E-letter No. 2: March 2003

By Lama Thubten Yeshe
Sydney, Australia 1975
Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Lama Yeshe, Lake Arrowhead, 1975. Photo: Carol Royce-Wilder.

Dear Friend,

Welcome to our second e-letter, and thank you for being on our list. Please find below a short, previously unpublished teaching by Lama Yeshe, as we promised.

We have just printed a new free booklet by Lama Zopa Rinpoche, The Yoga of Offering Food, which is similar in format to our popular Daily Purification: A Short Vajrasattva Meditation. We will soon be mailing this to all our benefactors. An Archive benefactor — one who does good —is someone who contributes $10 or more to the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive. Your donation enables us to preserve, edit and publish the teachings of Lama Yeshe, Lama Zopa Rinpoche and other great teachers of our time. As a benefactor of the Archive, you automatically receive our new publications when they become available. You can make your donation and/or order a copy of The Yoga of Offering Food on line at www.LamaYeshe.com right now!

If you go there you'll also see that we have started building up our archive of photos of Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. We will continue adding photos of our precious teachers, so please keep coming back.

Our recent free book by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Illuminating the Path to Enlightenment, a 250-page commentary on Atisha's Lamp for the Path and Lama Tsongkhapa's Lines of Experience, which we co-published with TDL Publications, Long Beach, CA, continues to be extremely popular. If you have not yet received a copy, you can see and order it on our Web site, www.LamaYeshe.com, where you will also find many other wonderful teachings and links to other great Dharma sites.

Also, our CDs are now back in stock. We have two Lama Yeshe video CDs (which you can play on your computer): Three Principal Aspects of the Path and Introduction to Tantra, and two audio CDs: Lama Zopa Rinpoche chanting OM MANI PADME HUM and Praises to the Twenty-one Taras. These are free; please pay shipping and handling. You can also order these at www.LamaYeshe.com.

Thank you so much for your kind interest and for your support for the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive.

Much love,

Nick Ribush  

Know What You're Doing

These days, even though many people realize the limitations of material comfort and are interested in following a spiritual path, few really appreciate the true value of practicing Dharma. For most, the practice of Dharma, religion, meditation, yoga or whatever they call it is still superficial: a change in what they wear, what they eat, the way they walk and so forth; things that have nothing to do with the practice of Dharma.

Before you start practicing Dharma, you have to investigate deeply why you are doing it, what problem you're trying to solve. Adopting a religion or practicing meditation just because your friend is doing it is not a good reason.

Changing religions is not like dyeing cloth, like suddenly making something white red. Spiritual life is mental, not physical; it demands a change of mental attitude. If you approach your spiritual practice as you do material things, you'll never develop wisdom; it will just be an act.

Before setting out on a long journey, you have to plan your course by studying a map, otherwise you'll get lost. Similarly, blindly following any religion is also very dangerous; mistakes on the spiritual path are much more dangerous than those made in the material world. If you do not understand the nature of the path to liberation and exert yourself in the wrong way, you'll get nowhere.

Therefore, before you start practicing Dharma, you have to know where you are, your present situation, the characteristic nature of your body, speech and mind. Then you can see the necessity for practicing Dharma, the logical reason for doing it. You can see your goal more clearly, with your own experience. If you set out with no clear vision of what you are doing and where you're trying to go, how can you tell if you're on the right path? How can you tell when you go wrong? It's wrong to act blindly, thinking, "Well, let me do something and see what happens." That's a recipe for disaster.

Buddhism is less interested in what you do than why you do it; your motivation. The mental attitude behind an action is much more important than the action itself. Outside observers might see you as humble, spiritual and sincere, but if what's pushing you from within is an impure mind, if you're acting out of ignorance of the nature of the path, all your so-called spiritual efforts will lead you nowhere and are a complete waste of time.

Lama Yeshe gave this teaching at the Adyar Theatre, Sydney, Australia, in April 1975. Edited by Nicholas Ribush. Read the rest of this teaching in Chapter Four of The Peaceful Stillness of the Silent Mind.