E-letter No. 14: May 2004

By Lama Thubten Yeshe
Cumbria, England 1977 (Archive #123)
Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Lama Yeshe, Lake Arrowhead, 1975. Photo: Carol Royce-Wilder.

Dear Friends,

Thank you for subscribing to our monthly e-letter. It’s great to be able to communicate with you in this way.

As you know, we recently published Lama Yeshe’s The Peaceful Stillness of the Silent Mind. One of the Discovering Buddhism at Home students recently posted the following comment on the program’s bulletin board:

For any of us who is struggling with anxieties or doubts—and who can say they are not?—the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive has just published a new booklet by Lama Yeshe: The Peaceful Stillness of the Silent Mind. It is a miraculous book; more helpful than a year of psychotherapy, or many anti-anxiety drugs or antidepressants. The core of it is a meditation on the silent mind. It is very simple, very deep, very effective…Thank you, Lama Yeshe and the LYWA for this wonderful, precious gift.

You can read it on line or ask us to send you a free copy.

Our membership drive is going well, but we still have a long way to go to reach our target of 600 members. However, more than 100 people have signed up, so I thought I would give you an idea of how their contributions are being put to work. I am most grateful to the skilled editors who are putting their life and energy into this important project.

• Ven. Ailsa Cameron is working on Rinpoche’s general guru devotion teachings and will then work on his Ganden Lha Gyäma commentaries.

• Ven. Tenzin Namdrol is going through all the Kopan course transcripts, lightly editing them and also breaking them up electronically into topic “baskets” according to the major headings of Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand, in preparation for final editing of all Rinpoche’s teachings on each topic to form an amazing series of detailed lam-rim commentaries as described in Preserving the FPMT Lineage.

• Ven. Thubten Labdron is checking the accuracy of the course transcripts in the Archive before Ven. Namdrol starts work on them and is helping out with other editorial projects. 

• Ven. Lhundub Damchö is preparing Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s advice to students on an incredible array of topics for publication in one or more books of consultations.

• Ven. Sarah Thresher is working on Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s teachings from the recent mahamudra retreat in Australia.

• Michelle Bernard is preparing some of Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s lam-rim teachings for publication as books for the trade, the first of which will be based on his teachings on the perfect human rebirth.

• Trisangma (Elizabeth Heimburg) is editing Rinpoche’s Vajrayogini commentaries for publication.

• Linda Gatter is working on our anthology of teachings by some of the greatest lamas of our time.

• Two other editors are working on Lama Yeshe’s U-tha-nam-che (Madhyanta-vibhaga) and Chö-dang-chö-nyi-nam-che (Dharmadharmata-vibhaga) teachings.

• I am working on Lama Yeshe’s Manjushri commentary for Wisdom Publications (see this month’s teaching, below).

We have several other projects in the works with other editors, so you can see there’s plenty going on. However, we are still barely scratching the surface of this incredible resource that is the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive, and that’s why we need another 500 members. I know $1,000 is a lot of money, but what a great investment!

Thank you so much for your support of and interest in the Archive. Please let me know if we can do anything for you. In the meantime, here’s another short teaching from the Archive for you.

Much love,

Nick Ribush

Understanding Reality

These days, in the West, we hear a lot about the open heart, about opening your heart. This is common. From the Buddhist point of view, in order to open your heart, you have to realize something. “I want to open my heart, but how?”—this is the question. Opening has to do with realization; no realization, nothing opens. It doesn’t matter that you say, emotionally, “I’m open. I love you; you love me so much.” That doesn’t mean you’re open. We do that kind of thing, don’t we? “No matter how much I open myself up to you, you never open yourself up to me.” It’s a joke. It’s not true.

Well, perhaps it’s true in one sense, but actually, true openness implies space—your consciousness embracing some kind of wide totality. This experience of embracing totality itself becomes the solution, or antidote, to the narrow, fanatical, conceptualizing dualistic mind.

But then there’s the danger of the attitude, “Wow! Universal reality is incredibly special,” arising. We get the impression that shunyata is a really special, fantastic phenomenon. This attitude is wrong. Instead of, “Oh, non-duality is special, up there; the ordinary, relative bubble of samsara is down here,” which is completely wrong, our position should be more realistic: whenever there’s the appearance of the bubble of relativity, we should simultaneously see non-duality within it.

When we’re in a conducive environment, we find meditation easier—because we’re free of the vibration of the conflict of duality. When we’re out and about, in contact with the objects of the bubble of relativity, our hearts immediately begin to shake; sense objects make uncontrolled energy run rampant within us. Because we don’t see the non-duality of universal reality within the bubble of relativity, our reactions to objects in the sense world are fragmented. If we could see reality, we wouldn’t shake every time there was a change in our external environment.

Why, when the environment changes, does your behavior change immediately as well? You know, I like talking about this. For me, this is much more realistic than talking philosophy. So, why do we change like that? Well, look at what happens to you here. As soon as you leave the meditation hall and go into the dining room, you manifest as something else completely. You’re almost another person. Why? Because you differentiate between deepest, essential nature of the meditation hall and that of the dining room. If you could see universal reality of these two rooms—and essential reality is non-differentiated; it has a unified quality—you would not change so easily. You see, we are completely intoxicated by the dualistic mind; the dualistic mind completely overwhelms us. The vibration of each different environment too easily influences us. We think we’re in control; we’re not in control.

When I look at a lovely flower, I’m too influenced. I’m intoxicated by it. When I look at something else, that, too, intoxicates me. I’m completely dominated by my dualistic mind; I have no control. I’m completely influenced by the external world and from my own side, am totally helpless. We’re all the same—we’re constantly under the influence of whatever we see and hear outside. It’s incredible. The dualistic, relative mind intoxicates us, while our wisdom realizing universal reality is in a deep sleep. Now is the time to reveal and activate that wisdom.

Our dualistic minds are so rigid. As soon as the environment changes, our reality changes. While we’re here at the center, it’s all Dharma. When we go into town to have fun, the sense world bubble of the dance club becomes our reality. Why am I taking this negative approach? Because it’s more realistic. This is our experience. If I just talk abstract philosophy, you can’t relate, because it’s not your experience. I like to talk about experience. Why, when the environment changes, does your reality change? That’s all I’m asking.

You must really understand this yo-yo mind. The yo-yo mind is always up and down, and that’s how you spend whole life—going up and down. The relative environment changes automatically; there’s no unchangeable environment. So as the relative bubble of your external environment constantly changes, your reality constantly changes, and you really believe that this is this and that is that. You have no universal understanding. That’s what makes you and all other sentient beings suffer.

Lama Yeshe gave this teaching at Manjushri Institute, England, in August, 1977, as part of a commentary on the yoga method of Divine Wisdom Manjushri. Edited from the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive by Nicholas Ribush.