Contacting the Bodhgaya Within

By Lama Thubten Yeshe
Lavour, France (Archive #297)

This teaching is an excerpt from a Vajrayogini commentary given by Lama Yeshe in Lavour, France, October 1981. Edited by Hermes Brandt.

Published in Mandala magazine, April 2013.

Lama Yeshe teaching at Tushita Retreat Centre, Dharamsala, India, 1983. Photo: Ueli Minder.

Once, a long time ago, a Tibetan lama wanted to go to India to see his guru there. One of his disciples said to him, "For what reason are you going to India? There is no reason to go. The inner guru is within your nervous system, and if you want to see the deities and create good karma, make offerings to the body mandala within your nervous system, to the dakas and dakinis in your nervous system." The disciple said many things like that, and his guru could not answer.

We can also make the similar observation that our Western minds are often bored within one place, and we desire to go to another. "Oh, I've heard that the beaches in Greece are so nice. So are those in Bali and Hawaii." People consider these good places to go to, but actually the good places of Greece, Bali and Hawaii are inside our nervous systems, which interprets these places as good. Similarly, we always look outside to see physically beautiful sense objects, although there is beauty also within us. Where outside is that quality we consider beautiful? Show me where outside that quality is. In Greece? Not possible. It's not possible that you can find the Vajrayogini quality on Greek beaches.

We think about Bodhgaya, where Shakyamuni became enlightened. So, we go there, look around and feel something too. Enlightenment? We feel something, but we never feel that we have the potential of enlightenment. Perhaps enlightenment exists within us right now. That we ignore. But we go on pilgrimages, hassling with airplanes, hotels and all our heavy luggage. Well, perhaps it is good for some people, but my lazy mind is completely convinced that instead of going on pilgrimage, it is better for me to do just one hour of OM MANI PADME HUM mantras. No, not even one hour, perhaps for only ten minutes. By comparison, I think the energy I would expend in going from here all the way to the East, going round stupas and seeing such things, is rubbish. That's what my lazy mind thinks. I'm not saying this is so for everyone.

For example, we stay in Kathmandu. In Nepal there are incredible holy places, such as the place where Lord Buddha gave his body to the tigers, or stupas like the one in Swayambhunath, where relics from the bodies of Nagarjuna and Vasubandhu are stored. I'm lucky if my lazy mind sees those things once a year. Inside I feel no encouragement to go to those places. Nor do I feel guilty. Maybe I'm sick, but I'm convinced. I also don't do the mantras, but I feel that if I did just ten minutes of mantra with contemplation, it would be much more powerful than going around looking. Of course, I believe that such pilgrimages can have some good karma, but there’s no shaking inside, nothing is stirred up enough.

So actually, Bodhgaya, the real essential place where Lord Buddha gave the paramita, is inside you. In tantra we have the 24 holy places on earth, where many dakas and dakinis live. So also, we have 24 holy places within us. Whatever place in the external world we think is holy is, in reality, within this precious human body.