Religion: The Path of Inquiry (Audio and Unedited Transcript)

By Lama Thubten Yeshe
Brisbane, Australia, April 1975

This an unedited transcript of the talk that is the basis of the second chapter of Lama Yeshe's book Becoming Your Own Therapist. It is provided here as a companion to the recording of this talk.

Perhaps tonight, the subject is the character of Buddhism.

Many people has different idea, the character of Buddhism and the character of religion. One who only judging superficial intellectual levels, what is character of Buddhism, what is character of religion, I think impossible he understand what really means, Buddhism, what really means religion.

And also, the superficial point of view of religious idea in this world, I think not same thing in Buddhism. It means, I saying is, the Buddhism is, as you understand religion, I think that don't fit, as you, fix the religion is this, that…as you imagine.

First of all, fundamentally, Buddhism is, first of all talk about to student or whatever talk about, is not interesting talk about, about Buddha. Buddha himself is not interesting the idea about him. He not interesting. He not interesting, people who believe in him. And so Buddhism never emphasizes you should believe in Buddha. That's not interesting. The interest, real interesting is, to know what your character nature, what your nature, what your psychology. If you are human being you have psychology, isn't it? So to know your own psychology, to know your own mental attitude, to know your own concept, and to know your own perception, to know your own conscious, that is most important.

Otherwise, you forget about yourself and totally deluded and looking something higher idea, What is Buddha? such intellectual, almost your spiritual trip is sort of dreaming and hallucinating. Possible. We be careful. No connection between Buddha or God or you. Completely separate thing. You beginning completely separate. Yourself is completely underneath, down, and Buddha is completely up there, or God is completely up there, which is nothing connected linked at all. If you think that way, I think not realistic. You too extreme, you putting, one is extremely putting up there, one is extremely putting down. That is, terminology Buddhism thinks, dualistic mind.

If the human nature is completely black and negative, what point searching higher idea? Idea is not realization, isn’t it?. So, this, I think Western very much interesting intellectual realization, intellectual realization, wanting know about highest one, highest one; what is highest realization? Want to know about highest, I think so, yeah, god nature. That is only idea, idea. Almost nothing so ever to do with your, I mean, earth, your life, your mind. Idea is not realization.

You see, in Buddhism, not interesting you learning only idea. More interesting what is approach right now, putting together into your own experience, right now what you are, fundamentally what you are. You understand? How to make you satisfaction, how to make happy and joyful rather than depressed, you're totally negative, your nature is. So Lord Buddha himself say, his philosophy, the human nature is pure, and human nature is without ego. It means your nature is not ego, not sin, not negative, just like sky nature is not cloudy. Cloudy is coming, going, isn't it, but sky nature is always blue, isn't it? It's character is there. By, by clouding it's not changing the characteristic nature of sky. So the same thing, the human nature or human mind or human soul is the pure, and not totally characteristic nature of the ego. But one thinking, one mix up, cannot separate his conception of himself, his way of living life without ego, he's totally misconception. No matter he is religious or non-religious. Doesn't matter; he put himself totally unrealistic philosophy, nothing so ever to do with reality.

Instead of looking religious trip, instead of looking highest idea, learning intellectually so much grasping, instead of learning that way, better the basic your understanding the nature of your own mind, how this treatment right now, the method is. So important, so important, how to put into your own action, effectively. It means method, method, the key of religion. That is learning is most important.

Otherwise, you learn, somebody has tremendous material and such, such house, you don't know how to, how to pick up that key, you don't have key. that house has fantastic jewels and these things, and explain somebody's house, something has, and you excitement, isn't it. “Oh, that has, yes." [Lama laughs] So much interesting, with hallucination, you see, somebody talk about, but you don't have key how to get that, isn't it, for you. So the same thing, same thing, so much fantastic religious idea, peak experience…I'm not sure what I'm saying.…yeah, and we talk about, and people so much interesting that, but people don't interesting putting right now into action, what method is. It's so unrealistic. There is no method, there is no key, how to approach that into your own everyday living life…how can you, what is it to do? The religion is worst than Coca-Cola, isn't it? Isn't it? Idea, you put religion is idea value. Idea is pfffff, just like air, air. Coca-Cola drink and solution to get thirst isn't it. So air is nothing It's possible. The way of we practicing, way of we make judgment religion is, I think be careful.

Lord Buddha himself says, “Belief is not important. You never believe me, because I said so.” He stops, he stops, end of his words, before he died, Lord Buddha he passed, he say, "Now conclusion is, you don't believe, you don't accept because I says.” He says No, he refused. “I tell so many methods…” because reason, he says, "I made so many methods, I giving, it individual people, and your wisdom checking that method exactly you fit, with psychological, with your mind, and so logical, so practical for you, you take that. If that is fantastic idea, but is nothing related with you, don't. That is somebody else.

Therefore, it's very true, in this modern nowadays, you can't say, “This is this because Buddha says, because God says.” They think, "Oh, who want." That not enough for them. what I mean,. For them that is not enough; that's not sufficient proovement [proof].

So one who does not understand one's mind is nature is pure, he lose his possibility, he couldn't see the possibility. When his mind is, he think, is totally hopeless and negative seeing, he lose his hope.

Of course, the human mind has positive side and negative side too. But negative is very temporary, temporary. When you are temperament, temperament up and down, that is like cloudy. But nature of real basic human nature is pure.

So you can see, Buddhism is, as in the West judgment is, many times, they are wrong. Many professors, they interpreted such way, by looking words, words, words. They don't understand real, real Lord Buddha's method. So, the so, so any religious idea, practical levels learning, what is the method, and to putting into your own experience, that is the most important, if you understand that one, so much effective...and so natural, it's so realistic. Better understand, then you better your own nature, your own mind. You not surprise your mind seeing. So then, when you understand your own nature, control is natural, you don't need pushing hard. Control is natural.

Many people think control is something very, sort of tight, must be tight, sort of bondage another life, putting like that. Control is so natural, dear. First of all uncontrolled mind is natural aren’t you, you say, you going say? Uncontrolled mind is nature. So the same thing, when you realize the nature of your own mind, uncontrolled mind, the control also natural. Never work, the internal world, the mental attitude you pushing, never ever work. Impossible by, by giving punish, these things, physically, like that [shows beating] and mentally you tight, you beating yourself, impossible that purify your mind. Impossible, impossible. It's the mental things, isn't it? Impurity, sin or whatever you call negative, or whatever you call bad things, the psychological thing; the mind thing, the psychic thing. So that cannot stop by the physical movement. Impossible. It need the process skillful method, skillful wisdom.

And also, to do this, you don't need something special believe up there Buddha or God. I mean, you don't worry about that. When you realize what your nature is everyday is up and down, the characteristic nature of your own mental attitude, incredible. You just want automatically to approach that solution. Because it's the your knowledge.

Otherwise, nowadays, seems Western people think, "Oh religion now doesn't work.” [Lama laughs] Religion is work. Fantastic, it has solution. But the people who are lack of understanding the characteristic nature of religion, therefore we are weak. Actually, look at. If you look at the materialistic life, you look at, it's all condition is, conflict and agitated condition.. You can never fix materialistic life, one day I say I want this way live. How you can fix, one day? If I, Lama give question right now, one day you want this kind of life, feeling this kind of mind, how you can fix? First of all? Yeah, one day, I tell you, forget about months, years, weeks—one day, morning get up until you sleep, how you can fix your mind such way ? [Lama laughs] How you fix?

So, you understand? Whatever you make, material comfortable, you put this way, you fix this way, you fix this way, you have that, you have that way, but you can never fix mind, that life internal feeling is same this way I should be today this way. How can you fix? Although you make so much tremendous material effort and vibration you make, house this way, this way, “Oh, I should be today this way.” How can you do? I can make exactly decision, there no way, as long you have uncontrolled, the [Lama laughs] agitated, dualistic mind. Impossible. I'm not put you down is, ; I'm talk about psychological things, I'm not talk about this, this body.

That shows, however you make material comfortable, however, however, how much you make, "Oh this makes me happy, today I'm going smoothly happy all the way long,” impossible. That constantly, automatically changing, changing, feeling changing. That shows materialistic life is doesn't work. That doesn't mean, doesn't mean, that doesn't mean I saying for you people renounce materialistic life, and have ascetic life. I'm not showing, you understand? But the religious, religious understanding, if one who really, correctly understanding, with correct effort and action, fantastic. Because the material alone, the external material alone, cannot give satisfaction for the human mind. So that is only reason the understanding what you call religion, or you call philosophy, or whatever you call, doesn't matter, but to know your own psychic nature, your own mind nature, your own mind feeling, it's so extremely important. Doesn't matter what you are trip. What you call name: religion or philosophy or doctrine or whatever you call. But know one's own experience one's own feeling, so important, so important. Therefore, our own experience, Buddhism is, not just believing emphasized; emphasizes experimenting this method, putting into action, how effective: something coming change or same uncontrolled. You understand? This is the Buddhism, and way of we checking is called meditation. That's all.

That up to individual thing. We can never say generalization. It's personal things, personal understanding, personal experience. If your religion, whatever you do, and it doesn't effect, doesn't get solution, doesn't get answer and satisfaction, you must check up; you must be, your point of view, your understanding, something is wrong. That you can never judge, “This is wrong, this religion is wrong, because I do” In this earth, individual people, different way, their own personal, they put idea and view and their own understanding. So make sure your understanding is correct understanding of religious idea, and method and right effort. You must check up that. If you really sincerely, with understanding, with right effort if you do, you can discover real inner satisfaction. You discover satisfaction is not comes from this outside things. Satisfaction is comes from the mind.

Yeah, many times we are miserable, or upside down, is we believing such external things is work exactly as you fix. You expecting. When this up and down, you say, “Ah this, this up and down.” You understand? You expecting exactly, without, sort of, unchangeable levels, you expecting to work. Example, house. House, kitchen and bathroom, you expecting, sort of long time. When suddenly breaking, you, you, upside down [sounds like upset-down, when L says it]. That means you don't understand the nature of the bathroom, whatever equipment, is impermanent, is never last, isn't it? When the time, break time comes, comes breaking, isn’t it? [Lama laughs] Is permanently fixed, isn't it?

So the same thing, so same thing, external material, external material, material, we always expecting something, sort of permanent, it's for lasting. There is no lasting material; impossible. So the real, try to do whatever religious trip or meditation or whatever you do, and satisfaction comes from the mind, comes from you. As long you have this, you enjoy. The problem is dissatisfaction, human mind is problem. That nature is suffering, that nature is uncontrolled.

So any problem comes, instead of upset, upset, with expectation, sit down, and instead of doing something, with busy, relax, put down, and check up with your own mind, and that is more effective and making peaceful yourself. And then, knowledge wisdom grow itself. But unpeaceful, unpeaceful, puzzle condition, is impossible to grow wisdom.

The agitated condition is obstacle for the gaining wisdom. So, same thing, misconception, your nature is ego. If you believing your nature is ego, you can never separate, or, you can never reach beyond ego, because your belief is your nature is ego. So once you believing your\ are totally nature of sin, negative, you can never reach beyond negative—because your believing, isn't it? So believe is very important, very effective. You must check up that. Because in the West, very, I think, people consider, you must be unified with ego, otherwise you can't have job, you can't have life, you can't have...I'm not sure. [Lama laughs] It's very dangerous. They can't separate the ego and your mind; can't separate. Ego and life is can't separate that. This is the problem. You think, if you lose ego, you think you totally lose your personality or mind, sort of. You losing human nature. That's not true.

That you don't worry about. When you lose ego, you happy, should be happy. But of course, there is question: what is ego, then? We often say ego, but what is ego? Ego has so many interpretation words, in the West, isn't it? Really, yes, really many people don't know what is really ego. Doesn't matter perfect English; ego is not words. Ego is symbolic, symbolic. The real is, ego is, within you.

I'm sure if I asking this, this, this hall, what is ego, everybody has different idea. If individually check up, detail, not just only words, what really he’s feel what is ego, if I check up now, everybody has different idea. OK. I'm not joking; this is my experience, you understand? I'm not joking, just today say like that. It's experience, my experience. You should check up your experience too. Always we go superficial, “That is ego, your ego.” We always use street, friends, these things, “Oh, that is your ego.” [Lama laughs] Often we do. But we don't know real, what is really ego means.

Many times ego using negative, isn't it? Negative we use, isn't it? “That your ego…ha, who want,” something like that. [Lama laughs] Joking….

So, you say negatively, but actually, if you check up deeper, if you check up real deeper, I think, if I say superficial, really, most, sort of, superficial view, the average people, is ego is his personality, his life. If he lose ego, he has no personality. He’s not man, she's not woman. Almost they going say. Yes. When the woman lose ego, woman has no quality woman. But that's not true, that's not true. But way of West interpreted such way, it comes this kind of, way of interpreted, the life and ego, these things. It’s almost, ego sort of, ego is positive and sort of, social life. If you don't have ego, you cannot go into, you cannot be into social people. You check up deeper, you check up that. It's interesting; you check up that. I'm not talk about physical level; I talk about psychological levels.

Even the West psychologists, they judging ego is so superficial. What they judge ego, they judge is ego is sort of external, physical. The terminology of Lord Buddha understanding is ego is the concepts of the mind, the not outside thing. But of course, ego symptom, ego symptom, or ego's vibration can be outside vibrating, isn't it? It's, like anger…when the anger comes, anger vibration is comes like that, outside. But this not anger, this is the function of the anger. The same thing, ego's, ego is the, not sense movement; ego is the mind. Psychologically, the attitude. It's not what you see, the outside movement.

So when meditate, you can see why today you are down, why today you are up; you can see. But one who doesn't check up what, what they are, only looking, “Today I'm unhappy because sun is not shining,” this kind of reason, so superficial, so superficial. It's not true. Many times your up and down is, psychological things.

So, you can see, the powerful wind come, and disappears clouds, isn't it? Suddenly comes the blue sky. The same thing, the powerful wisdom comes, understanding your own nature of your own mind or your own psyche, powerful wisdom comes, the cloudy, the cloudy negative or ego is disappear. So the, beyond the ego, agitated, uncontrolled mind is everlastingly peaceful, and satisfaction. So, for that reason, Lord Buddha thinks, need closely check up, penetratedly, your own negativity nature, your own positivity nature, both. When the negative mind comes, you shouldn't afraid. Instead of afraid, checking more.

I mean, Buddhism is not only religion, sort of diplomatic, always talk about nice things [Lama laughs], nice things. Not like that. It's exactly talk about what you are. It's so interesting, right now, what your mind, you understand? That is so interesting.

So, you can't only expecting positive things, positive things to say. Positive is, you have also positive nature, you have also negative nature. So to be able to understand both equally, the whole thing, you must, you must express yourself on negative aspect rather than, than covered underneath.

I think that's all. I don't think too much to tell you. Best things is you just give question answer, easier. OK, yes?

Q. Lama, you were saying at the end there that we should express our negative actions, is that right? [Yes.] Like, in other words, don't suppress the negative?

Lama. Yes, you express, you explain your wisdom.

Q. No, I must have misunderstood. I thought you said we should express our negativeness, express, like….

Lama. Express means what? Your connotation?

Q. Express means, for example, come out and say it rather than try and switch it off or suppress it.

Lama. What is, that is too much already emotional levels, better express. There are two things. If it's so down there and your wisdom express and digest itself, better not…you understand? If it’s already here, all the way up already, you just here not coming, that's not good, out better. That’s easy. You understand. Better, actually better, if not come already here, completely, better you explain yourself inside, and through the meditation digest itself, disappears. But if you like keeping, no solution, just keeping here, you understand, no method, then too bad. It becomes sometimes explosion. When the come out, maybe comes with gun and these things, you understand what I mean? That's right yes, yes. Generally, better not come, because it gives tremendous impression in the mind. One time you did, you expressed, fantastic impression in the mind. Then second time comes more powerful. It’s, that mind is developed. Yes, so, so, therefore, must be you, you be carefully, how to expressed and digested that negative aspect energy, you must be very skillful. Yes, good, thank you, thank you. Something? Yes?

Q. Could you please explain the relationship between Buddhist meditation techniques and Raja Yoga?

Lama. Raja Yoga. What, what you do, Raja Yoga?

Q. I do yoga, I just wanted, I do both.…

Lama. You both do? That's all right, yes, but Buddhism, but Buddhism meditation is more emphasize penetratedly checking, the knowing what you are, how you are, your true nature. Not too much emphasizing physical exercise, those things, as you this do. OK? Good; very simple. Meditation means, also, does not mean also, meditation means you sitting, sort of, form, like that. You walking, you talking, you walking street, you, whatever you doing, everyday life, as much possible, you put into understanding levels. Be conscious all the actions. OK? And not harm unconsciously yourself and not harm unconsciously other beings.

Q. Does the Buddhist control his prana completely through his mind?

Lama. Yes. If the mind control, (snap.) you control your, every thing. Yes. This is like central, central radio: the one control, everything control. Yes, it's so important, the mind control is so important. Otherwise you just make physical, put like that, impossible, impossible. It the control, this physical, even control, physical is come from the mind. Otherwise you just force yourself, you understand, then maybe you break completely your mind. Possible; because you pump yourself, no understanding; very dangerous. Good, very good.

Q. You can reach a deep state of meditation by walking?

Lama. Sure, possible. Yes.

Q. As deep as sitting still?

Lama. Oh, possible. If you are skillful, and professional right effort, possible; yes, possible. Of course…

Q. The duration of meditation has nothing to do with it?

Lama. But this individual, I say, individual. The first beginners, people who are beginning, beginning, it's very difficult, walking, completely perfect concentration, and sitting is much easier. But when someone is developed, whatever he do, he walking, he also one pointedness concentration, integrated mind, isn't it? But someone is like, completely disturbing mind, even sitting down is difficult to put mind integrated, what I mean? That is so individual, so personal. So the Buddhism is, really very personal. You can't say, “Everybody should be this way.” It's so individual. Yes, yes, individual. So therefore, we have meditation, by step, by step, by step, and you reach this kind of meditation, you do this kind of meditation. We have very gradual path liberation for the enlightenment. Yes, that's right. Very good, thank you, thank you very much. Some more question?

Q. Lama, positive and negative thoughts, we can control….

Lama. Possible, yes...

Q. Can negative and positive thoughts come from another source outside us? It can come from other people, [Yes] is there some other spiritual entity from whom they may come?

Lama. Yes, very good question. The, the real source, the deep root negative is comes from our own mind. But cooperative cause, cooperative cause is sometimes, environment, environment: surround people, surround material, those kind of does, yes. But of course, sometimes some people has sort of depressed up and down, is also psychological, the astrological, the movement vibration, planet movement make vibration, make they up and down. Simple example, women monthly period up and down. This also is not just the mind itself. It's the way of constructed the body, and the element, it makes up and down. But of course, that's condition, way of they put their body such condition is also comes from their mind. I think, yes. So, but we don't, I don't think so Lord Buddha say, say something outside spirit you, make you sick. I don't think so. Possible, possible, but your spiritual is relating such energy, that makes you sick (finger snap). Possible. Because that is your relating, you understand, relating, yes, that's right yes. Very good, thank you, wonderful.

It's true, sometimes environment make very much effective, effective, environment. Environment is peaceful environment, yes, environment, and way of you living together, people are peaceful, generosity and happy, and automatically you have happy feeling. But way of you relating, people, with angry, aggressive people, the automatically that vibration comes in your mind, and you, you are vibrating also that way. It's very much effective. Yes. So the human mind is just like glass, glass [mirror]. Glass, glass taking reflection and garbage reflection taking, isn't it? [Lama laughs] Fantastic, good reflection they take, without discriminating. So the same thing, if we are unconscious, what we get inside our mind, we take, our mind is completely, reflected by the garbage, and we don't know. We just go still like that [Lama laughs]. So, therefore, therefore, to aware, those things, very important, yes. Very important. Therefore, I saying is, and religion is, if we understand real how to relate with your own mind, how relate with your own living life, if you understand, religion is fantastic. [clap] Is, realization is, realization is there. You don't need so much believe God; you just act exactly as much as possible, you don't worry about, sin or God or Buddha or…you understand? You just act as much possible with understanding. And the result is, today there. You don't worry about super conscious or super universal love. Universal study, love is study, slowly, slowly, coming slowly, slowly, slowly, then bigger, bigger, bigger, bigger. But if you climbing only idea, “Oh fantastic, super knowledge and super power,” you becomes power trip [Lama laughs]. I mean, power, the power existent, but when you putting right action in religion, power is comes from also you. From you, also. Part of you becomes power also, instead of only thinking power is up there; you have power. Your mind is power. Thank you maybe some question? If you don't have question…Yes?

Q. Perception is one of the five, the Buddhists say one of the five aggregates of clinging; we cling to our perception. When we are meditating and we reach a very high stage, we try and grab it, and we lose it. What causes…?

Lama. Shouldn't grasping, [yeah, what, what….] we shouldn't grasp. Lord Buddha says, even, Lord Buddha says, he don't want any doctrines, philosophy, his followers, says, “Don’t grasping, don’t attach.”

Q. How do we get feeling in our head, what is it, how is it made up, senses and other things? Could you explain that?

Lama. About what?

Q. Perception, how do we perceive or what is the….

Lama. Yes, most time, yes, oh, good, good, most time our perception is illusitory; we not perceiving reality. OK? We, we see sense world, oh, good form, good color, taste, these things, we say, “Oh, this good, this bad.” But, really, we didn't see the real true nature of the color, real true nature of taste, we cannot see. That's why most time is our perception is wrong. So the perception is, five sense perception is interpreted, interpreted, giving information to the mind. So mind also following and with ego, and we all, actually, most time is we are hallucinating. Is not seeing. Our judgment is so, I mean, is bad quality, if I say. It's not real understanding reality, even sense, this world, nature.

Q. Does past karma affect our perception?

Lama. Yes, effective yes, perception effective karma, yes. Yeah, is, karma means, and uncontrolled perceiving such view and grasping and mind following that way. All these uncontrolled situations, that is we call karma. Karma is not philosophical something; not like that. What we perceiving everyday life is, we are living in karma, that's all, that's all. Yeah. Thank you, yes?

Q. Can you give me some idea of the relation between the body and mind in reference to foods…

Lama. Yes, very good, yes. And body is not mind, mind is not body, but body and mind has special connection, very linked together, very sensitive. So, when your body is something different effective… example, yeah, young people taking drugs, these things, actually they don't, directly pushing the mind. But mind is relating with the sense organ, nervous system, so the, when the nervous system, drug change nervous system, you understand, nervous system change, then mind hallucinating, because nervous system is not harmony. You understand. This change, and then mind hallucinating. You understand. So therefore, very strong connection between body and mind. So, and yoga tantra, the Tibetan yoga tantra, many times approach into body, nervous system, different channel, strong concentration, and that makes mind different effective, because the special connection link. So, normally, whatever you, for the your body effective, touch and eating, is effective for the mind. Sure. Surely. Yes.

Q. Is fasting good?

Lama. Huh?

Q. Fasting, for your body, is it good? A lot of people say that you should change your body through just your mind.

Lama. Fasting is not really important. But if you have special, special training mind, particular that time also, body fasting is very important. This is experience. Example, all day you eating, drinking, this, this make, you stopping concentration, so, many times we eat only lunch, and morning have tea and afternoon have tea drinking, but not too much eating. It, it makes so simple, so easy, body very comfortable. Yes, yes. But one doesn't have training mind and one fasting is, sort of, he punishing himself. [Lama laughs] Really, yes. That's not wise. Really, it the, special training mind, and certain point of view, and we do this one. But normally we say, “Oh, unnecessary punish yourself, be happy.” [Lama laughs] OK? Be happy, be reasonable, take care body healthy as much possible. If the body too weak, mind useless, then useless human life, isn't it? OK. But special occasion, way you doing is so effective, such higher aim, perhaps good. Thank you so much, yes, thank you.

OK, if you don't have question, thank you, I not keep you; thank you very much, excuse me, my broken language, thank you, thank you very much. Thank you.