I’m very, very sorry that you have experienced so much unhappiness and disturbance. Generally in the world it sometimes happens that when someone does even the best thing, for some people that best thing appears to them as negative. It appears negative and they interpret it as negative, and then that is how it appears to them. Because they interpreted it as negative, it appears as negative. Then when someone else does a really bad thing, some people interpret it as positive. They think it is very good. After they interpreted it like that, it appeared that way. It is normal knowledge that whatever appears, it came from one’s own mind. It depends on how one interprets it or how one labels it, whether one puts a positive or negative label on it. Like that, it came from one’s own mind; the appearance is created by one’s own mind.
In the Dhammapada Buddha said, “All phenomena are created by the mind. The mind is principal and goes before.” This means that the mind goes before actions of body, speech, and mind. “For example, if with a good heart one speaks to someone, the result, happiness, arises; for example, like a shadow follows the body.” In the daytime, wherever the body goes, the shadow follows, and, like that, from a virtuous action, the result, happiness, arises.
Then, in the Dhammapada Buddha said, “Phenomena are created by the mind. Mind is principal and goes before. If by carrying a bad heart, one talks to someone, suffering arises; for example, like a cart follows after an ox.” An ox, no matter how cold or hot the weather is, has to pull the heavy cart until it can’t stand up. Like that, all the actions done with a bad motivation become negative, and then the result, suffering, arises.
“That karma should be known. If you ignore the Buddha’s teachings on karma, you are lost. You are not in the truth.” This is not talking about ultimate truth or emptiness, tong pa nyi, but about conventional truth. If you are away from the Buddha’s teachings, the essential teaching on karma, you are not in the truth. Therefore, you really have to pay attention to karma, especially if you think of yourself as a Buddhist. That is very important. It is so important.
In short, in Buddhism when it is explained how everything is created by the mind, one way is that even right now the way things appear to you, as negative or positive, depends on whether you interpret it in a negative or a positive way; it depends on what label you put on it. Like that, all the appearances of forms, sounds, smells, tastes, and tangible objects depend on the positive or negative label one puts on them at the beginning. However, when one tries to find them, what appears to oneself is merely imputed by one’s own mind. Therefore, they come from one’s own mind.
The other way in which everything is created by the mind is that it came from past karma. If one treated others badly in the past, that karma has a result. If that karma is not purified and oneself, an ordinary being, hasn’t actualized the path, the result happens. This result is the same as the result of the first explanation, but here the explanation is about how the result is connected to a past karma—because one treated others badly in the past, this karma appeared at this time. This is the long-term result. Therefore, what happened to one now is a result of one’s own karma. It was created by one’s own mind—the self-cherishing thought or one of the three poisonous minds, such as attachment, that arose in the past.
That is why Kadampa Geshe Chekawa said in his teaching, Seven-Point Thought Transformation, “Put all the blame to one.” That “one” is the self-cherishing thought. And then he said, “Toward others, meditate on kindness. It is not only something Geshe Chekawa said because what he said is based on the Buddha’s teachings, on the Buddha’s advice.
That is why the Buddha said,
Do not commit any unwholesome actions.
Engage in perfect wholesome actions.
Subdue one’s own mind.
This is the teaching of the Buddha.
The very essence of the Buddha’s teachings is that practicing Dharma or practicing meditation means subduing one’s own mind. It is not just about learning the words and putting many subjects into the brain, like inputting information into a computer. “Subdue one’s own mind. This is the teaching of the Buddha,” is not like that. Practicing Buddhism is about subduing one’s own mind. That is the very essence of the practice of Buddhism.
Also the great bodhisattva Shantideva said, “If one didn’t give harm in this way in the past”—“in the past” is added here to make it more clear—“nobody will harm you at this time.” Shantideva said that in Bodhicaryavatara on the basis of the Buddha’s teachings. Then following those words, it says, “Because in the past I gave such harm, I deserve to receive harm from others.” [Bodhicaryavatara, 6:42]
The Buddha said this. The self-cherishing thought thinks, “I can kill them. I can harm and cheat them. I can do anything to others but nobody can get angry at me and nobody can harm me.” That thought is the selfish mind, which is like a totally negative dictator. There is no logic in the self-cherishing thought, which is what thinks, “I want” or “I don’t want.”
Also Shantideva mentioned, “My karma persuaded them, therefore I receive this harm.” Because you harmed a sentient being, they harm you. Then, “So didn’t I make that sentient being get lost in the hole of the hell?” [Bodhicaryavatara, 6:47] Who caused that person to give harm to you? You caused it—because in the past you harmed that being, now that person is harming you. Then their harming you causes the person, who is now in the human realm, to no longer be a human being and to be born in the hole of the hell.
Thinking like this is a way to develop compassion. Instead of being angry and wanting revenge, you generate compassion and the wish to help the other being as much as you can. You can even pray for them to have a peaceful mind and virtuous thoughts, to stop creating negative karmas and do only virtuous actions, and to generate bodhicitta and achieve enlightenment. You can even recite OM MANI PADME HUM to benefit that person back. At least do like that.
Yes, of course, there need to be strict rules and in a country, but in your case you still need to subdue your own mind; that means you need to pacify the three poisonous minds, attachment to this life, and the self-cherishing thought because all your sufferings come from them. All your sufferings are caused by them. That is why probably only Buddhism says, “Subdue one’s own mind.” If practiced properly, Buddhism subdues one’s own mind.
For example, the Hindu founders complained about Buddha because he drank milk and then the cow babies didn’t get milk. If Buddha has mistakes, that means Buddha is not enlightened. So if he has mistakes, that means you have to come down and say that Buddha is not even an arhat, one who is free from samsara, but has the three poisonous minds, besides self-cherishing thought. Then coming down even more: he is not even an arya being. Then coming down even more, he is an ordinary being, like us. So then it means that no one is enlightened. There is no one who is enlightened; it comes down to that conclusion.
Like Buddha, His Holiness the Dalai Lama is criticized by some Chinese who say that he is the most evil being on Earth. They always complain about His Holiness and advertise His Holiness as being totally crazy. Those people regard themselves as much better than His Holiness, and regard His Holiness as very low. It is not like that at all. Most people in the world highly praise His Holiness, not only as a religious person or an expert in the culture of Buddhism, but as a very practical and modern person. It is unbelievable how he can relate to modern people. For this reason most people highly respect him, even those who are not Buddhists.
Also His Holiness was predicted by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, who said that Tibet is a special object to be subdued by Chenrezig, the compassion buddha. It says this in the sutra White Lotus. “When the Buddha was in Milk Park,” that means in India. “From the Buddha’s tsurbu, treasure hair.” This is a white curled hair here [in the center of the forehead], the length of an arm. “Five-colored beams were emitted from that and went to the northern side.” Tibet is the northern side. “Then, looking at that side, he smiled.”
“Then, Bodhisattva Eliminating Obscurations requested the Buddha, ‘Please explain the causes and conditions of that.’” Then, the Buddha said to the bodhisattva, “Son of the race, in the place of those to be subdued, who were not subdued by the past, present, and future buddhas, which is an outlying country filled with hungry ghosts and cannibals, in the future the holy Dharma, like the sun rising, will happen and will spread and the sentient beings there will be led to liberation and enlightenment. Who will subdue the outlying country is Arya Compassionate Looking One, Avalokiteshvara. Why is that? It is because in the past Arya Avalokiteshvara, when he was doing the bodhisattva deeds, made a prayer in the presence of one thousand buddhas. In the place where the past, present, and future buddhas didn’t put their feet, an outlying country, may I bring those sentient beings who are also objects to be subdued in the path to great liberation, the path to enlightenment.” This is the first prayer.
The second prayer is: “Also in that outlying country, may I be the one to subdue those sentient beings.” It is the same prayer. The third prayer is: “May all holy Dharma taught by the three-time tathagatas spread and increase in that outlying country.” The fourth one is: “May all those sentient beings who hear the names of the Three Rare Sublime Ones and go for refuge to them achieve the bodies of happy transmigratory beings and enjoy the holy Dharma.”
In the sutra Dzama Do it says, “When the Buddha was passing away, the surrounding bodhisattvas requested him, ‘In the northern side country, the Snow Land, where the Buddha didn’t put his holy feet and didn’t give teachings, please abide for those sentient beings.’ The Buddha said, ‘Now the sentient beings who are objects to be subdued in India, Tibet, and so forth are finished. Since there are no sentient beings who are to be subdued directly by the Buddha, for the lazy ones to pursue the holy Dharma and to eliminate the wrong concept of permanence, I will show passing away into the sorrowless state.’” The Buddha said that. I just mention that sutra by the way.
“At the moment the sentient beings in the Snow Land, the country of Tibet, are all animals.” There are no human beings at the moment. “And of all those who die, there is no sentient being who goes to the upper realms. All, like snowfall on the ocean, go to the lower realms. In the future when my teaching in India sets, at that time, for you, the bodhisattva, those sentient beings who are in the Snow Land of Tibet will be your objects to be subdued. At the beginning, the bodhisattva will manifest and then spread out to human transmigratory beings. Then he will draw them with miscellaneous charity of food and so forth. Then, afterwards he will draw them with the holy Dharma. Then he will do work for sentient beings.”
At that time, that is His Holiness as Chenrezig, either the Four-Arm or Thousand-Arm Chenrezig that we visualize. At the moment we can’t see Chenrezig; we can only visualize him. That which we can see is a human form. For us who have a very obscured mind, he appears in a human form showing birth, sickness, and death. He appears in a very ordinary form because our mind is ordinary. Those who are enlightened, who have completed the path through listening, reflecting, and meditating correctly, can see His Holiness as oneness with Chenrezig. Not only that, they see him as oneness with all the buddhas. Those who are not enlightened but are arya bodhisattvas also see His Holiness as a buddha. Even ordinary bodhisattvas can see His Holiness as a buddha. Then, even very ordinary beings who haven’t generated renunciation, bodhicitta, or right view but have a realization of correctly following the virtuous friend see His Holiness as the numberless past buddhas, present buddhas, future buddhas, and they see every single action he does as all the buddhas’ actions. Many ordinary sentient beings can see or realize that. However, of course, those whose minds are unbelievably obscured, totally foggy, like nighttime without any stars, and have no luck, see His Holiness as an evil being. So also in this case it is the same thing—whatever appears is created by one’s own mind.
In this regard, Madhyamaka philosophy, when explaining in general about karma, lendre, cause and effect, says that a bowl of liquid appears to the buddhas as the most pure nectar, the highest nectar. Because a buddha has totally ceased the disturbing thought obscurations and the subtle obscurations (the negative imprints left by the ignorance holding to true existence), a buddha does not have a dualistic view and a dualistic mind. Even though that liquid also appears as nectar for the suras, it is not the same as the nectar for the buddhas. However, it is still nectar for them. For human beings, the liquid in the bowl appears as water. It appears to pretas, who don’t even have the karma to see water, as pus and blood. In terms of karma, that things come from your mind is an extremely important subject. How you see things comes from your mind. Therefore, as I mentioned already, you created it by your own mind. So please understand this. If you are a Buddhist, this is the most important basic thing to understand.
In the past others cheated us and gave us problems, and then we used this experience to practice. We did not take revenge and we did not get angry at them. We even highly appreciated the people who cheated us or who caused us troubles. Even though we didn’t do that right at the beginning, later we realized how those people who treated us badly are so kind, just as we had thought at the beginning. So later on we saw those people as having the most inexpressible kindness.
Thank you. Thank you very much for understanding.