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.
Jhampa November 29, 87
Following up on last week's talk about Enlightenment and the mantra for the Buddha Shakyamuni. Shakyamuni in one sense means the Buddha born in India some 2500 years ago, became enlightened, and taught Buddhism for forty years before passing away.
In the form of the visualization that we are doing, although in one sense we do invoke and request the blessings of Buddha Shakyamuni, there are different ways to look at our visualizations and what they mean for us. Last week I spoke that there is a relative level and an ultimate level of truth. On the relative level of truth we have distinctions such as male or female and the various objects which exist whether it's cushions, lamps, chairs, cars, houses, people or whatever. There are all objects of the relative level of truth. On the ultimate level there is only what is termed as the ultimate nature, or final nature, or absolute nature.
When you do the visualization there is an ultimate level and a relative level. The relative level is the realm of distinctions and various categories like saying there is a male Buddha we will be meditating upon. But we should always have the capacity to reflect on the ultimate nature in the sense that in the ultimate nature all things are related, interdependent, and nothing stands independently alone. So in that sense the Enlightened Beings...Like being enlightened doesn't completely take one out of the realm, take those beings out of the realm of being related to us. They are not completely in an other world and we do not have access to them. Nor is it sort of like that they are enlightened and we are not. There is no relationship between that.
It's rather that Enlightened Beings, the Buddhas, either male or female Buddhas, and ourselves are all one in the ultimate nature. And it's important that we appreciate what is termed as the single taste of the ultimate. Whether you are here in this part of the world, or on the moon, or in another galaxy, that nature remains the same. It's pervasive. And that nature is the pure nature. It's termed as the pure nature of reality in the sense that it doesn't fluctuate in any way. Wherever you go in the universe, that nature will be constant. In that light, when you relate that directly to yourself, to the ultimate nature of your being, it is clear light and bliss, the clear light nature of your mind. And that clear light nature and the clear light nature of a fully Enlightened Being's mind are completely equal. There is no difference what so ever.
So for a fully Enlightened Being, it means that they are enlightened, that they have that ultimate state and are conscious in that ultimate state. Whereas for us, we have that ultimate state of mind, the clear light nature of our mind, but we are not conscious of it. So that's the only distinction between a Fully enlightened being and ourself.
Whether or not we can consciously access our ultimate nature, the clear light nature of our mind, that clear light nature is interdependent with the whole matrix of the universe. And so we shouldn't look at ourselves as being independent or isolated or in any way different from the world around us. We are part of the world around us. Now we have our own aspects which of course is on a relative level. But if we enter into the ultimate level in a conscious sense, that ultimate level is experienced as what is termed as Clear light, or Clear Light and Bliss, or Clear Light and Voidness.
We spoke on that last week. So to move into a second aspect of relating to the visualization of a fully enlightened being in the space before us. Now, when you do the visualization you should always have it that it relates to yourself in the sense of when you meditate on a fully enlightened being. We are meditating on the Buddha Shakyamuni. In one sense you can say you are taking refuge in the state of full enlightenment. Taking refuge in the state of full enlightenment means in the relative sense that a fully enlightened being is a person that is worthy of respect. Worthy of veneration. Worthy of our admiration. Because and whether it's a man or a woman, that being has full qualities, full development of all the positive qualities, and is free of all negative aspects. They don't have problems or to use common words, they don't have hang-ups. They don't have anything which causes their mind to hesitate in it's spontaneous relationship with the world around them. So their relationships are positive in the sense of seeing the potential, the positive potential of any situation where something can go into a positive evolution.
When you relate to the visualization, you relate to it as an object worthy of respect and admiration. And what's termed as refuge is really only nothing more that it is an object that's worthy of reliance upon. But there is nothing that they can really do for us other than show the way. It's said that enlightened beings are the guides. That their teachings are the actual practice and that the people who practice those teachings are the spiritual community. So we always relate to the fully enlightened beings as not being some sort of entity that can come into our life and go zap and completely transform us. It's not that way at all. Although we can receive blessings and be inspired in very transforming ways, the enlightened beings can't do anything for us. We have to in the final sense work for our own evolution, our own salvation.
So when you look at Enlightened Beings on a relative sense, you are looking at that which is inspiring, at that which gives confidence, at that which we feel is a symbol of the expression of perfect transformation into enlightenment. So on the ultimate side, that the enlightened beings mean, it means is that enlightened being is a symbol of our own enlightenment potential. And so in reflecting on the ultimate level you reflect that your own enlightenment will be exactly equal to that being which you visualize and rely upon. And in thinking about that then, that means there is a direct relationship between yourself and that visualization. It's not like that deity is something which is unrelated, or something up there and we are down here. There is a very direct relationship. "I also will become enlightened as that being has become enlightened. And I also will have full ultimate expression of positive potential energy."
So when you do the visualization, do always relate to it as what is termed as the relative refuge object in the sense of an object that is worthy of admiration and respect. A worthy object to be inspired by. On the ultimate level, relate to it in the sense that it is the symbol of my own enlightenment and what my own enlightenment will be like.
One final note I'd like to touch on this evening. The Enlightened Beings have spontaneous positive energy. Like they are energy spontaneously. It's relationship to us brings about spontaneous reflection, spontaneous relationship. You have to sort of think about it and reflect about it in the sense that if the ultimate nature of mind is clear light and voidness, or clear light and bliss, and thats considered so to speak, neutral. Because if your mind was, it's innate quality was good, that means how could you ever be bad? How could you ever become bad? So theres a fault in that. That if you say your ultimate nature is ultimately good, then you will have the problem of being able to then give the details of why then you became bad and how you are going back to being good! And vise versa. If your ultimate nature isn't good, it's in someway bad, then how could you ever become good or become enlightened? Both of these are considered. If you look at the ultimate nature of your mind and think of it as being ultimately good or ultimately bad you will have problems. And the problems will be in being able to answer questions. If you say "My ultimate nature is good." then they'll say "Then how on earth can you do bad things?" Because if the ultimate nature, the very core of your being is goodness, how is it that you can make mistakes? It doesn't follow through. It's illogical. And then of course, theres how we evolve into ignorance.
The Buddhist perspective of the ultimate nature of your mind is that it is neutral in the sense that it can be classified as neither good nor bad. But when your ultimate nature becomes enlarged into a personality, because the ultimate nature is very subtle, it's a subtle nature of your being, it's nothing which you can perceive in a manifest way. It's a very subtle nature. It's realized in deep meditation. When you manifest your personality then, why work for enlightenment then? Why work toward being positive? Why be a nicer person? Why try to do virtuous actions if the ultimate nature of your being is neutral? I mean, it should be that you could go straight to the nature of your mind and that is it. It's finished. You don't have to worry about it. Well, that's correct and true. If you did have the meditative power you could realize the ultimate nature of your mind and, snap, finished, you're liberated as it's termed. But what you've not completed to do is you've not cleaned up the peripheral of your being in the sense of the personality in the way your personality manifests itself. You might be able to maintain concentration, your meditative absorption on to the clear light nature, but, so to speak, you still have the dross about it. It's still dirty about it. Still hazy around it. it's not a pure clean expression.
In realizing what is termed full enlightenment, you always realize that the ultimate nature of your being is pure. It's the nature of clear light and bliss. But you also realize because that is related with the world and the universe at large, it's inappropriate to not try to align your personality in harmony with that. Basically what it means is if we look at it in a very general sense, what is the definition of negativity? What's the definition of being positive or virtuous?
The definition of being negative is that the nature of being is self centered, concerned of it's self and therefore creates various negative actions in the sense of wanting to attain more wealth for itself, to attach many objects to itself, then to protect these objects with aggressiveness and fear and that whole thing. Basically negativity is a state of consciousness where there is a strong sense of wanting to defend oneself, feeling independent and isolated, like, "I'm over here and all you are out there and one of you might want to steal from me, so I'm very uptight. I have a strong sense of polarity." Polarity is based on ignorance and feeling that we are independent, that theres no relationship between us.
And that the relationships are only, "I'm going to get some money out of you, or some wealth, or some support, or else you are going to take away some support, wealth, comfort or whatever." That's the mind which is held in negativity. In that sense it isolates itself and perpetuates negativity around it. It feels isolated and feels unrelated and therefore is fearful. So what I'm trying to say in the general sense, is negativity, that having negative perspective in our personality means that although our innate nature is pure our actions are not in harmony in the sense that we are always feeling isolated and singular versus being part of the world around us.
For those of you that have taken enough teachings, you will understand what I've talked extensively about if you think of your body. Your body is an intrical part of this world system in the sense that you need the heat, the moisture, the air, the food of this world, so you are intrically mixed right down to the very atoms and molecules of your being. You are part of this world. You are not isolated from it. You are not separated from it.
A negative perspective in the most simple terms is that we feel isolated and very singular and because of that, we have things we are attached to and things we are afraid of. And then we create ignorance.
In contrast to that, why we practice virtuous actions, why we try to be a good person in the world around is, is because if you look at the nature of love which is the basic quality of...if you feel good you have a sense of love in your heart. You feel warm towards other people.....is that mind is generally speaking, expansive. Now it can have ignorance in it because we are very selfish and we want to love people to have people love us, but I'm talking of a person who realizes the nature of their being. The nature of their being is that they are interrelated with the world around them. They don't have that basic ignorance that they feel independent, rather they feel part of the world.
Secondly, they practice love and compassion. They are involved with being generous and kind. So you can see all those energies are going outwards. They are part of the world. They work in the world and work in the world in what you might term open ended ways. I mean. if you look at the negative person, they want everything back for themselves. "I want money. I want wealth. I want comfort. I want someone to love me. I want these things." Whereas the person who develops positive qualities, they are generous, they are kind, they are patient, they try to be helpful. They try to develop their intelligence in the sense of knowing how to work well with other people. Mother Theresa is a good example. Her selfless service for God and Jesus Christ, and that is her philosophy. If you look at her in the nature of her being, her mind, her whole being is immersed in the giving and caring for others. It's very expansive. It's not self centered. It's not isolating, rather, it's emersion, sort of completely giving one's self over to the world around you.
So when you think of the enlightened being in the space before you, when you do your visualization, o.k. Why you should have devotion, why you should have faith and why you'd like to have admiration and why do you want to have a collection of positive qualities? I mean, although the innate nature of your being is pure and neutral, doesn't need anything, you don't need to do anything but realize it.
That doesn't clean up all the dross and all the dirt around your personality which is the grosser manifestation. When you are doing your meditations what you're basically doing and when you are involved in in Mahayana Buddhism which is the greater vehicle buddhism, then your intention is one, to realize your own innate nature, and two, it is also to clean up the grosser manifestations of our personality. Those are cleaned up by being positive, by being generous, by being kind and considerate, by doing good actions, and by being helpful in the world around you. In one sense, I'm delegating that virtue is really a relative affair and in the ultimate nature you don't need to worry about it. That virtue is not the main thing, that if you realize the nature of the mind, your free, but that is not a finished practice. A finished practice is one were the whole nature of your being is transformed. That is what the fully Enlightened Buddha in the space before you is.
So lets say you have this picture of Buddha Shakyamuni. This is what is termed the being who is fully enlightened. That being although it's just a picture, when you do the visualization you invoke a being who has that innate nature of purity which is the ultimate nature of it's being. But all the personality around it is completely imbued with spontaneous positive response. This means if you have any interaction with enlightened beings your interaction from them to you is always spontaneously positive because they have spent the time transforming themselves with all the positive qualities. All the qualities of kindness, compassion, patience, trying to be helpful, the development of wisdom, and just all of the things that bring goodness in the world.
In the coming classes over the next few weeks I'm actually going to talk about what is called the six perfections. In giving those teachings, they are in the context of why would you like to practice them? Because, so to speak, that is a practice which is fully encompassing. It's not leaving part of your personality sort of aside. You are actually trying to encompass a total practice, you are not having a partial practice. It's a spiritual practice, o.k.?
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