Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
If you feel any hesitation at all in the constant pursuit of ordinary goals, it is simply about how best to achieve them — should you continue whatever you are currently doing, or turn your efforts in some new and more profitable direction? You end up engaging in meaningless activities without end, frittering away what is left of your precious life. In the same way, conflict arises much more easily in such circumstances. Hatred is often engendered by arguments, feuds and distorted beliefs that can be perpetuated through a family or district for generations. In truth, even if you live to be seventy or more, you can never hope to overcome all your adversaries and totally gratify your close ones.
Protecting ourselves from pain — our own and that of others — has never worked. Everybody wants to be free from their suffering, but the majority of us go about it in ways that only make things worse. Shielding ourselves from the vulnerability of all living beings — which includes our own vulnerability — cuts us off from the full experience of life. Our world shrinks. When our main goals are to gain comfort and avoid discomfort, we begin to feel disconnected from, and even threatened by, others. We enclose ourselves in a mesh of fear. And when many people and countries engage in this kind of approach, the result is a messy global situation with lots of pain and conflict.
A common metaphor for the entire Buddhist path is swimming against the stream. This refers to the reverse aspect of all forms of mind training. To investigate consensus-reality reverses social norms. In a noisy and materialistic society, to sit down and remain still and quiet is a reverse activity. To devote even one hour a day to becoming nobody when we could be in the world becoming somebody reverses socially rewarding goals. To aspire that all sentient beings have happiness and be free from suffering runs counter to self-centered preoccupations. When we take a wide look at reverse, we can appreciate that the meaning runs much deeper than labeling a category of discrete exercises. It can become a foundational principle for guiding daily-life situations. It can be used to cut through mindless behavioral loops, and for using disruption to wake us up from our sleepwalking habits.
The moment we say, “I’ve been born,” someone can reply, “Yes, and you are going to die. The sign of your approaching death has already appeared.” We may think that we can put our feet up, relax for a while, and take it easy, but that’s not how it is. Instead, we need to realize, “I need to practice the instructions that will help me at the time of death. I don’t have much time. I need to be diligent about this.” We absolutely need to rouse our diligence.
At some point, if you’re fortunate, you’ll hit a wall of truth and wonder what you’ve been doing with your life. At that point you’ll feel highly motivated to find out what frees you and helps you to be kinder and more loving, less affliction driven and confused.
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
Imagine a beautiful casket so finely crafted that once it is shut, the seam between the lid and the base is entirely invisible. It appears to be a single, exquisitely worked piece of wood, not a casket at all, and nothing about it suggests any possible opening. This casket is exactly like samsaric life. Day after day, year after year, lifetime after lifetime, samsara has been so intricately contrived by the ego, the master craftsman, that the notion it can be broken open never suggests itself. If we stopped for a moment and took a long, hard look at our version of the world, we might detect a few tiny cracks here and there, but for the most part the thought doesn’t enter our heads.
If, by some chance, a tiny crack were to be discovered and someone managed to open the casket just a little, the entire system that is samsara would be disrupted. Nothing would ever be the same again, and the one who achieved this monumental feat would have shuffled one step closer to enlightenment. Of course, you would still be stuck with a partially open casket, but its workings would no longer seem so utterly mysterious.
A multitude of inexpressible things can open the casket anytime, anywhere, triggered by the most ridiculous situations — if you have merit, devotion, and pure perception. This opening is usually initiated by the guru — by a remark, a gesture, or perhaps a note.
Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö
Let your body settle, without moving about or fidgeting.
Let your speech settle, following the flow of the breath.
Let your mind settle, without pursuing thoughts or ideas.
Spaciously, from deep within, settle and relax in natural ease.
Wherever we are, whatever we do, all we need to do is recognize our thoughts, feelings and perceptions as something natural. Neither rejecting nor accepting, we simply acknowledge the experience and let it pass. If we keep this up, we’ll eventually find ourselves becoming able to manage situations we once found painful, scary, or sad. We’ll discover a sense of confidence that isn’t rooted in arrogance or pride. We’ll realize that we’re always sheltered, always safe, and always home.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
If sometimes we practice with diligence and at other times just take it easy, we will not be able to develop confidence in our meditation on the view. What must we do to develop this confidence? We must understand that day and night, throughout the entire dimension of our lives, there is no difference between the meditation experience and the postmeditation experience.
The basic teaching of Buddhism is the teaching of transiency, or change. That everything changes is the basic truth for each existence. No one can deny this truth, and all the teaching of Buddhism is condensed within it. This is the teaching for all of us. Wherever we go this teaching is true. This teaching is also understood as the teaching of selflessness. Because each existence is in constant change, there is no abiding self. In fact, the self-nature of each existence is nothing but change itself, the self-nature of all existence. There is no special, separate self-nature for each existence. This is also called the teaching of Nirvana. When we realize the everlasting truth of “everything changes” and find our composure in it, we find ourselves in Nirvana.
Glimpses of pristine awareness can be transformative, but it takes work to stabilize the view. This is why we say, “Short moments, many times”.
One’s own awareness, fresh and uncontrived,
Is the primordially present ultimate Lama
From whom you have not been separated for even an instant.
This meeting with the original abiding nature — how amazing!
Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye
If contentment does not arise within your mind
Even if you have everything you could ever want, you’ll be like a beggar.
Those who are content and rid of clinging
Are always rich even without possessions.
Our life is like a vast net connecting us to all other lives on this planet, and each part of this net is linked to all of the rest. The essence of our life is not limited within the confines of our bodies but rather is distributed across all the people and things that we are connected to. To think about our life in a way that treats it as our individual property is too limited and too small, and leads us to miss seeing its full value.
Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche
Not thinking of things in a dualistic fashion means seeing them as existing in relationships, not as existing independently. This means not seeing things in terms of subject and object, “perceiver” and “perceived” (Tib. dzin yul; Skt. grahaya and grahayaka).
When we see things dualistically, we think that there is a perceiver here, as a subject, and a perceived object out there, something that is external to the perceiver, something that is “other.” According to Buddhism, the perceiver and the perceived are dependent phenomena, as is everything else.
So if everything is a dependent phenomenon, everything is empty of inherent existence. This is what emptiness means. From that, we are able to eschew our fixation on things as having some kind of self-sufficient existence. This, in itself, according to Buddhism, can free or liberate us from the distorted ways of thinking we entangle ourselves in.
Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche
The worst obstacle for a practitioner is when crowds of followers begin to gather and say,
“You are so wonderful, you’re such a great practitioner, you are very special. Please give us teachings. Please guide us.”
Starting to have a great following causes the most difficult kind of obstacle because, unless one is the foremost type of practitioner, one will think,
“Hey, maybe I am special. Maybe there is something to what they say.”
Only the foremost type of practitioner will not be carried away by such positive conditions.
Like a wild elephant, the untamed mind can inflict enormous damage on ourselves and those around us. In addition to oscillating between an attention deficit (when we’re passive) and hyperactivity (when we’re active), the normal, untrained mind compulsively disgorges a toxic stream of wandering thoughts, then latches on to them obsessively, carried away by one story after another. Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorders and obsessivecompulsive disorders are not confined to those who are diagnosed as mentally ill; the normal mind is prone to such imbalances, and that’s why normal people experience so much mental distress! Such disturbances are symptoms of an unbalanced mind.
It is the naturally originating pristine cognition, uncreated by anyone – how amazing!
This radiant awareness has never been born and will never die – how amazing!
3rd Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche
How things appear is my being;
how things arise is my reality;
there is no phenomenon that is not me
in the whole universe.
Someone once asked me, “What would it feel like to have burned up all those seeds, to be a person who no longer has any aggression?” The person who asked this was thinking that such a person might be pretty boring. No juice, no passion. I answered that I really wouldn’t know from personal experience, but I imagine that such a person would be great company. If you dissolved your aggression, it would mean that other people wouldn’t have to walk on eggshells around you, worried that something they might say would offend you. You’d be an accessible, genuine person. The awakened people that I’ve known are all very playful, curious, and unthreatened by things. They go into situations with their eyes and their hearts wide open. They have a real appetite for life instead of an appetite for aggression. They are, it seems, not afraid to be insecure.