Welcome to our June e-letter. Due to your kindness and generosity, we received $10,000 in donations during Saka Dawa. Thank you so much for all your support! Please read on to see what offerings we have for you.
The Enlightened Experience: Collected Teachings
NEW TO THE VIDEO ARCHIVE: Be the Captain of Your Boat
“Be proud because you are; be humble because you belong.” In this video, Tenzin Ösel Hita encourages us to meditate at least a little bit each day because regular meditation is the key to realization. Ösel then discusses the mind and explores the paths of decision-making and purpose-finding in this excerpt from a Dharma talk given at Tushita Mahayana Meditation Centre in New Delhi on April 7, 2019.
WHAT'S NEW ON OUR WEBSITE
Don't miss out on this month's new additions to Lama Zopa Rinpoche's Online Advice Book:
- Dolgyal Confession: After commencing the practice of Dolgyal (Skt: Dorje Shugden), a student confessed that they had not followed the guru’s advice and asked what to do.
- How to Use a Stupa to Bring You to Enlightenment: Rinpoche gave this advice to a student who had a new stupa in their house.
- Transforming Depression: A student wrote to Rinpoche about a sixteen-year-old relative who had severe depression. Rinpoche offered this advice.
- Meditations for Anxiety: Rinpoche sent this advice to a student with cancer who wrote that her husband was hospitalized due to his severe anxiety.
We are grateful to work with so many amazing translators who make our publications and transcripts available in languages other than English. Please see our website for links to translations in sixteen languages.
On Retreat with Rinpoche
Several LYWA staff had the great opportunity to attend the five-week Vajrayogini retreat with Rinpoche at Institut Vajra Yogini in the south of France that ended recently on June 15. It was a powerful retreat that went beyond any expectations and that had an overall feeling of great joy, harmony and devoted effort. LYWA staffers joined hundreds of retreatants from all over the world in receiving lamrim teachings and commentary on Vajrayogini practice from Rinpoche for over 35 days.
Some of the highlights included midnight tsog offerings; sipping hot chocolate and eating delicious French pastry together with Rinpoche after the teaching each night; and the pure-land like conditions at Institut Vajra Yogini--beautiful gardens, panoramic views of the French countryside, good food and warm-hearted volunteers and staff.
All these precious moments and conditions supported everyone in their effort to accumulate collectively more than ten million Vajrayogini mantras. The essence of the retreat was captured in this stanza of Merry Colony's praise to Rinpoche offered at the long-life puja:
While we may not have yet realized renunciation, bodhichitta, or emptiness,
There is one thing we do know without mistake or doubt:
When the kind and holy lord Guru is teaching,
There is nowhere else we ever, ever want to be.
Until enlightenment, may we always be among your foremost disciples fulfilling your every wish.
Big Love Update
THIS MONTH'S TEACHING: The First Clear Step
From Lama's point of view, Buddhism is about you. The subject of this meditation course is not Lama—Lama is not interested in talking about Lama—the subject of this meditation course is you; this course is about you.
So, learning Buddhism—learning about yourself—is that simple. It really is such a simple thing.
And Lama is not trying to be mystical, as written in some books, saying, "I am a magic Lama." We don't try to teach you that way. Actually, we don't need to show you how to make magic—your mind is already magic, isn't it? We've always made magic: for countless lives, and even from the time of our birth until now, we've been making magic, cheating ourselves. Nobody else has had to teach us—we've taught ourselves to cheat ourselves.
Our schizophrenic mind always blames others for our problems. From its point of view, "He is causing my problems, she's causing my problems, my parents are causing my problems, this society is causing my problems." From Lama's point of view, these are completely wrong conceptions; this way of thinking is schizophrenia, this is mental disease; with these wrong beliefs, misconceptions, you will never be able to solve problems.
We often think, "This is negative: that is negative." But we have a wrong conception about what causes negativity and the problems we experience are reactions to this wrong conception.
Therefore, you have to be determined that during this meditation course you are going to realize completely that the problem is your misconception and that the blame definitely does not lie with others.
We always think, "He makes my problems, she makes my problems," because our mind is not integrated. Our mind is split so we always blame this and that. We don't have straight understanding, right understanding, right view, right wisdom—that's why we're always confused.
But this time you have to decide clearly what really makes you happy and joyful and your life meaningful, and what makes you unhappy, sorrowful and depressed. If you come to this conclusion then your meditation course will have been worthwhile.
Don't think that meditation means merely sitting still trying to concentrate on only one thing. It's not just that—that's not nearly enough. If it were, that would mean that when you went back down to Kathmandu your concentration would disappear, and being left without wisdom there would be no benefit from having taken the meditation course. Rather, you should have great determination to develop discriminating wisdom by understanding perfectly clearly—at least intellectually—what really causes problems. In this way, even when you are not sitting cross-legged, trying to concentrate, but walking down a Kathmandu street or back in the West, you have something to hold onto, something that allows you to judge how your mind is interpreting things—you are aware.
Otherwise, if you don't have at least some intellectual method, how can you check yourself? There is no other way that you can check to see if your mind is on some illusory, samsaric trip, full of wrong conceptions or perceiving the right view. Without this, how can you know?
Why is it that many people say, "I"ve been meditating two years, six years, more ... but I'm nowhere. I've gained nothing!"? It's because they don't have understanding knowledge-wisdom; they cannot discriminate between right actions and wrong; they can't see.
Maybe you can say intellectually, "Oh, what is right? What is wrong? Right and wrong are the same thing." I'm sure many people in the West say "Oh, what's right? What's the use of saying this, Lama? It's all the same thing. Samsara is the same as nirvana." But this is a wrong conception; everything is mixed up. They cannot discriminate between what is reality and what is false, and all they are doing is using the terminology of Dharma wisdom in the wrong way.
Of course, in absolute terms the ultimate reality of right and wrong, or samsara and nirvana, is the same thing. But when somebody makes you agitated or angry and you get red in the face and start to tremble, can you say your peacefulness and your anger are the same thing or not? That example shows you reality and you should not get hung up on some intellectual point of view that is way up in the sky, while you are stuck down on the earth all tied up by that. It does not help because the words that you say are not true.
If somebody says to you, "Oh you are such a bad person," and someone else says, "Oh you are so good," it should never affect your mind. Good and bad come from within you and other people cannot make you good or bad. You have to realize this and once you have, you cannot be moved by what people say.
But, if somebody tells you how good you are and you say, "Oh yes, yes, yes," grasping at it, and somebody else tells you how bad you are and you say, "No, no, no," getting depressed as a result, that shows that the words you say—"Good and bad are the same thing"—come from merely intellectual garbage rather than from the realization of reality. If you really realized reality, it is reflected in your actions, which are not in conflict with your words. So whatever situation you are in, it does not matter—your mind is not moved, you always have control.
We usually think that our point of view is correct. Yet if somebody comes along and says, "You're completely wrong," we get nervous because we've picked up his idea—and that's all it is—and believed what we are doing is wrong. The idea alone makes us freak out. So our becoming agitated and freaked out does not come from absolute reality, does it? All we have picked up is the relative idea, yet we have become confused and upset. So this shows how we are, how our relative mind functions in normal, everyday life.
Checking this is much more interesting than talking a lot about some philosophical point of view, some higher subject. This isn't interesting—it does not help us because it is merely intellectual, it is still an idea. So when you get angry? Your anger is not an idea! Your jealousy is not an idea!
And also, you should know that Buddhism is not a diplomatic religion. Lamas are not diplomatic people! Without hesitation Lama will tell you about dirty things and kaka. It's true!
We always talk diplomatically, saying "Oh you're nice, you're nice," or "How are you today?" and so on. Of course, this is necessary in everyday life when we contact other human beings; being respectful to others is worthwhile. But when talking about the truth, Dharma wisdom, being diplomatically nice cannot help. You have to check up the nature of negativity; you have to check up the nature of positive. You should check up everyday. But I'm sure you people—all European people—always want to see only positive things in their life and the negative side gets hidden beneath your sweater!
But this is not the character of Lord Buddha. This is not the character of Buddhism. Really! Buddhism tells you exactly the way you think, the way you lead your daily life. Therefore, when you really communicate with Lama or with a Dharma book or whatever, you can correct your actions. It is fantastic for your mind—you can solve your schizophrenic mental problem. And then, whether others tell you you are right or wrong, it does not matter. Your being right or wrong does not depend upon the words of other people.
So you can see how much we're suffering from schizophrenic mental disease. Somebody will tell you that you are good: "Oh yes, yes—I'm good," you're up. Somebody tells you that you are bad: "Oh no, no—I'm bad," you're down. So that's really our mind's nature. That mind is samsara. Lama thinks that is samsara. Lord Buddha thinks that is samsara.
So what I am saying is that you should have perfect determination, knowing that understanding knowledge-wisdom is the only solution to problems, the only source of happiness and joy.
So that we call Dharma. Understanding wisdom is Dharma. Dharma is not this robe! And actual Dharma has nothing whatsoever to do with the culture of a particular country: it is not the culture of Western people nor the culture of Eastern people. Culture is the point of view of the ordinary people, the unwise majority who spend their whole time grasping at sense pleasures with attachment. Dharma wisdom has nothing whatsoever to do with the point of view of the foolish common people. Perhaps you could say that your understanding knowledge-wisdom is your own culture!
Lama Thubten Yeshe gave this teaching at Kopan Course No. 7, held at Kopan Monastery, Nepal, in Nov-Dec, 1974. You can read the complete teaching here on our website.