Annual India Tours
These lectures were transcribed by T Vd Broek. Heartfelt
gratitude is offered for all the hours of work spent on this Dharma activity.
These talks are offered free of charge. They have been slightly edited.
Nanaimo Feb 18 1992
The second paragraph of the Great Seal of Voidness is what we will be dealing with. Read it at your own time, I will be just supplying commentary.
The objective of our meditation is a fulfilled or integrated life. It is essential that we all live and have experience, and the objective of the meditation is not that we have meditation and then we have our life. It is rather the taking of life and the reality of what we have to deal with in life and integrating it. So our mind becomes integrated, comes together. Within ourselves in a way that does not have a lot of gaps. And from that position when we move to the outside world, we have some harmony with the world. That things are smooth, and although the world on its side has a lot of ups and downs and hassles, from our side that we have taken control of that and are saying, how things happen out there are out of control. But how I experience them can be controlled. It is in our hand how we set ourselves up to experience life.
So the objective of the meditations is not to create a world which is different or to create a fantasy realm where something is away from the experience of reality when you open your eyes. The teachings of mahamudra are just that. It is the great symbol is the all encompassing vision or experience of the world. It is said that one has one's view of the world when one looks out through one's eyeballs, one's mind or attitude has a view. But then there is the experience which is within that or the basis of that. So we want to put those together so they are in harmony with each other.
That is why we meditate. There is no other secret thing in meditation. There are higher states of realization which come from meditation, but the basic bottom line is the process in which reality is as it is around us. And trying to put a better handle on it so we have a better relationship with the world around us. You wouldn't want to say you control the world around you, but you have a better relationship because you control your side.
In the teachings the first part is to make praise to mahamudra which is to the point of unification, the supreme vision on how things should be. In the second paragraph it talks about on the basis of it's path, if one wants to do it, particularly if one wants to practice a path which is universal or open ended which is the mahayana, then one has to take refuge and develop bodhicitta with a good heart.
So to reinterpret those, taking refuge is essentially this. If you look around, and you have to think of how refuge functions. This is trying to be really practical with yourselves. Because I can talk about the Buddha, the teachings and the spiritual community and make it really wonderful, and then it is like a nice religion, isn't it? But the problem is is that if you put a lot of emphasis into that, becoming a devotee, in those regards, really can't guarantee that anything beneficial will come about. Yes, someone might become pious and a few other things, but that is no guarantee that it will be helpful. In fact, when one puts a lot of emphasis to those externals, the possibility of politics taking over becomes a possibility.
It is more important to look for the inner experience. And when you get good inner experience, you will automatically support the outer things, whether it is the Buddha, the statue of the Buddha or the temple, the teachings or the spiritual community. When you have the right head space within yourself then you are always a source of good energy. That is because it is internalized and doesn't rely on the outside. So it is important to put emphasis towards that. We are a regular bunch of people, and so we get bounced around by the experiences we have in the world around us. But if we understand always that it is within ourselves that we should try to find the basis of our practice, them we have a lot less hassle and cause of problems.
Even many religions have problems so you can see that you want to have a little space so that we can have our frame of reference or position. And if that is in place, s least if nothing else, we are productive or in harmony in the world. It is not that we can be responsible for what the world is doing, but we can certainly be responsible for ourselves.
Refuge is really a mind set that is saying, when I come into this situation, where do I look for the solution. because if you look for solutions in the outside world, as in not liking a situation and trying to force it your way by fighting, and sometimes it works, sometimes not. Of course if the force outside you is stronger, it will put you down. You can then say hey, I relied on that type of activity, is it reliable? When your mind looks that way, then you can say the mind is looking for refuge. It is looking for the right place. There is a nice example given. When there is a bad storm one looks for protection. If you go under a tree there is some protection until the rain starts to come through. Or if you look for a bus stand, it might be alright but there is only so much protection. Like that, when there is turbulence around, you look for the place to go that can give you the best protection. If you are lucky or smart, you know where to go to protect yourself from the elements.
Same thing with our own mind. When we meet with circumstances and see the emotional rain storm, at that point we have the capacity to question where we are going to put ourselves. Where are we gong to come from in regard to this relationship that is going to be suitable, protective of me, supportive of me?
That idea is the basis of refuge which is the mind which is looking for the right place to be. I think that is all that needs to be said. I could say that to take refuge in the Buddha. The Buddha is fully enlightened. The Buddha whether a man or a woman has the man who has worked out things, come to the right understandings and like that they said this is the way things are. And them with meditation they can go in and from an enlightened point of view, there is full experience of that. So it is not just an intellectual head space, it is a fully experiential thing. So it is like the real nature of reality is this sort of way is the understanding. And then you go inside with your meditation and actually experience that. So the fully enlightened beings are those beings which have that experience completely. They do not have it half way. but a hundred percent all the time. So that is what enlightenment means.
The teachings are what the Buddhas teach. That is how to get to that similar head space or attainment. And finally the spiritual community are those doing the same thing. They are practicing their path and therefore are supportive of the path.
For yourselves as individuals, like we are talking about mahamudra which is the fully integrated attitude, fully enlightened attitude, to go to that, if you want it, then it has to be that you start looking at your own mind and looking at the positions you assume regarding, or how you set up your attitude, regarding the various things you get involved with. In doing that, then it is up to you to be intelligent and question your attitude and position and find how effective or beneficial it is going to be. That is an individual thing! You have to work on it on your own. Because we all have different personalities and with each of our personalities we will move more to a particular type of attitude position.
One has to question one's personality. Where do I go? What does my personality do? Is this what I want with myself? If one thinks of other personalities, you can certainly think of what they could do, and it is harder to look at oneself! Yet we have to look at how our own personality functions. And not reject it. Because you can't. You are what you are in a way! Your not totally that, but you have predominance to switch in to this certain position or attitude. So you have to question, I would like to be more integrated, together and happy. So where am I coming from when I am involved in various situations. That process of questioning is the searching for refuge. And the basis is the final nature of mind. Like what is the nature of your life energy. That is sort of the ultimate question. So that will be the basis, that is what one should work towards, because that will then be the expression of reality for yourselves as individuals. And it is something for yourself to search for and find. And that is looked for or sought after with meditation. But, the point is to put oneself into that head space, the first space of refuge.
The second phase we said was good heart. Simplistically said, the Dalai Lama says it wonderfully. He just says, if you have someone who is a little selfish, they don't offer you cups of coffee when you go and visit them. You go to a person's house and sit there for half an hour and they don't offer you anything. Their mind is a little more self contained. They are thinking of their own self, their own needs, like that. That person, who will not offer to give you a car ride, they don't offer to help you, they just think of their own thing, that person. Then the Dalai Lama says think of someone who is kind. Helpful. Go go there and they offer you food and drink! Take those two people, and generally speaking, who would you be more comfortable to be with? It is a simple question?
The point is, bodhicitta is a good heart. It is having good intentions. The easiest way to approach it is, if we put ourselves towards that kind of attitude, the way to recognize that attitude is to recognize how we ourselves respond to nice people. That we respond to a nice person by liking them. It is a good way to validate why we ourselves should be nicer. That is the door to being a very altruistic person. We could become like Mother Theresa. I couldn't give up my life and walk in the streets of Calcutta! I couldn't handle that! But I know if start off with a kind heart, maybe one lifetime I might do that, depends how I develop myself. The point is we shouldn't look at our spirituality as sort of like the saints and say we could never do that. If we did that we would stop ourselves. But if we do look at the benefits of being a good person then we have opened the door and maybe it is a long way or maybe a short way to becoming a Mother Theresa. But the point is, at least we have opened the door. And that is the most important thing for ourselves as individuals. How developed or undeveloped we are is not the question. It is just to be able to open the door!
These teachings are aimed at the integrated enlightened attitude in the sense that you are trying to develop a coherent attitude and find the point where it can come from. Sort of a real place within yourself so that they harmonize. Then you have a point of being enlightened in a real way so that in every experience you have is a possibility of an enlightened experience.
The door to that is questioning where I am coming from when I enter into situations relationships which is seeking refuge or the best position. Secondly integrate that with a kind heart which is the doorway to bodhicitta.
Copyright 1994 Daka's Buddhist Consulting
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