What experience do you have? After the breathing meditation when you watch your thoughts, how do you feel?
[Answer not audible]
Rinpoche: Are they all sleeping?
Student: I think of my attachments after I've done the breathing meditation. I can't help it; they just come into my mind.
Rinpoche: I see. That's very nice. You are conscious of your attachment; that's good, very good, extraordinary. Even just recognizing it is very good. Even more students should recognize that they have attachment. This is the difference, the meaning of being a human being.
Actually, starting from “the mind is beginningless,” all of these meditations are actually methods to eradicate attachment, to make it completely non-existent; and not only attachment, but all the rest of the delusions. Just by understanding the meditations you cannot eradicate attachment. First you have to understand the meditation then, by listening, by understanding well the technique of the meditation, you have to continue the practice. As you continue practicing, meditating, gradually it decreases attachment; your method of meditation becomes stronger and stronger and you lose attachment.
Did anyone concentrate on the thoughts?
Student: It seems to be like a series of thoughts coming. Each one always had a relationship to the one before; you can always find some relationship between the chain of thoughts.
Rinpoche: There's always relationship to other thought?
Student: The second thought arises only because there was something about the first thought that gave rise to the second thought. There was always some connection.
Rinpoche: That's interesting, very good.
Another student: Sometimes, like when watching the mid, the mind is there bubbling with thoughts, but also a great deal of pictures, like watching an uncontrolled picture show. What was it, was it ego watching the mind, or the self watching the ego? Just uncontrolled pictures, pictures, pictures.
Rinpoche: When you sit, you make pictures? You are asking is that ego, or what?
Student: Yes, is that ego I'm looking at?
Rinpoche: You mean the object, is that ego?
Student: Yes, it’s like me looking at an uncontrolled picture show. Is that me watching the ego, or what?
Rinpoche: The watcher is the ego. The watcher watches. The subject is ego.
Student: Like watching a crazy television program, crazy pictures all the time. What are these pictures? What causes them?
Rinpoche: That's what I was going to ask, I think you stole my question. How is it explained by scientists? How is it scientifically explained, how thoughts come?
Rinpoche: Has there been any time when there are no actions? What about the period of sleeping? When you want to not think anything, when you want to be quiet, not arising any other thoughts or memories, but you can't. Why is that? How is it explained scientifically?
Student: I don't think they can explain it scientifically.
Rinpoche: I see. So without sleeping, there is no way for the mind to be quiet? Do you think it is a possibility that the mind can be quiet without arising any memories? Like wherever you are at the moment, your consciousness just concentrates on that, not rising any other thoughts. Like if you make plans for one hour and you concentrate on that, the concentration lasts for one hour, as you make plans, and then days or months like this.
Student: Just concentrating on one body, that's shamatha?
Rinpoche: Yes, shamatha meditation. I see, so it’s not explained, the cause, which makes you have no choice. Like whenever you want to concentrate without any other thoughts rising up, you find hard. So why is it not explained scientifically?
Students: Because science doesn't see it as a problem. I think there are scientists who are experimenting with the mind constantly chattering. There have been experiments in the United States with sensory deprivation, where people have been put into a dark or semi-dark chamber or room with nothing to touch, except maybe they're lying in water. They float in saline water. So they get no sensory information coming to them as they habitually have had. The experiments were done with marines and army personnel, and they freaked out after a little while. They put meditators in and people who had been experimenting with LSD and they stayed in there for long periods. Meditators and people who took LSD could stay there longer.
Student: I went in one of those tanks, which was devised by the man who began those experiments. It’s a sensory deprivation environment: you had no light, no sound, no fear of drowning because you're in neutral buoyancy and half your face is covered with water, and the upper half of your body is above water. They put you in and they show you how to open the door, then they say they'll come back in an hour or so. I found that—I was in there about a year ago—I had a steady stream of consciousness the whole time. Most psychologists in the West talk about a stream of consciousness and they're not even thinking about trying to stop the stream. I asked John if he had any special tanks where not so many people went, because some of the people who go into the tanks freak out and then when you go in there they've left all these residual vibes. You can telepathically tune in to those spaces that other people have been in while you're in there. A lot of fear is there but I didn't feel that it was my fear.
Student: One thing a lot of people reported was the sensation of another body floating at an angle to their own.
Student: I find that my negative mind gets very worried and bored, and if I try to keep no thoughts there, I have an inner dialogue “Oh, something's wrong, you're sick of something.” But if I only take one thought at a time and make it the right sort, if I put the unselfish thought for it to work on, then I don’t have any negative thoughts.
Rinpoche: I see. So when you think, when you decide not to have any thought, that time you get scared?
Student: Well, the negative mind tries to make me scared.
Rinpoche: You are correct, that can happen because that kind of thing is new, so fear can rise because of the negative mind.
Student: Excuse me Rinpoche, is it possible to only have one thing in your mind at once? Because before we were singing mantras and as an exercise, while I was singing, I tried to write something as well and now I don't know whether I was writing in the little moments of space between the words when I was singing. Can you think of two separate things at once?
Rinpoche: It depends, that can happen. That can happen. Even if you are not conscious of each word of the song, even though you are writing, it is possible. If you have the habit, if you have trained, if you have repeated it for a long time, it can happen. Sometimes it’s also like reading a text but your mind is paying attention to something else. But in regard to the consciousness on two objects, like if you are hearing something, if you put your whole energy to that sound, you are not conscious of the forms that you are seeing, even though you are looking at them with your eyes. You are looking at them, possibly not being conscious, not knowing the object, because the whole mind is paying attention to the sound. It can depend on how strong you put your consciousness, where you put it stronger.
There would be some kind of clarity when you are really watching the thoughts. If there are no distractions and your mind is not having much movement or much change—like in one second so many pictures come, so many things happen in the mind, so many things are passing—when the mind is not in such a stage, when the mind is quiet, then when you watch, when you really find the object, things like that are possible. As you concentrate, sometimes, as you are continuously concentrating on that, you don't even feel your body. Also it is possible that as you are continuously concentrating on this, you feel much happiness, blissfulness.
This meditation is temporarily good, but it is not sufficient; it has to be related to something. When you find this right object you have to relate with it in the meditation, then that makes you realize the absolute true nature of the I or the mind. Anyway, first of all having experiences like this is very useful, but if you only spend your life like this, then that is not skillful.
Also, what you should check up is when you start to concentrate on watching the thoughts, check where the energy goes, where you are putting the energy—whether you are putting it into the feet or whether you are putting energy into the brain. Where does the energy go? One day maybe concentrate but try to find something, try to hold something; try to find the object, try to hold the object, that energy, that feeling, whether you feel it in the feet or whether you feel it in the brain.
Student: Do you recognize where the energy is going by the physical sensation?
Rinpoche: Oh, you can recognize.
Students: Do different thoughts relate to different parts of your body; like with embarrassment you get flushed or red in the face? By watching your thoughts, could you be turning the energy back into the thought so it dissolves into itself? So instead of reacting to it and carrying on, you're turning it within yourself, and it just eats itself up. If you watch the thought long enough, will it dissolve, or what?
Rinpoche: Dissolve what?
Student: The thought just runs out because it hasn't anything to grab onto, if you are looking at it as though it is not connected to your body.
Rinpoche: That kind of thing happens; this is one technique. There are many techniques, different techniques. It also helps control mind scattering. There are many different techniques that the meditators practice, use.
There's one technique: as your mind wanders around and thinks of something in pictures, objects, or many things happen, you can just run after that, but consciously. Just run after that; what the mind wants to do now, how much it's going to do, the superstition, which is many pictures, even in one second. You have to be conscious, otherwise it doesn't make sense, otherwise the usual scattering thought itself becomes the meditation and then it doesn't help.
Being conscious, for instance, if you remember some kind of previous thing, like making journeys, traveling to a country, then the mind goes from this place to that. The mind discusses different things, traveling, going from that place to that place; it thinks gradually like this. So you have to be conscious in following it, and being conscious, you just follow the superstition, which brings many pictures. This is one technique. Then while you are conscious, if you check like that, afterwards the superstition sort of stops. It just stops; it can't go anywhere. But that is not a very quick method. Also, if you can't be spontaneously, continuously conscious, then the whole thing becomes distraction, scattering as usual.
The quick way, the meditation technique to stop the scattering thoughts arising, sort of seeing many pictures arising, the quickest technique is instead of looking at the picture, to look at the thought that projects the picture. Just hold it, watch it, just concentrate on that. As soon as you think of the subject, the thought, the picture the thought projects is stopped. So this is the quick way.
That's why after the breathing meditation, doing this meditation is useful at the beginning, to do this if you can. It helps to have longer concentration and it is very useful, especially for us. It is very useful for us to do research about our feelings, research about the mind. This is much better; you have the mind and you are checking with your own mind, which is existing, which is real.
Rather than reading books and trying to imagine what is in the book; to simulate with drugs, to imagine the mind or something like that—as you have the mind, you just check up what you have there. This is the most accurate way to check up, to make research; this is more fantastic than what people have experienced through drugs, those things. Also, there can be mistakes many times. If you check up with your own mind, which is existing, which you don't have to find outside, there is much more, you can discover a lot of things. There is so much to learn. There is a great deal to learn just from your own mind, within your mind. There's a great deal to learn.
This mantra: TADYATHA OM MUNÉ MUNÉ MAHAMUNAYÉ SVAHA.
TADYATHA means “like this.” It is also possible it means, for instance, that Guru Shakyamuni has great infinite knowledge, he has completely perfect power. Then, as it comes in the mantra, OM MUNÉ MUNÉ MAHAMUNAYÉ SVAHA, usually it means “sublime, best, jewel, treasure.” It has many different meanings, generally according to Sanskrit.
OM is composed of three letters. The first, ah, then long one (~) and one zero on top, that makes OM. This contains all the infinite knowledge of the holy body, holy speech and holy mind. This is what the om signifies or what it contains.
OM MUNÉ MUNÉ MAHAMUNAYÉ SVAHA, there can be different meanings on that.
MUNÉ: the first MUNÉ, having control over the wrong conception of the self, “I.”
MUNÉ: the second MUNÉ, having control over the self-cherishing thought.
MAHAMUNAYÉ: MAHA means “great.” MAHAMUNAYÉ means “great control over the dualistic mind, the subtle obscurations.”
SVAHA: means “to put the root of all happiness.”
Actually, what we are asking by reciting this mantra is to receive the power to control the wrong conception of the self, I, and the self-cherishing thought on the dualistic mind. Also another way, it’s also possible that the meaning is as follows:
MUNÉ means “having freedom of not being born in the suffering realms, such as narak, preta and animal.”
MUNÉ: “having control, having freedom of not being born in samsara.”
MAHAMUNAYÉ: it’s possible like this: there is what is called pratimoksha. Moksha means liberation, nirvana; prati means individual or self. The arhats, who are out of samsara and have received everlasting happiness, because they have received this blissful stage, everlasting happiness, not waking out of that concentration, out of that stage, they live in that stage for eons and eons. But even though they are out of samsara, there's still self-cherishing thought. So they don't work for sentient beings as a bodhisattva benefits sentient beings, as a bodhisattva works for all sentient beings. Sort of like this: when we have very comfortable sleep, like in the morning time when we have such comfortable sleep that we don't want to waken and get up from this, we want to continue sleeping. Sort of like that example.
Anyway, the bodhisattvas have freedom over this pratimoksha, the individual everlasting happiness, seeking only the everlasting happiness for oneself and living for a long time in that stage, not concerned and not working for other sentient beings like the bodhisattva does.
Student: Rinpoche, those people, would they still be creating negative karma by having the self-cherishing thought?
Rinpoche: They have finished their uncontrolled karma, they have finished that. They don't have samsaric karma, they are out of samsara, but still by creating merits they can receive enlightenment.
Reciting this mantra, also if you remember the meaning, it is very effective, very powerful, and it becomes a request to receive these freedoms. This mantra has much power and all the buddhas of the past, present and future received enlightenment by depending on the path, which is contained in this mantra. Also, by reciting this mantra, eighty thousand eons of bad karma we have created —like in past times as we were talking about, so much bad karma has been created—reciting this mantra has the power to purify the negative karma we created in that length of time. The negative karma created in that length of time can be purified by reciting this mantra.
Generally it is useful to recite not only when you are meditating but also when you are working, when you are out. You can recite this mantra anytime—while you are working in the kitchen, while you are working in the house or while driving your car, outside—any time during these actions.
Also it leaves much impression on the mind if you are reciting this mantra, and if other people or other sentient beings can hear you, like animals, it benefits their mind so much, it has great effect. By hearing the sound of the mantra, because the mantra contains incredible powers and so much realization, the path, the knowledge of the enlightened being, therefore, by hearing the mantra, it leaves an impression on their mind. It plants a seed.
Just as some people find it very difficult to learn Tibetan—I'm just generally saying—but for some people somehow it is very easy to learn Tibetan, as if it is natural, quite usual, kind of not new. Also learning prayers, some people find it very easy and some people find it very difficult, extremely difficult. That depends on how strongly they had connection before, and that depends on karma. The reason someone finds it so easy to learn, it seems sort of nothing new, is because in previous lifetimes, just before this present life, for some reason they had been in Tibet or they learned prayers, so they have much karmic contact. In their previous life they learned these things, they heard these prayers and it left an impression on their mind, so this lifetime they find it so easy, it just easily comes in the mind when they see this, when they hear this. Some people find it very hard and however much it is taught or repeated, they find it very hard to come in the heart. That depends on how much impression has been made, how much impression it has left on the mind.
In previous times the great philosopher Nagarjuna, who has written many teachings on absolute nature, or shunyata, when he was saying his prayers, the texts—this great philosopher achieved the undying realizations, long-life realizations, undying, not having samsaric death; he was also a great pandit having achievement of all the realizations, the general realizations and even the highest tantric realizations—while he was in a cave and reciting the many pages of his prayers by heart, there was a pigeon sitting just above the cave. The pigeon heard these prayers all the time, so after that bird died he was born in India and became a monk. He became a disciple of Nagarjuna, called Lobpön Loden, and he became great in writing the texts. He also wrote many texts on Buddhadharma.
Like this the mantra has much power, so it is always useful to recite. Especially when some animal or person dies, while they are dying, just at the time when the breath is starting to stop, just at that time, if we can recite this mantra very loudly, also that can benefit so much to make the life quiet, it helps a great deal. Of course it also depends on the person's karma, things like this, how much they understand, but still it helps a great deal to have less fear.
Student: Excuse me, Rinpoche. Is there any difference in power between this one and the other great mantra, OM MMANI PADME HUM? Is there any time you would use one or the other?
Rinpoche: You can recite both. The other one is very beneficial. Yes, the two are the same.
For the nighttime meditation, you can spend a little more time in the Guru Shakyamuni yoga purification. Spend a little more time reciting that mantra, making very strong visualization of the light coming, the white light coming and purifying, then the knowledge and wisdom light. Spend more time on this. Then after the two lights have finished, do the absorption, then become oneness and concentrate on the emptiness. Actually this meditation is not simple, this Guru Shakyamuni yoga meditation contains many things; it is not simple. Afterwards as you go through the graduated path, you will understand. However, if you can do this, it is incredibly beneficial.
Anyhow, after making the purification and receiving the yellow light—the knowledge of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha—after that you concentrate on the meditation as we repeated. So you concentrate on the graduated path, the first part of meditation. Then after that, make the absorptions and concentrate really strongly when you become oneness with emptiness, at that time. Concentrate as strongly as possible for a little time.
When you do meditations on each of these freedoms, as you have each of these freedoms try to recognize the freedom, try to feel it. In that way, by recognizing the particular freedom, if you really understand, you will really feel great happiness. If you really understand, you will receive great happiness, incredible great pleasure.
Why we don't feel great happiness now, why we cannot make ourselves happy, why we cannot feel happy is because we don't recognize our freedom and those different un-free states. The different beings, how they are suffering—we don't realize this. If we realize this, if we know this, instead of feeling upset, worried, we can feel such great pleasure.
Actually, even if we had many worlds full of jewels, it cannot make us receive freedom. Even that many material things cannot make us receive freedom from being an animal or those other suffering beings. So, each of these freedoms, even just the freedom of not being an animal, is much more useful, much more precious than having galaxies full of jewels. Even if we have that many materials it doesn't make us receive freedom. Just having all those material things doesn't make that result. So, this is something, only we don't recognize it because we are deeply ignorant. The meditators who really recognize this feel incredible great pleasure, more than finding and possessing a whole world full of jewels.
Gradually as you make purification, the understanding grows.
From the holy speech of the great bodhisattva Shantideva:
[1:6] Hence virtue is perpetually feeble,
The great strength of evil being extremely intense,
And except for a fully awakening mind
By what other virtue will it be overcome?
"Without the virtue, the thought of full enlightenment, what other virtues can control the unending great powerful negativities? Therefore, check up on the powerless virtue." Without the virtue of the thought of full enlightenment, what other virtues can control the unending great powerful negativities or sinfulness? It can be translated as sinfulness or negativities.
The meaning of the sentence, “Therefore, check up on the powerless virtue,” the quotation continues from yesterday's quotation, which was “Due to the blessing of the Buddha, in the main, very few worldly beings have the thought of fortune, happiness.” Then comes this present quotation. It explains why the worldly beings who have the thought of fortune are very few. How it is rare and what causes it. So Shantideva said in his present teaching to check up on the powerless virtue. That means the reason why there are very few worldly beings who have the thought of their fortune is because they didn't create the great powerful virtue of bodhicitta. Even if they have created virtue it is powerless, very little.
What he's trying to say is the reason why such a being, behaving with the thought of fortune, is very rare is because of not having created the greater powerful virtue of bodhicitta. Even if they have created virtue it is powerless, such very little virtue. Why is it this virtue they have created cannot control their negativities? Because their negativities are greater, more powerful than the virtue that they have created. So, as Shantideva was trying to explain to the ignorant sentient beings, the great powerful negativities do not finish quickly, cannot be controlled, cannot be finished, cannot be purified by other virtues, without the thought of full enlightenment, bodhicitta.
What Shantideva is trying to say also is that if you want to purify as quickly as possible all the great powerful negativities—which have been continuing so far from beginningless lifetimes—and numberless negative karmas, then the most skillful, wise method is to try to cultivate the pure thought, which leads sentient beings into enlightenment.
The person who tries to practice bodhicitta, even though they don’t know much about different art, philosophical teachings or different religions, even though they don’t know different letters, even though they don’t know other general education, like handicrafts, many things, since they are training their mind in bodhicitta, what they are doing is more skillful than any of those other methods. Their knowledge is the most useful, beneficial knowledge, more than any of those other common forms of knowledge. If the person wants to benefit others, the best way to benefit others is by having the pure thought of bodhicitta. Even if they want to benefit themselves, the best way, without one single action, in this life and in future lives, in all lifetimes, is by having the pure thought of bodhicitta.
As these teachings, these explanations are given by such great pandits with their experience and as we have the chance to hear these teachings, to talk about these things, and have the chance to practice meditation on this, instead of having a closed, narrow mind, it is better to open the mind. And while there's a chance in this short moment, while having this precious human rebirth, it is extremely important to train the mind in bodhicitta. It is something that can be practiced right away, right away.
In order for our action of listening to Dharma to become the quick cause of receiving enlightenment and a greater beneficial action to other sentient beings, it is necessary to be possessed by the pure thought. Therefore it is necessary to have at least a short motivation like this.
“It is not sufficient that I am released from all samsaric sufferings. Numberless other sentient beings are experiencing suffering without guidance, without a method. I must enlighten them by releasing them from suffering. To do it by myself, first of all I must achieve enlightenment. To achieve enlightenment I must complete the realizations of the whole graduated path to enlightenment. Therefore, I am going to listen to the profound teachings on the graduated path to enlightenment.”
The subject you are listening to is the Mahayana teaching, which leads the fortunate person to enlightenment. It is well-expounded by the great philosophers Nagarjuna and Asanga; it is a profound teaching as if the essence of the unequaled great pandit Atisha and the Dharma king of the three worlds, the great Lama Tsongkhapa's knowledge, was shown. It includes the 84,000 teachings shown by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha and all this arranged for the graduated practice of our achievement of enlightenment. And this graduated path to enlightenment is the one path through which all the buddhas have received enlightenment.
This commentary on the graduated path has four outlines. The last one of these is the way of leading the disciple in the path to enlightenment. This has two outlines:
- The way of following the guru, who is the root of the path.
- The way of training the mind in the graduated path to enlightenment.
This has two outlines:
- Persuading the mind in order to take the essence with the perfect human rebirth.
- How to take the essence of the perfect human rebirth.
This meditation, persuading the mind in order to take the essence with the perfect human rebirth, involves three meditations:
- Meditation on the perfect human rebirth, which involves the eight freedoms and ten receptacles.
- The usefulness of the perfect human rebirth.
The meditation on the usefulness of the perfect human rebirth is categorized in three divisions:
- How the perfect human rebirth is highly useful to achieve the ultimate goal, such as enlightenment, receiving nirvana, the cessation of samsara, and the temporal goals.
The perfect human rebirth is highly useful to gain the ultimate goal or even to gain temporal goals, such as being born as those samsaric gods, being born as a rich person or being king of the universe, the different continents. If we have a temporal goal, such as being born as a rich person, as a king, like this, it also includes perfect enjoyment, having great material enjoyments, having everything we need. The goal also includes material enjoyments, such as our surroundings, and if we wish to have many friends and don’t want to be alone, we will always be surrounded by many friends, many servants or many helpers.
Generally thinking, between the lower creatures, the animals and human beings, even in this life human beings have much more freedom than lower creatures, even the temporal success to do with this present life. During this life, the temporal success, the temporal works, what has to be obtained before we die, if we make the comparison, human beings are much freer than the lower creatures, than other suffering beings.
[Reading from Wish-Fulfilling Golden Sun, p. 86]
Wasting this very precious human rebirth is many millions of times worse than losing universes full of precious jewels because:
1. It wastes the numberless lives spent trying to gain this precious rebirth which has resulted from good karma, created by morality and charity. These virtues have been practiced mainly in the human realms during several lives, each of which was the result of many others.
If you think in the depths of your mind, just concentrate on that sort of thing.
Think, try to feel that this present human rebirth is the result of good karma that has been created in many previous lifetimes, such as following discipline, trying to keep the precepts, keeping away from negative actions by surmounting the difficulties, also creating much charity. Don't think it has been done by God or some other people.
Think: “In many of my previous lives I created this karma. In many of my previous lives I've been trying very hard to create these karmas, such as to be born again with a perfect body. So, if I waste the present precious human birth, which is highly useful, which can be used to receive enlightenment in this lifetime, and also can be used to gain many other things, the great end, the pure end, to receive different levels of different realizations, such as release from samsara. There are many things which can be done with this perfect human rebirth. If I don't use this present human rebirth in such a way, as it has such great meaning, using the present human rebirth for only creating negative karmas, meaningless actions—which make no difference between me and the creatures that are crawling around outside, on the ground, in the trees; always searching, seeking the comfort of this life, food and heat; not doing any meaningful actions, which are the essence—if I use my precious human rebirth in that way, I am wasting it. All my previous lives who tried to create good karma to bring this result, I am wasting all their energy.
“By not practicing Dharma with this birth, only doing meaningless actions, I lose, I waste a precious chance, all the previous chances to receive full enlightenment, cessation of samsara and nirvana, those higher realizations. I do not realize shunyata, my nature, and there’s no bodhicitta, no fully renouncing samsara, no good karma of observing morality and charity, creating charity, which makes to receive a better rebirth and meet the teachings again in a future life. I lose this by wasting this precious human rebirth, by using it for meaningless actions. I lose many precious chances, which sentient beings in other realms cannot obtain, many of the chances that they don't have, by wasting this present perfect human rebirth.”
Think first of all: “If I use this perfect human rebirth only to gain the success of this temporal life, nothing to do with future lives, nothing to do with to receive everlasting happiness, if I use this perfect human rebirth only for that, only to gain the success of this temporal life—to obtain food, clothing, reputation, these three, and never practicing Dharma—I waste also many future lives, many future perfect human rebirths, which can be received by creating good karma with this rebirth.
Also, with the future perfect human rebirth I can receive enlightenment and those higher realizations, those higher goals that I don't achieve in this life. I also lose this chance by wasting this precious human rebirth.”
Think: “What is the difference between me and the animals? What are my actions while having this human rebirth, what higher actions do I do, which have meaning, which are higher than animal’s actions? What do I do? Actions such as stealing and cheating, animals also do. Animals can also steal. Animals are also wise in stealing. Actions such as killing others; that is nothing, all the lower creatures do that. Actions such as having sexual intercourse; all the creatures do that, all the tiniest insects, even these. Having ill will; that is nothing special. Having ill will, thinking how to destroy others’ possessions, how to give harm to others, like making plans for years and years on how to do that. How to be sneaky, how to destroy others with ill will, even the animals have, they're much wiser. Even they have, not only human beings. Having miserliness, also animals have; the non-human beings also have miserliness, trying to collect materials, such as the temporal needs of this life, also animals can do. Even tiny insects, even the small ants, are so wise in collecting food, getting food, seeking to attain happiness in this present life.
“So, all my daily life actions, what I do from morning until nighttime, the purpose of all my actions from morning until night is nothing transcendent, nothing higher than that of those non-human creatures, their actions, their daily life actions. Nothing is higher, same thing, same thing. It's only done to gain comfort of this life; nothing else. There’s no higher purpose, no higher goal. The same thing, everything is done with attachment, all this, the works are done with attachment. Same thing, nothing, my daily life works are no higher than their actions. Even though I have the shape of a human body, the way I live, the way I act is the same as an animal. My mind is not controlled, not pure.”
Try to recognize the mistakes of the actions. Try to feel that since we received this body, how much of our human life has been wasted. If we think that animals can't do handicrafts, paintings—that this is the difference—also there are many things that humans cannot do but animals can do, many handicrafts, many things. In regards that, there are many things animals can do that human beings cannot do. So, what meaningful action did we do since we were born until now?
[Reading from Wish-Fulfilling Golden Sun, p. 86]
Numberless jewels, as many as could fill numberless universes, could never have the value of this present perfect rebirth. If all the jewels I have possessed in all my past lives could fill an infinite space, what good would that do? If I really think deeply about it I can see that no real happiness would come from that because it is of no use in controlling this negative mind.
Realize that you possess many universes full of jewels, you possess, “that thing that I have.” And then check, check.
“Even if I have many universes full of jewels, this doesn't have the value of the present perfect human rebirth, which can obtain many high goals. Actually, if I count all the jewels I have possessed in my different previous lifetimes there wouldn't be any space left; if I collect all the jewels that I possessed in my different previous lifetimes, there wouldn't be any space left. I possessed that many jewels. But still, there's no change, still the negative mind is not removed. Nothing has changed.”
[Reading from Wish-Fulfilling Golden Sun, pp. 86–87]
We must check up on our own past experiences or put ourselves in the position of a wealthy man to see how material possessions cannot help us put an end to suffering. It is important to deeply see and feel our own experience of such situations.
There are spirits called nagas, inhabiting the animal realm, who are very rich and possess many stores of jewels. (The naga spirits have bodies half-human and half-animal, or of other shapes; they can see humans but most humans cannot see them.) We ourselves have had the experience of possessing such stores of jewels numberless times; we have possessed enough jewels to fill an endless space, yet no suffering has been cured. In the narak there are similar experienced beings, in great suffering.
So, just as we have tried now to do meditation, it is very useful to do checking meditation like this. It's very useful. What I said is just an example to give you an idea of how to check up but you can check better, you can check deeper. The main thing is not the action but the purpose of the action, with what type of mind we do the action. Mainly what we criticize is not the action but the purpose of the action; we create negative actions with a negative mind. That's what makes no difference between humans and the lower creatures.
Even though our shape looks different [from animals], in regard to our life, if we really check up, it’s no different—we don't find anything pure, we don't find anything meaningful in our life actions, we’re just exactly the same. We may be living in a house or apartment, a good apartment, having many swimming pools, having many possessions, many stores of clothes, stores of things. Compared with the creatures that are crawling around that house on the ground, the animals who are living in the forest—we may think living like this looks sort of purer, higher, and others are sort of down, very suffering and very ignorant, but if we really check up we don't find it is any higher, we don't find it any purer. We don't find any difference if we really check up on the way we act.
So, you see, no matter how we look, it’s just temporary, no matter how we look different from those creatures at the moment—a different way of acting, a different way of talking, a different way of going, a different way of living—just looking different, but our purpose, our goal is exactly the same. There’s nothing purer, nothing higher than those deeply ignorant very poor animals, the creatures, nothing higher than them. Everything is done with ignorance, attachment or hatred. If we really check up, it’s exactly the same thing.
No matter if we are flying airplanes, whether we're flying rockets, no matter whether we're watching a movie, no matter whether we're enjoying a beautiful park, no matter whether we're swimming in the river—what difference is there between a fish swimming in the water and a human? Actually, we cannot find any higher purpose. The purpose is exactly the same. Only that we don't look like fish on the outside, that's all. The level of mind with which we do the action is the same: the whole thing is searching, seeking comfort of this life. Nothing is done to release us from suffering. It is the same thing.
If we really check up, those who have many possessions, many things, beautiful apartments, many, many things, usually think they're much higher than other sentient beings. But from the meditators’ side, those who practice Dharma, who understand Dharma, if we check up, those wealthy people are the object of compassion. They are so ignorant. With ignorance they think they're being high or they're doing some great precious, useful things, or their duties are higher than other sentient beings! They don’t know the meaning of “human,” they don’t know the meaning of life, how to use the life; even though they have the chance, they’re not being aware of the chance. So, from the meditators’ side those people are really the objects of tears, the objects of compassion. If their situation is really checked up, it is really something that makes us cry.
In this way, it doesn't mean anything that we are born as human beings. If we continue to use our life in the same way, like the length of time that we have so far finished, our time in this human body is soon finished and nothing has changed. The energy is past, finished. If we continue to use our life like this, like animals, like those ignorant foolish sentient beings, then it doesn't make sense that we have this human shape, why we are called human beings.
First of all, I think I will read straight down to the end of the subject. [Wish-Fulfilling Golden Sun, p. 87]
The beginning of these lives is not even seen by the Buddha’s omniscient mind let alone by the minds of ordinary beings, and if I continue to work for these things I shall continue to suffer in the circle of samsara.
Like this, if our previous life had a beginning, if there's something that can be pointed out, then it also would be the object of the omniscient mind. The omniscient mind would also see it. But the beginning of the previous lives, the beginning of the continuity of the previous lives, is not the object of omniscient mind. Why is it not object of omniscient mind? Because it does not exist. The beginning of the continuity of the previous lives does not exist, just like in the example of this life and the previous life. There has always been continuity, even though there are different bodies, there's always continuity. There has been always continuity.
The I, what we call the person, always exists, it's always continuous. As the mind is continuous, so the I is continuous. Therefore, if we were a dog previously, after the dog rebirth, after finishing the dog life, after the previous life, the karmic result of living with the dog’s body is finished, then again we take a human body as we have created such previous karma. Like this, just like this, between the previous life and this present life there's no break. There's no break in the continuity of mind and there's no break in the continuity of the person. There's no break.
If there was a break, how could it be possible that we had a previous life? There would be no reason for that. The I or the person, which was a dog, would not be a continuity of this present person, this present I, because this present human mind is not the continuity of that previous mind.
[Reading from Wish-Fulfilling Golden Sun, pp. 87–88]
Usually I am afraid of the slightest temporary physical sicknesses such as colds or headaches, of suffering from heat or cold, or of the pain of a too full or empty stomach; I find these things really unbearable and try to stop them by all kinds of temporal means.
On the other hand, I am not at all afraid of the greater sufferings I have experienced in past lives—those of rebirth and death and the many other unspeakable sufferings of the six samsaric realms that are caused by greed, ignorance and hatred. Neither to think or worry about these sufferings, merely trying to stop those of the moment, only creates the cause for more future suffering. Such actions are extremely foolish and nonsensical—like those of a crazy person. I can have human thoughts and actions, yet I behave as a dumb animal.
This part of the subject is very useful, very useful. Anyway, I find it very useful! Actually, this part is basically from Guru Tsongkhapa's teaching. Of course, for many of these things the essence is from Guru Tsongkhapa's teaching, such as outlines.
Why I often go through the outlines is because they have great purpose and also it is extremely useful because even just the outline titles have great meaning. They make so much sense. Even just looking at the title has a great beneficial effect on the mind. By going through and understanding the titles, the outlines, even though we don't go through the subject or come to the meditation, we don't participate in meditation, but just by understanding the titles we have a rough idea of the meditation, what type of meditation and what it explains, the essence. We can understand just from the outlines.
Also, the way the outlines are fixed is a very psychological method. It's so beneficial for the mind, to make the mind realized. Also by understanding the outlines it helps us to feel it’s not too complicated. We don’t feel, “The meditation is very complicated,” or “There are too many meditations,” or “I don't know how to practice so many meditations, how to study it, how to begin the practice.” That kind of problem gets solved. Also, even though the commentary of the teachings has many pages, hundreds, three hundred, many pages, by understanding the outline, by having the complete outline in our mind, the whole subject becomes so small, becomes just very few. If we don't find any complications, we find early on it’s so well set up.
In one house there may be all kinds of things, like clothes and kitchen things and all kinds of things, very messy, nothing is set up; then we think there are so many things and we feel very confused! Nothing is clear, it’s very confused, not clear. But if we put things neatly on the shelves—the piles of things, books, clothes, our paint, whatever, wherever it goes—then we don't find any confusion. Even if we want to count our materials, we can count easily what is lost or not! Anyway, it’s much easier and our mind is so much clearer this way. So much clearer, no confusion, also we don't feel it’s messy, even though the number of material possessions is the same, whether we put it all like this or fix it. Anyway, sort of like this example—it's very useful, very useful, so useful, very, very useful.
Tonight are you confused about doing the meditation? It’s very easy to do meditation, very easy. You can expand the meditation or if you want to make the meditation short, through outlines you can make short, just brief meditations, or you can expand each of the meditations to the extent of the commentary. There are choices. When the mind is well-trained in any meditation, when you have clear understanding of the meditation, when your mind has been trained well for a long time, then if you have the realization of the meditation you don't have to go through it with many words, you don't have to go through it with many explanations, it doesn't need that. Just by remembering the outline you don't need many words; it just makes it very clear in your mind. Just thinking that, just remembering that, you can see the whole subject very clearly. You don't have to go through it with many words, like now we're trying; it doesn't have to be like that.
In the beginning it is very necessary and so important to go through the explanations, which make things clear. The most important thing, the quick way, the quickest way to understand the previous meditation and to realize the meditation is on the basis of understanding the outlines, the titles of the meditations, the essence of the subject. Then you can check. You check. You do checking meditation. As you continuously do checking meditation, you will find you can see clearer and clearer and the subject goes deeper and deeper. Your mind becomes clearer and clearer on the subject. So you can make commentary by yourself. With your wisdom, you can make commentary. With your own commentary, you have a stronger feeling about what the book says. Just from the text sometimes you don't feel much.
When the realized person hears the teaching, because their mind is tamed, they get much feeling. With an unrealized mind, an untamed mind we don't feel anything when we hear the teachings or when we read, but sometimes, as we're practicing meditation, the commentary that comes, the explanation is coming through our wisdom. With our own individual meditation practice, we get more feeling because somehow it came through our understanding. So, it has much feeling. Many of the notes—the titles and essence are from the teachings—but many notes are my own superstition: a crazy lama's superstition!
Also it is very useful when we do checking meditation for it to be repeated, because in the beginning it is very difficult if it is not repeated again and again, it’s very difficult to do the meditation. Depending on our capability, sometimes that’s why we find difficult to do meditation. Even if we try to read a book, perhaps our mind easily wanders around, gets distracted and we spend more hours in the distraction than in the meditation. We do maybe five minutes of meditation and spend two hours in distraction, even though our physical body is sitting there.
Therefore, I think, usually we don't repeat all the time in other meditation courses, but here I will do so to make it easier, to create attention. As it is repeated, you can try to understand what is being repeated, and as you understand, you can write down in your notebook the repetitions, like the essence of the meditation. The whole reason here is to think of the essence of the subject, when you make meditation on this specific subject, what you have to remember, which is useful. The whole thing is not just to understand but to use it, however it’s not necessary to remember all the time.
As things are repeated that are not in the book, if you write them down, then afterwards, when you have time at home or any place, wherever you go, you can take it out when you meditate, then it is easier. You have the equipment. Just as when you feel hungry you have the food to eat, delicious food. So like that, it will be useful.
But when you do checking meditation by yourself, that time it is very useful, as you do checking meditation, you find deeper explanations within your own wisdom, as you continue with the meditation. At those times, as you find a deeper explanation, it is possible, as you continue with the meditation, the power of the mind, the knowledge of the mind, through the continued meditations all of a sudden the mind becomes open. And all of a sudden you understand things! Even though you didn't see the subject in the book, it comes. It's the power of mind as you continue the meditation. It comes also mainly because of purification.
When those things come, you can write them down in your notebook about Dharma, in the collections of the meditations: the book of Dharma. You collect all the explanations of the meditation subjects. Then, when you meditate again, you use the explanation that came, the understanding that came through your wisdom, again you use. Your feeling grows, your feeling, your understanding grows in that way. It becomes clearer and clearer with the explanation you found through your wisdom, you have such a strong feeling with it.
The main purpose of doing meditations in a fixed schedule, at a time of day, early in the morning—that's the method actually to make the rest of the daily actions aware and conscious. What you're doing and what sort of mind you have, and how you're doing it, to be conscious. By being conscious of what you're doing, there is a chance that your daily life is pure Dharma, there's a chance that all your actions become Dharma, not opposite from the meditation. Then, the specific subject of meditation is never lost, like this. So if you do like this, meditating for half an hour, doing meditation for a short time in the morning, then you make the rest of the day useful.
Try to remember the meditation and check up. Always try to be aware whether your life is Dharma, whether your actions are Dharma or not, always check up. Always check up, be aware. This way, your life becomes really meaningful, really practical and really pure. Then, even though you don't wear robes, even though you don't look like that, if you do like this, if your mind is conscious and trying to put all things in relation to Dharma, trying to become Dharma, all the actions become pure. That is the thing that really makes the life highly beneficial or pure. It's very useful, very useful, very useful.
Also, if you do like this in your daily life, there is much less confusion in your daily life, much less confusion, much less worry. Because of the nature of Dharma, if your mind is aware of the Dharma, it helps you to understand the nature of your confusion, the nature of your problems. So, the mind has much less suffering. Like this. It helps greatly. Even if something has gone wrong, your mind has much less problem, is more relaxed, happier. If you can do like this, no matter where you are, even though you go to your daily life job, whatever you do—excellent. The main thing is to take care of the mind, to check, to try to be aware of different states of mind and then try to keep in purity. That is the most important thing.
Just like the water source—the fountain or spring, the main place from where water comes into the cities—if it is poisoned, then all the water that is placed in the cities, the different villages, all becomes poisoned and gives lots of harm to all the people who drink it. Just like this, the mind is like that, therefore it is so important to take care of the mind. The mind is the thing from where all the actions come, negative or positive, those which bring confusion and those which bring happiness. The mind is like the main place from where all water comes in the city. The mind can be dangerous, therefore, the main purpose of practicing Dharma is to take care of the mind.