more humble way, in a more patient way, respectful way and that will break the limitation. Because then you are not self-cherishing yourself so much and you are cherishing other people and through helping other people, through dedicating your time and your space to other people also, then you really create the cause to be more happier and to be more peaceful. To be more joyful. To be more harmonious. And then every time you create that pattern and that habit, then every time it is easier to go in that direction. It becomes easier every time. And that is why the practice of Dharma is very important, not just the mantras and the meditation and the teachings, which is very important, but also in the everyday life. The way that you relate to people. Someone is nice to you but actually to the waiter they complain and they talk in a bad way, it is not real Buddhist.

The practice of Buddhism for me at least, the way I see it, the first step in Buddhism is to know how to adapt positively to any circumstance, any situation, for me that is the first step in Buddhism. To adapt positively to any situation. And then to be grateful to everything so you can actually relate to everybody in a very unique, more realistic way. You know then you are creating the cause to be happier in your life and to prolong your life and to be more healthy and everything else.

So that is one of the steps to actually break your limitations. And that is why a lot of the practices in Buddhism is to visualize yourself as a buddha, as a deity, because then you are visualizing all the good qualities that you have. You are potentiating what you already have. Because we have the potential of the Buddha. It is just that we limit ourselves and we try to think of ourselves as, I don't know, something else. But actually we are beautiful. We are amazing.

The real beauty comes from the inside. If all the women knew that and saw that—that the real beauty comes from the inside, then all the cosmetic companies would completely go bankrupt. How many billions do they make on the insecurities of women? You know, because they are bombarded by this concept of beauty which doesn't exist. It only exists in Photoshop. It is true. That person that you see doesn't exist in real life. Then that model wishes they would look like that in real life. And then they bombard us with that and they say that is the concept of beauty.

But it is very relative. Beauty is very relative. In the Arab world the more fat you are, the more beautiful you are. You know, it is not that beauty is the same for everybody because we all relate to beauty in a different way. Just like we relate to suffering in a different way. So that is very important. That is how we need to start breaking that limitation. Start waking up.

Question: Sometimes it can be really hard when you practice compassion and you practice understanding, forgiveness and respect. Sometimes it's like there is a fine line, a differentiation between being a carpet and then actually being compassionate. Do you know what I mean by being a carpet? When you just roll yourself out under other people, just like flat down. Sometimes, personally, it can be hard to differentiate being when you roll yourself out as the door mat just, you know, being there, being compassionate, being open, being respectful, being understanding and sometimes.... How do, yourself, differentiate between when you are being a carpet and when you are being or practicing the Dharma? Do you know what I mean?

Ösel: Yeah, yeah. I mean of course we have to have a limit because otherwise we are actually harming more than helping. So it is not easy to balance, to find the balance, but like for example sometimes you give a hand and they want the arm and then you give the arm and they want the neck—that kind of situationv and then in the end you don't have an arm anymore. Of course the stories of the bodhisattvas go and offer their body to the tigers. You know, it is a great story but realistically, personally for me it would be very hard to give up my arm to a hungry tiger. I mean I value my arm a lot [Laughs].

These stories of sacrifice are just a representation, I mean, I am sure it is true. It is a true story but it is a representation of the sacrifice that we have to make sometimes to have bodhicitta. It is limitless.

But also we have to be realistic, especially in a system and a society when sometimes people take advantage very easily. They take it for granted. Then you are not helping them, it is counter-effective because they take it for granted. They feel entitled to that, they expect it and when they don't get it then they get cranky. So, you are gratifying or you are like—what do you call it? Supporting? Like when you give a present to a dog—rewarding—you are rewarding a mindset or a pattern or an attitude by keeping on doing the same thing. So actually the message that you are giving across is the opposite to the one that you want to get across.

You know, if the person feels that the more that they take the more you are going to give, then in the end you won't have anything else to give. You have already given everything, but in a way at the same time you never have to be afraid of giving too much because you will always receive, you know, but with a limit because materialistically it is different. Emotionally and motivationally it is very different from the material world. You know like rich people become rich by being stingy, right? It is like a saying, "If you give, give, give, how can you become a millionaire? You have to save," but karmically that is not how it works. Karmically the more you give the more you receive and also that is how it works in the material world. I mean you don't see it directly the effect immediately—short-term—but long-term the more you offer, the more you give, the more you dedicate, the more you will receive, because the material world is just a representation of our reality that we are creating.

So, that is why we also have to know when we are harming the other person because sometimes it is important to know where our limit is and where after that limit when it is actually not beneficial for the other person. And that we have to decide for ourselves. And I think we are wise enough to be able to see that. You can be empathetic, you can be compassionate but sometimes you have to be compassionate in a little more different way by actually knowing what is going to help. So, if you keep on doing some kind of action that is not helping the other person's spiritual growth. Then you have to also take it away so it makes them wake. It makes them see something.

Like if you let somebody abuse you constantly, you are not helping them either. It is not about you can abuse me everything you want. You can shout at me. You can be toxic.

But there is a limit and if you let them do that then that person is never going to learn. They think they have the right to do that. They think that they are right if you are always like, "OK, OK, you are right. You are right," then in the end you are not helping them at all. You are actually harming them.

So you also have to put a limit. You have to say, "Hey, enough! I also have feelings and I am a human being and I am alive and you have to relate to me, too. You have to have certain empathy." So, it's not about being a door mat, obviously. You can be a doormat for a short period of time. But then it is good to be also be something else. That is why you have to be flexible. You have to be able to adapt in a positive way. So by being a doormat all the time is not all the time positive. It can also become something negative so you have to be clever in that way and you have to be able to know. And it is not that you can only know if someone tells me or how can I know? No, you will know.

If you actually follow your instinct, if you are intuitive, if you are open-minded then you will know. If you have to know you will know. It is like that. Sometimes people, we get frustrated because we are like, "Oh, you know we won't know," because maybe we worry about the future so much. We worry about the future so much. We get stressed about something that hasn't happened yet. But why worry about something that we cannot change yet, that we cannot do anything about yet. People are going to worry about things that are going to happen in two or three months. What is it? Why do we waste our energy and our time worrying about something that we cannot change today? Worry about what we have today. Think about what we have today. Don't think about what you don't have today. But we do that, we tend to do that.

So it's not about "Oh, we need a guru or teacher to show me or when I have to do it or when is it.” No, you will know when the time comes. If you are present and you are aware you will know. And that is one of the beauties of life—that we are aware, that we are awake, in a way. Even though we are asleep most of the time. But that is the idea to awake in the life.

Any more questions?

Question: I noticed recently that I am addicted to thoughts so what would be the antidote to this addiction?

Ösel: [Inaudible]

Student: Mmm, nope.

Ösel: [Inaudible]

Student: Sometimes but I know this voice, the discussions, the endless doubt. I am OK with other people. I am sane most of the time when I am awake but when I am in my own company then these doubts arrive or these thoughts come or the indecision comes, which basically removes all the power and then I don't know what is right and wrong. And I am addicted to this constant thought then I can sit down and meditate and I can do mantras, I can do all the antidotes that I have learned here and then at a certain stage the voice says “OK now I am bored,” or “This is not working,” and then I have the permission to now stop and do something else and then I am addicted. So what is basically the long-term antidote for this?

Ösel: The long-term antidote—well, let's talk short-term first. I think first of all having doubts is very good. It is a very healthy thing to have doubts, to question yourself. You know, how we think today does not necessarily mean how we will think tomorrow. Buddha Shakyamuni when he was giving teachings he said, "My teachings, you have to treat it like a goldsmith treats gold," by burning, rubbing, scratching, poking, you know, heating up and melting. All these processes that a goldsmith takes gold through in order to say, OK, this is a precious metal. This is gold. But before the goldsmith takes it as such, it has to go through a process. Questioning is one of those processes and thinking is like a meditation. But there are other ways, like calming the thoughts is good, But also observing the thoughts is good, just letting them come and go and trying to figure out the source of those thoughts—just observing it. That is also a good meditation so in a short time that can help.

Long-term we really need to have a certain dedication and practice in everyday life. Actually take our time to actually practice some real meditation. Actually sit down, do mantras if you want, calm down the mind, start focusing more. You can analyze, you can question reality and at the same time calm down the mind and start really being who you are. You know, not so much thoughts. Thoughts can help but sometimes it is just better without thoughts. And of course if you are more interested in a deeper level of practice, there are many teachers available and many books who teach you Buddhadharma or any other philosophy or spirituality available that works for you with which you can identify yourself which attracts you.

You know for me, I feel my job is not so much to teach Buddhism or Dharma but it is maybe to create a little bit of an introduction to Dharma, maybe spark a little bit of interest in Dharma. That I feel is my job or what I would like to do because I don't see myself as a qualified teacher at all. I am a student of Dharma and Buddhism and I believe I will always be studying Buddhism until the day I die. I will still be studying Buddhism—learning the process of death. So, don't count on me as a teacher, you know, I am just here just a friend to try to help the best way I can and today I think one way and tomorrow I may think another way because my mind is changing, my body is changing, my understanding is changing just like all of you.

You just must be able to move along and be able to see that we are surrounded by change and by vibrations and the beauty of life is moving with that change, being open to that change. And seeing and trying to understand the reality that we are a universe that is a hologram, that is an illusion. That we create our reality, you know, and that is called karma and motivation.

And so we have available—the FPMT, for example, is a great organization because it has the roots, it has the foundation, the tree trunk there available. It comes from the teachings of the Buddha Shakyamuni and the school of Nalanda and His Holiness' teachings, Lama Zopa Rinpoche's teachings. They are all there available in the most pure form. It is the nectar. It is the nuggets. The delicious juice, fruit, the sweet nectar of Dharma and Buddhism is there available in its pure form.

So, we are not going to get misled or misguided because we have that available. And the amazing thing about FPMT is that we can actually branch out and diversify ourselves to reach even more people so we can really create more interest and more identification within humanity. Because today most people are not religious and many people are very ignorant and suffering and unhappy and they're lost. So, if we can help them in a neutral way without something called religion or spirituality or Buddhism or whatever it is. At least create some kind of available means or understanding or hope that says that there is something there. It is there. You can see it is there. And based on that, slowly, if you want to, you can dive in to many different forms, you know. You can try many different things. But there can be so many books that explain to you how delicious chocolate is, but until you taste the chocolate you don't really understand what the book is talking about. But the book helps you to understand better when you eat the chocolate.

So for me when I was in the monastery and I studied Buddhism I didn't really relate to it very much or quite understand it very well until I left the monastery. And I started to experience what we call samsara. That is when I started to really relate to Buddhism and Dharma and the philosophy. That is when I really started to understand better because I could relate to it. So, in that way you have to have the balance. You can't just focus on the one thing but that is kind of the long-term,  to know where you are going with the motivation together. So the wisdom and the method put together.

Without compassion you have nothing. Without wisdom and just compassion you still have something, actually. You can reach very far away just with compassion even though you don't have the wisdom. But the wisdom enforces it. It makes it faster. It makes it easier. So if you put it together, then it is a breakthrough. It can really go so far away. And you have it available. So search with it, take your time, be patient with yourself. But at the same time also dedicate. Don't just chill in your comfort zone all the time. Sometimes it is good, it can be creative, it can be productive. But you also have to work a bit, inside and outside.

More questions?

Question: This is a question to do with forgiveness. I realize it is a process because I try to nail it and when I get there, of course, I am very grateful to look at something that's so painful and see it release but a month later the rock appears again. So I have a certain amount of frustration but I realize that is the path, it is still the goal. But I am acutely aware of the rock reappearing and then I heard now that even science has proven that there is a "click" when the forgiveness does create that shift. So now I am in a little bit of conflict. OK, when is this shift going to happen? When is the click? What do I—is it just patience?

Ösel: I think the click is happening all the time. [Laughs] It happened while you were talking. We are moving forward. And every time we learn better, we understand better. When we look back, we see how much we have advanced. That is why it is really good to look back sometimes to see where we came from to really understand where we are going also. Sometimes we just get desperate because we aren't capable of looking back. But every time you encounter the same problem, the way you see it, the way you tackle it, and the way you overcome it, is very different. And probably much easier and less frustrating. So you just have to see that the clicking is constantly happening, it is always clicking. It is happening right now, right there. Always. And just the fact that you see it, that you are aware of it and that you recognize it, is already more than fity percent.

It is like an addiction, you know for people who have addictions, fifty percent or more is recognizing that you have an addiction. If you don't recognize that you have an addition then it is very difficult. But once you recognize it, that is the foundation because you are creating the cause to go in that direction organically, even though maybe you aren't even doing anything. But you already have the wish or the desire or the understanding.

So, the same way, the spiritual growth works the same way. When you recognize the ego, when you recognize that there is something there that is misguiding you. But at least you are already fifty percent there. So it is very good. It is very positive. Remember to actually overvalue the positiveness, so when you get frustrated look at the positive side and make it big as big as you can. Then you will be overwhelmed by positiveness. Traumatized by positiveness, exactly! [Laughing]

I heard that you are a musician. Would you like to play something for us?

Student: [Inaudible]

Ösel: Yeah? OK, I would like to first dedicate the time we spent here together today. Dedicate all the merits we created to all sentient beings and dedicate it so we can constantly have a very positive motivation to help ourselves improve in order to help other sentient beings to improve, also. And in this way we put all the merits in the bank. Safekeeping. And it will multiply meanwhile. And it will never get destroyed or burnt out by our destructive emotions that we welcome home many times, as if they are the boss. The unwelcomed guests becomes the boss of our home. So we have to be aware of that and not let the destructive emotions take over. We have to constantly be calm, be harmonious. And share that with other people and create the cause to be happy, to be peaceful. And then we can at least not be unhappy and from then we create the cause for the real happiness, the real joy. Not just the temporary happiness but the actual state of mind of the real joy, the understanding of realizing. Taking off the sunglasses of ignorance, of awakening. Of letting go from the candy of attachment in samsara and then being able to really escape so we can help all sentient beings. So in that way we motivate and we dedicate.

[Dedication prayers in Tibetan by Osel, followed by an offering of music by a student.]