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The Reality Behind Appearances

Transcript of the teaching video:

1. MOTIVATION

Please cultivate the correct motivation for this session, aspiring to achieve Enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings.

The virtues we cultivate in our minds depend greatly on our motivation.

We will revisit the same theme discussed this morning: the generation of the mind of Enlightenment or the wish to achieve Buddhahood; to generate happiness on a temporary level and also happiness on an ultimate level and to use techniques to achieve those two aims from the viewpoint of reality as well as aspects of behaviour. One should act in a particular way and have a particular view in order to benefit oneself and others.

The methods to achieve those aims of temporary and ultimate happiness include generating more kindness and the correct view. Concerning this point we have the foundation of phenomena, such as the Two Truths and the paths denoting method and wisdom, leading to the attainment of the enlightened forms of a Buddha. We discuss the Two Truths, the conventional truth and the ultimate truth, all of which must be understood to progress on the path.

There are a few aspects to consider: the basis of the Two Truths, the components of methods and wisdom and the realization of the forms of a Buddha. We begin with the basis, likened to the foundation of a house. We commence with the basis of the Two Truths to comprehend both conventional reality and ultimate reality.

2. THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS

In order to achieve Buddhahood we also have to contemplate the Four Noble Truths. That was the first teaching of the Buddha. When the Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths he said we should know suffering, abandon the cause of suffering, meditate on the path and manifest the cessation. By looking at those aspects in the Four Noble Truths we can see there are conventional realities and ultimate realities. The path refers to the meditation on the ultimate truth and the cessation refers to an aspect of the ultimate truth. The first two truths (of the Four Noble Truths) are classified into the conventional realities of suffering and the causes of suffering. To achieve this precious state of cessation the cessation of afflictions leads to the cessation of suffering. There is a possibility for our mind to accomplish that. It is a very profound and precious aspect to have a mind that is free of afflictions, to have this truth of cessation in our continuum of consciousness.

How do we accomplish that truth of cessation? By following the true path. The true path is the cause for the true cessation to come about because it is cause and effect related. By doing so, we have the right method to eliminate suffering and the cause of suffering. With the true path we have to understand the view of ultimate reality or Emptiness. We understand the view of Emptiness by the power of the conventional truth of dependent origination. In a similar way, the Buddha followed these instructions, generated Bodhicitta, contemplated Emptiness, accomplished the truth of cessation and the true path, eventually achieving Enlightenment. He then taught what we know as the three turnings of the wheel of the Dharma: the Four Noble Truths, the view of Emptiness and the turning of the view of the clear mind. The three turnings relate to the common part of the Sutra and the uncommon part of the Vajrayana or Tantra. This also relates to the Buddha potential or tathagatagarbha, the potential of our mind to go all the way up to Enlightenment. We look at these teachings and see that we are extremely fortunate, see that these teachings are very precious, so precious that we can eliminate suffering completely. This is one very fortunate situation we have. By depending on these teachings, we can achieve Liberation and even Buddhahood. We should have a feeling of rejoicing in these incredibly fortunate situations regarding having met these precious teachings. We should not only rejoice but we should also have strong faith in these teachings and then try to proceed like the Buddha on the path to Liberation and Enlightenment.

3. THE TWO TRUTHS

We need to study and understand the Two Truths. We have to understand the conventional truth and the ultimate truth. By understanding those truths, we can comprehend reality. It is a very profound aspect of Buddhist teaching. Our minds, for example, are an aspect of conventional truth. We observe the different states of mind, concepts and afflictions coming and going. That is an aspect of conventional truth. Our mind also has an aspect of ultimate truth. When we understand dependent origination, we also understand the ultimate truth of Emptiness of our mind. This understanding can be achieved by comprehending the view of dependent origination. There are different levels; for instance, we have the cause and effect relationships, dependence on paths, a collection of paths and things being merely imputed by the mind. So, when we understand dependent origination, we comprehend Emptiness. Understanding Emptiness deepens our understanding of conventional truth in these three levels of dependent origination that are ultimately more profound. In our actions of body, speech and mind, in terms of behaviour and attitudes, we have to focus on what we should abandon and what we should accomplish. We use wisdom to understand those aspects. Similarly, we strive to increase our wisdom to understand Emptiness and the ultimate truth of reality. This could be understood by the power of the basis of the Two Truths, the path of method and wisdom and the result, or the ultimate accomplishments of the bodies of a Buddha, or accomplishing the unknown mind of the Buddha and the form body of the Buddha for the benefit of sentient beings. To achieve Buddhahood, we, as sentient beings, have to observe the law of karma, cause and effect. By doing so, we endeavour to abandon negative deeds and accomplish virtues. We aim to generate the mind of Bodhicitta, mixed with the view of reality or the wisdom of Emptiness. Accomplishing these aspects enables us to unite the view and our behaviour. By progressing in this manner, we will accumulate the right amount of merit and wisdom and achieve the state of the Buddha, the essence of the Buddha's mind.

Wisdom is paramount in our views and behaviour, as discussed previously. This wisdom applies to both believers and non-believers. Everyone seeks happiness and wishes to avoid suffering. This truth holds for believers and non-believers alike. We all desire happiness and peace of mind. This is a fundamental aspect we should concentrate on.

4. PRECIOUS HUMAN REBIRTH

When we delve deeper into the spiritual realm we should consider the fortunate situation we are in, having obtained a precious human rebirth with the freedoms and endowments (the eight freedoms and ten endowments). It is essential to use wisdom to analyse the eighteen aspects of having freedom and endowments. Recognizing that we possess all these conditions grants us the appropriate circumstances to progress. Not every person, not every human being is blessed with a precious rebirth, as we are aware.

It is very important to see that right now we have the freedoms and endowments. Not only seeing that we have the freedoms and endowments, but also contemplating that it is extremely difficult to obtain and has great meaning. If you have the fortunate situation of a precious human rebirth but you are just confused about things and do not really put things into practice, then there is no great meaning to this precious human rebirth. We have to take the essence, so to say, to accomplish this great meaning of the precious human rebirth we have at the moment. We have to take the ultimate essence out of it. Then we can refer to Bodhicitta and Emptiness. We should focus on those two aspects. We focus on those aspects as we try to see all sentient beings as very precious and also see that we have obtained this incredibly fortunate situation of precious rebirth, which is so difficult to find and has great meaning.

You can find these aspects also in the Lamrim literature that explains them in great detail. There are eighteen freedoms and endowments, which is an important aspect to contemplate. We should not be very short-sighted. We should have a vast vision and really make use of this precious human rebirth with great meaning. This vast vision should then focus upon Liberation and Enlightenment. That's the vast vision we should have in order to make this precious human rebirth meaningful and to accomplish the great meaning of it. We do that by generating Bodhicitta and understanding and contemplating Emptiness with the right understanding of Emptiness. If you follow that path, then our precious rebirth becomes extremely fortunate because you take the essence and the great meaning out of it. This precious rebirth we have obtained right now is not going to last forever, as we know. It's in the nature of impermanence.

Another aspect we should contemplate is the law of cause and effect – karma. Right now, experiencing as we do the adventitious aspects of suffering, having obtained a precious human rebirth, we have the right causes for happiness and the elimination of suffering. Having obtained the right causes and conditions of this extremely precious human rebirth, we also know that even if you have obtained one hundred years at the time of birth, then we know now at the moment there's not much left. So, we have to contemplate impermanence in order to motivate ourselves and try to take the essence out of this incredibly precious situation we have at the moment.

So, it's very important to recognize with wisdom this precious rebirth and also the importance of it. For example, when we analyse, at the moment we can only see human beings and the animal realm. We can then see that in many aspects of those realms, for the majority, it is extremely difficult to develop the mind. But we are extremely fortunate, very fortunate to have met the Buddhist teachings, to have met a fully qualified teacher or teachers.

On top of that, not just having met the teachings but also having met the teachings of the Sutra and the precious secret Vajrayana teachings as well. The precious Vajrayana teachings can help you accomplish Enlightenment in one lifetime of this degenerated time. That's an extremely fortunate situation we are in. Looking at this fortunate situation, we should take the essence out of it and not waste it. For that purpose, we have to contemplate impermanence and death on a regular basis. Although we might think, "Oh, I'm not going to die tonight, I'm not going to die tomorrow," there's no certainty. We know that death is definite and that the time of death is extremely uncertain because there are so many conditions that can cause death rather than sustain life. Regarding this aspect of impermanence, we have to contemplate that it (death) can happen at any moment. When we die, we go to the next life.

Although we might feel comfortable being in this body at the moment, our mind is in this body at the moment and we try to accomplish certain types of happiness and avoid certain types of suffering. However, we have to think in a bigger picture because when we leave this body behind the mind will go to the next life. Our future life depends on the imprints or development of our minds. We have to make sure that we create the right karma or the right imprints in our minds to safeguard our future lifetimes in a positive way. We have to leave the body behind, but the mind continues. That brings us to the importance of generating faith in the law of cause and effect, or karma.

By understanding that the mind carries on, we have to create the right causes and conditions for future lifetimes. The more you contemplate those aspects, you will generate faith in karma. Combined with looking at the lower realms and the suffering of the lower realms, we should have a wish not to be born there and an intention to again obtain a precious human rebirth. On top of that, we should look towards all mother-sentient beings and focus on using wisdom to benefit them. If we do so, through all our activities of body, speech and mind, we will be able to create or accumulate a certain amount of merit or good deeds for the benefit of beings. Then we will have very fortunate and precious imprints in our minds that will create goodness in future lifetimes.

If you don't follow that aspect and just follow the mind of afflictions such as aversion, attachment, jealousy, pride or ignorance, then by the habituation of these you create imprints in your mind for future aspects of suffering. So, for us, it's important to create the right imprints or aspects that can ripen in future lifetimes. These imprints, positive or negative, sometimes ripen in this life and sometimes in future lifetimes.

As we know in Buddhism, we don't really believe in a creator as such. Karma, or the law of cause and effect, is our future. We have the future in our hands and we are responsible for our own future. Each day we should generate kindness and an attitude of being honest, good and nice. If you do that, even from a worldly perspective, you will have many friends and other people will respect you. These qualities of kindness, honesty, patience and wisdom benefit yourself and others. We should focus on developing our mind in that direction, because when we die the mind continues.

5. THE BENEFITS OF LIBERATION

For those who have a connection with Vajrayana, there are sophisticated systems of the clear light mind that dawns at the time of death, which can be used to progress on the path to Enlightenment. As we know, when the clouds of afflictions are not present or when one is beyond the clouds, a clear sky with a bright sun emerges. This analogy is very similar to our minds, where the stains of afflictions are not an integral part of the mind and there is clarity like the sun pervading the sky. The clouds can be viewed as adventitious or temporary obscurations and imprints; beyond them lies the blue sky with the brightness of the sun. It is crucial to focus on these points because if we waste our human life and only generate negative karma, we will experience the ripening effects of suffering in the future. Contemplating how the cycle of existence revolves within the six realms of samsara, we should cultivate our minds and understand how to progress to prevent ourselves from falling into lower states of rebirth. This kind of fear is not unconstructive, but a fear of the suffering of lower rebirths mingled with wisdom. This is a very constructive way to understand that there are methods to prevent future suffering. Having known there are ways to stop the suffering, we should then shift our focus to others and cultivate compassion for them. This becomes the cause for the development of Bodhicitta. By combining Bodhicitta with wisdom that realizes Emptiness, we can swiftly progress on the path to Enlightenment. It's crucial to understand this aspect correctly if we aim to follow the Buddhist teachings effectively.

6. THE IMPORTANCE OF A LAMA

We should concentrate on these points and recognize the benefits of Nirvana or achieving Liberation. To reach that state, based on understanding these benefits, we should also delve into the various qualities and possibilities of attaining Liberation. Through sound reasoning we should cultivate a mind oriented towards achieving Liberation. It's not merely a matter of reading a newspaper; it depends on specific causes and conditions to direct our minds in a particular direction.

One of the causes and conditions is, of course, the virtuous friend or teacher. Initially, we should examine the teacher or Lama very well. The different qualifications are mentioned in various texts. The minimum aspects include Bodhicitta and an understanding or realization of Emptiness because Emptiness helps us to stop suffering. We need a person to rely upon who is capable of explaining how to stop suffering, someone with an understanding of Emptiness and who has the motivation of Bodhicitta, love, kindness and compassion. These are the conventional aspects of the qualifications. By seeing those qualities in the teacher, we should generate faith in the them. That's the correct way of approach. There are many high Lamas and precious teachers and they shouldn't have great names or a lot of money. Those are not the real Lamas we should look for. We strive to depend on the person who uses their qualities to benefit others without being attached to worldly concerns. By relying on such a person, it's also important to look at one's own faults and the qualities of others and generate an honest and kind mind.

So, we like to generate a mind that wishes to achieve Liberation and Enlightenment. To achieve Liberation and Enlightenment we have to depend on a teacher. In a similar way, we take refuge and this aspect of Refuge helps us to move in a safe direction. By moving in a safe direction, we accumulate merits and generate wisdom – two important aspects of the accumulation in order to achieve Buddhahood. We should understand the different levels or stages and study our mind –

the different coarser aspects of the mind, the afflictions that should be abandoned and the subtler aspects of the mind that understand reality. We should analyse and check the mind in that way and also study. Many of our teachers have undergone various in-depth forms of study, as seen in the great seats and the bigger monasteries and nunneries where they study the five major topics. They engage in, for example, the study of Pramana or texts on logic and reasoning. These texts are needed to generate sharpness of mind and profound reasoning. Then, the Middle Way is studied to eventually understand Emptiness and to eliminate all afflictions. We also have the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras that are studied.

I myself have not really followed these traditional trainings but there are people who have. By studying those five topics, we see it's a method to eliminate afflictions. That's a very important aspect of our training: to analyse coarser states of mind and subtler states of mind. By developing knowledge of those different topics, we can stop incorrect forms of consciousness or wrong views. When you study Buddhist tenets you learn how to develop the view from a coarser understanding to a subtler understanding. Many monks and nuns in these great seats of learning undergo these in-depth studies. It’s very inspiring because they stop the worldly life, take the responsibility to become ordained, then move forward on the path towards Liberation and Enlightenment. Based on their practice of morality they engage in the studies of Pramana or logic and reasoning – the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras – to generate the stages of the path or to understand the aspects of Bodhicitta. On top of that, they study the Middle Way philosophy to understand ultimate reality. With those qualities of this particular education, there is a possibility to eliminate wrong views. By doing so there are other aspects of the training that are also being studied, namely the other two of the five topics – the Abhidharma and the Vinaya scriptures.

Based on this knowledge, it's important to check the mind, know what to abandon and know what to accomplish. If one engages in these studies one's life becomes meaningful, benefiting oneself and others. One can take responsibility, which depends on the Lama and on refuge. It's also important to understand the objects of refuge because many Buddhists, even after fifteen years, don't really understand what exactly the Three Jewels of Refuge are. What does it mean to be a Buddha? What is a Dharma Jewel? What is the truth of cessation? What are the true paths? The true cessation and true paths refer to the actual Dharma Jewel. And what is the Sangha? It's important to get a clear understanding of the Three Jewels of Refuge. When we have that understanding we know we ourselves can accomplish those aspects. We know the objects of our accomplishment. Then, we try to understand these aspects, take control over our mind and put these aspects of refuge and the advice given after taking refuge into practice. We generate faith and by doing so we try to have a more compassionate attitude, or the mind of Bodhicitta. We should think that in all of our activities of body, speech and mind, we basically want to offer it to all sentient beings.

7. FAITH

Wisdom, as we consider it again and again, is extremely important to generate a stable kind of faith. We need faith that is extremely stable with regards to the teacher, the Three Jewels of Refuge and, in particular, to the Dharma Jewel. When we generate faith based on reasoning, these aspects of the path become extremely precious. We need faith in these aspects and we should rejoice in other beings' good deeds and understand that all beings without exception have the tathagatagarbha or the tathagata essence – the Buddha potential that abides in the continuity of the minds of all sentient beings, without exception. This means all beings have the potential to become a Buddha and that the Buddha's activities, the vast enlightened activities of the Buddha, are to be found in every direction.

It's important to generate faith in the Dharma in general and, in particular, in the Three Jewels. It's also important to have respect for the different schools within Buddhism or respect for any form of religion or faith. Generally speaking, for us, of course, the Three Jewels might be the path but that doesn't imply it's for everybody. We should have respect for other traditions and religions because if we don't and we just follow our afflictions rooted in grasping at the apprehension of a self, there's a great danger of afflictions being generated and negative karma being created. It's very important to know these aspects of the Buddhist path, to know about the Three Jewels, to study them and understand them, to know about the law of cause and effect and karma and to generate faith in that reality. That's extremely important because many of us do deity yoga or generation and completion stage practices. It's all very precious and extremely profound, but if you don't have the knowledge and the faith in these practices it doesn't carry out the potential it has.

It's important to have different types of refuge. We sometimes talk about outer refuges, inner refuge, secret and the refuges of suchness. It is very important to understand those aspects of the path. Of course, there are different people with different interests and inclinations, which is why there are different schools and different forms of faith. Even in Buddhism we see different kinds of schools or traditions. It's very important to check and analyse well, to see which tradition or aspect of the teaching benefits your mind. It's important to do so. In a similar way, when we depend on medication, if a particular medication doesn't benefit you, you put that medication aside. We should have a similar approach with regard to the Buddhist doctrine. Eventually, we can depend on a particular teacher and generate faith in that teacher and try to avoid any form of negative deeds. That includes not criticizing other traditions.

For example in Tibet, as you know, we have Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya and Gelug. Those different traditions all aim to achieve Enlightenment, though they have slightly different methods. They all have the same goals. Based on that understanding we should generate faith and have respect for the different traditions because we simply don't know if a person of a particular tradition or a lineage master of a particular tradition is an emanation of a Bodhisattva or not. We simply don't know. Therefore, we should prevent negative karma from being created because that definitely will bring results in the future. A good piece of advice regarding those aspects is, although we like to look at the faults of others and hide our own faults, it's essential to reverse that and mainly focus on our own faults. By doing so, you will transform your mind. Then, on top of that transformation, try to generate the precious mind of Bodhicitta and take responsibility for all sentient beings without exception. Of course, there are different traditions in Buddhism. We have the Theravada tradition and the Mahayana tradition, each of which has differences in motivations. In the aspiration of Bodhicitta, we try to focus on the benefit of all sentient beings and take responsibility. We then enjoin that responsibility with wisdom in order to progress on the spiritual path to Enlightenment.

8. BODHICITTA

We should focus on the benefits of taking refuge and follow the advice given after taking refuge. Using wisdom and relying on the teacher, we should understand and study the different traditions. If we don't apply wisdom and education in that direction we are missing out. It's important to use wisdom and comprehend the various aspects of what refuge actually means. By following that path with wisdom, your wisdom will increase over time. That’s another aspect of using reasoning to understand what refuge is all about. Regarding Bodhicitta, we should contemplate the benefits of Bodhicitta and enhance our experience or development of Bodhicitta. There are two aspects to Bodhicitta: aspirational Bodhicitta and engaging Bodhicitta. With those two aspects, we strive for the Liberation of all sentient beings. Initially, reflect on how wonderful it would be if all beings were free from suffering, thinking “may they be free from suffering”. Those are two aspects of the Bodhicitta aspiration.

We aim to generate equanimity towards all sentient beings, to avoid aversion to those at a distance, attachment to those who are close, or having indifferent feelings towards those we don't know. We strive to generate equanimity. Based on how wonderful it would be for them to be free of suffering, we think “may they be free of suffering”. Those are two aspects of the actual aspiration. We aim to take on the responsibility of achieving this. That responsibility, combined with practicing the Six Perfections, is what we consider engaging Bodhicitta. The Six Perfections include generosity, morality, patience, effort, concentration and wisdom. We can find similarities in various traditions, however in the Buddhist tradition we engage in generosity, morality, patience, effort and concentration for the purpose of achieving Enlightenment. This becomes a unique aspect of practicing the Six Perfections in that way. In Buddhism we focus on all sentient beings. We understand ultimate reality by understanding dependent origination and Emptiness, the union of interdependence and Emptiness. This is a very unique aspect of the Buddhist doctrine. The aspects of the clear light mind are also unique to Buddhism, specific to Buddhist teachings. By understanding these aspects of Bodhicitta as well as the wisdom realizing Emptiness, then combining them with the Six Perfections, if you understand Emptiness well you can practice the Six Perfections from within the understanding of Emptiness. The Six Perfections then become extremely profound. By considering these aspects you can see how incredibly fortunate it is to be able to practice these teachings and how precious it is to practice them, even though it's not always easy. These aspects of Bodhicitta are to work for the benefit of all beings without exception and, as this is possible, we should feel very fortunate and feel that we have a very precious aspect of the training that we have encountered.We should therefore strive to use wisdom to understand and develop these aspects of the Six Perfections, based on the motivation of Bodhicitta. Look at sentient beings as vast and limitless as the sky, then strive to cultivate either the seven instructions of cause and effect, or the instruction of exchanging self for others. By engaging in either of these methods or the combined methods, we endeavour to develop and enhance our Bodhicitta.

9. WISDOM

It is crucial to recognize that all phenomena are empty of inherent existence. We require the Perfection of Wisdom and a perfect form of wisdom. With this perfect form of wisdom, understanding and realization of Emptiness, we then have the ability to eliminate all afflictions along with their seeds. Emptiness is crucial for eliminating various forms of afflictions. If we continue to hold onto the apprehension of a self we will repeatedly encounter suffering and difficulties, in this life and in future lives. It is essential to understand the distinction between what appears to us and what reality is. By comprehending the ultimate reality of Emptiness, we will eventually eliminate all obscurations to Liberation and omniscience. It is consistently important to use wisdom to discern which mind is mistaken and which mind is correct. Through these trainings, combined with wisdom, we also strive to cultivate compassion, kindness and patience. By doing so and taking responsibility for all of the six types of beings in samsara who are suffering endlessly, we should try to progress in the best way possible to develop and benefit these limitless sentient beings.

First and foremost, it is important to generate Bodhicitta and then use that Bodhicitta in conjunction with method and wisdom. We must practice in stages as we cannot immediately practice patience in all circumstances. We must progress step by step. Just like controlling a stream where dams are placed at different points to direct water flow, practicing patience requires time. It is crucial that minds like Renunciation have a correct understanding of the suffering of samsara, in order to cultivate a genuine understanding of Renunciation. Otherwise, if our Renunciation is artificial, we may quickly return from a solitary place in the mountains.

Ensuring that our practices of patience and Renunciation are stable and genuine is important. Sometimes we contemplate briefly but not consistently, resulting in instability. It is essential to maintain a sustainable continuity in this regard, as most of us crave ‘quick and easy’ solutions. Understanding these points well and establishing them as fundamental aspects of stability to be cultivated, rather than seeking quick fixes, is crucial.

Wisdom plays a crucial role in all aspects of training. Recognizing that everything, including all sentient beings, is empty of inherent existence and that the negative actions of sentient beings are rooted in afflictions, is key. When we see that beings act negatively due to afflictions like attachment or aversion, our compassion becomes more genuine. It becomes detached from the afflictions of anger and attachment. Generating a truly compassionate mindset is vital. By doing so, our lives become more meaningful as we strive for Liberation and Enlightenment. By contemplating these points repeatedly and understanding that harm caused by others is due to afflictions and not intrinsic to the individual, our compassion towards sentient beings becomes more profound. Understanding that those who say hurtful things to us do not inherently exist and are also dependent in nature, while considering the dependence of afflictions and factors of causes and effects like karma, helps us deepen our compassion towards sentient beings. By contemplating these aspects, our compassion for sentient beings becomes much more profound.

We need wisdom and compassion on our path to Liberation and Enlightenment. We all strive for happiness and do not want suffering, as do all beings in the world. We all belong to the same family. However, you can also consider that aversion and attachment, if analysed carefully, create challenges for ourselves and others. We are living together in the same family, the same country, on the same planet, sharing food, desiring happiness without suffering. By the power of aversion and attachment we generate difficulties for ourselves and others. Problems in the world are often caused by afflictions like aversion and attachment, which disrupt our well-being and lead to suffering. We require profound wisdom, coupled with method, to address these afflictions. We need an authentic, profound form of wisdom to eliminate all negativities of the mind and the challenges we encounter. It is crucial that we constantly analyse our minds. Sometimes, we say, "I did this" or "I did that" or experience a kind of self-embarrassment. Yet, if we truly investigate where this "I" is, we realize that it is elusive and at the root of many of our problems.

All types of suffering stem from clinging to a true existence or grasping at a self. This clinging leads to the generation of negative states of mind like aversion and attachment, causing perpetual suffering. This grasping at a self must be counteracted with wisdom. By cultivating Renunciation and Bodhicitta through analysing the nature of the mind, we understand that everything around us, including our body and mind, people, afflictions and things around us, cannot be found in an independent manner. The "I" that we often grasp at, the cause of our problems, is not solid or findable. So, why worry about things if there isn’t really an “I” to worry about?

When we cling to this illusory "I", afflictions like anger and attachment can overpower us and enslave us. We are enslaved or overpowered by afflictive emotions, leading to a lack of freedom. If we are overpowered by afflictions, there is no freedom. We know we have the methods to stop that process. We have a precious mind and wisdom. With this wisdom we can eliminate the faults or afflictions of the mind. It's important to understand that if you give up this type of wisdom, you will end up in trouble.

In modern times in the 21st century, especially in the West, many people have become interested in meditation. This is good but it should be accompanied by wisdom. This wisdom, which is essential, should be related to ultimate reality, leading to a genuine form of Renunciation and Bodhicitta. Initially, we may have a more artificial or contrived understanding of these concepts. It is then through analytical meditation that we can achieve a genuine, uncontrived understanding. It is very important to use wisdom in such analytical meditation. Also, we need to understand that what really harms us is twofold; we are harmed by grasping at a self and we are harmed by the self-cherishing attitude. With these two aspects harming us, we should acquire an antidote. Here, the antidote is that we should cherish others and cultivate Bodhicitta, which will in turn eliminate the self-cherishing attitude. Understanding Emptiness will eliminate the grasping at a self.

We can see here that Bodhicitta helps us cherish others, while wisdom helps us understand Emptiness. These two aspects will eventually eliminate the grasping at a self and the self-cherishing attitude. Therefore, if we have the two antidotes –

Bodhicitta and the wisdom realizing Emptiness – we should try to develop them in unity. Then, whatever we engage in, we should always examine our minds and see to what extent self-grasping is present and to what extent it manifests as aversion or attachment. When we contemplate these aspects of analytical meditation, we find them very precious and valuable for developing the mind in a sophisticated way. Otherwise, people might misunderstand meditation and claim they are meditating, giving rise to the question – "What are they actually doing?"

10. THE PRACTICE

We all have some experience reciting different prayers or performing various pujas. In different centres we do that. In the ‘Offering to the Lama’ ritual various practices are very profound, including aspects of mind training and contemplations of the lamrim prayers, or the overview meditation of the lamrim. Then there is a verse where you pray to the Guru for all negative deeds of all sentient beings to ripen upon you and for all virtue accumulated by you to ripen upon all sentient beings. This is a very precious verse. You ask the Guru for blessings to do this Tonglen practice. Some people chant it very nicely and slowly, but it's important to understand the meaning and contemplate the purpose of it other than just the beautiful chant.

In similar aspects of practicing patience, if people don't have a genuine practice of patience and someone comments on their weight, saying they have become fat and so on, that person can quickly generate anger.

We need to generate and understand these different aspects of the training. Depending on the kindness of the Guru, we strive to cultivate the various aspects of the path. It's crucial to engage in experiences of the path and truly contemplate the meanings that you recite. For example, in practices like deity yoga or different practices, such as sadhanas, it's important to develop a deep understanding of the development and perfection stages. It is also really important to understand Emptiness well. Dissolving the contaminated coarse aggregates into Emptiness and within that understanding or realization generating oneself as a deity, is not easy. This type of practice is extremely profound. Even though these practices are complex, it's essential to pray and find inspiration in them, progressing with a correct understanding. Without this understanding, engaging in such practices may lead to spiritual materialism. For example, seeking wealth or reputation, or looking for some temporary benefits. Therefore, we need a wisdom that is extremely profound and which gives us the ability to accomplish these aspects of Sutrayana and Vajrayana. We then need a union of the two, the union of Emptiness with compassion. Once we have this union of Emptiness and compassion, we have a very profound aspect of the training.

The generation and completion stage practices then become very important. Even simple recitation mantras, such as Om Mani Pad Me Hum, can be developed in a similar way. It is very important to really understand what it all means and generate faith in those aspects of reciting such mantras and doing the various practices. It also depends on faith with regards to the results. If there’s little faith, then the results will be small. If there is this kind of middling form of faith, the results will be middling. If there is great form of faith, then the results will of course be very vast. So that's one important aspect. Then there's the different activities of the deities, which include peaceful, increasing, controlling and wrathful kinds of aspects.

So, it's a very profound system of practice we can find in the Vajrayana practices of deity yoga. It’s therefore very essential to develop a correct understanding and then, based on faith and on the wisdom understanding Emptiness in union with compassion, engage in these kind of aspects. Otherwise, if you just recite various sadhanas because you have the commitment of your teacher or teachers, doing so without understanding the meaning, it just becomes a burden to you. You will just recite again and again, becoming extremely uptight and even angry. Those kinds of aspects we would like to avoid from happening.

To avoid those things from happening we need wisdom in union with compassion. These kinds of practices can then become extremely precious. Just taking refuge by itself becomes very special. Your meditations will bear fruit. But you need wisdom and you need faith. This will eventually produce realizations, realizations which will benefit you. With those realizations, you can then benefit others. So yes, whatever you engage in, if it's a retreat, if it's teaching, if it's service, these aspects of faith and compassion, joined with wisdom, are very important aspects of the path.

Some people just strive to get certain kinds of accomplishments or realizations or types of clairvoyance, but those by themselves are not as profound as they appear to be. These days, in your mobile phone, you can already see so many things in other places around the world.

As to these aspects of the training and in particular the aspects of deity yoga or generation stage practices we just talked about, we have various practices of consecration where we dissolve the deity into a particular statue. There are also various aspects of dissolving the wisdom beings and commitment beings into the different parts of the body or into a particular statue or holy object. For us, it's very important to have the most precious kind of substances for that; having those kinds of precious things representing the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, or representing body, speech and mind.

In a similar way, for example for our own house, we want to have the best of the best. Sometimes, for example, if you think about things you like to protect and things you like to keep, if you have something made out of diamonds or there's a lot of money, you will never leave it alone. You will always protect and respect and keep it with you and won’t ever want to be separated from it. In a similar way, we should see the representatives of the Three Jewels of Refuge or statues or representative objects of body speech, and mind of the Buddhas – whether it's made out of wood or gold or any other form of substance –

we should regard them all the same and not make a distinction between what's precious and what's not precious. They all represent the same qualities of the Buddha's body, speech and mind. By not knowing these kinds of aspects of the qualities of the Three Jewels, then there is also no real constructive form of faith being generated. Therefore, the faith we generate with regards to the Three Jewels also should be based on wisdom. This wisdom should be a foundation for the three principal aspects of the path of Renunciation, Bodhicitta, and Emptiness. As a result, those kinds of three principal aspects will become extremely stable.

In a similar way, when we look at the two obstacles we talked about previously, the grasping at self and the self-cherishing attitude, one's meditations should be focused upon eliminating those two aspects. The meditations we engage in should be focused upon an analytical approach to eliminate the grasping at a self and an analytic approach to eliminate the self-cherishing attitude. Because, if you just sit there and try to just be calm and not think about things too much, having a kind of non-thought consciousness, unless you're able to recognize the ultimate nature of the mind, it's a different story. But if you just sit there and you think, "Oh, I'm meditating now and I'm very relaxed and I’m not really thinking about things, so I’m meditating", actually that’s not real meditation. Similarly, if you go to the Boudha Stupa in Nepal and you see the pigeons there who come for food, they can also sit still for hours (even if there’s no food). So, that’s not really an accomplishment, if you just sit still in your room without thinking.

We need a real form of analytical meditation that increases wisdom and compassion and which eliminates the three poisons. That’s the real purpose of meditation. For if you just sit there and think, "Oh I'm meditating now and I'm very relaxed”, some person then comes and disturbs you a little bit, straightaway making you get angry. That’s not the real purpose of meditation. We need to use wisdom and we need to use an analytical approach. It’s wisdom that helps and protects us, whether we are a believer or non-believer, a Buddhist or a non-Buddhist. If you want to achieve happiness for yourself and others, or if you want to achieve happiness on a temporary level or an ultimate level, you need to depend on wisdom. Again, that's true for a believer or a non-believer. For us, we then try to combine that wisdom with a vast vision, a vast virtuous vision, a vision of working for the benefit of all sentient beings. Then, we try to combine this attitude of Bodhicitta with practicing patience, day by day. Gradually, over time, we will develop the kind of compassion that is free or separated from attachment. Day by day, we will increase our capacity to initially reduce and then eventually eliminate the three poisons, developing good qualities of mind like compassion and wisdom. Here, by using a pattern of habituation based on analytical meditation, we develop qualities of mind like love and kindness, compassion, wisdom and patience. By doing so, by habituating ourselves over a long period of time, we will definitely be able to eliminate the suffering of ourself and others.

11. CONCLUSION

Based on the meditation techniques we just discussed, it is also very important to make various prayers or aspirations. For example, may all beings be free of the feelings of being close with attachment, or distant with aversion. May all sentient beings also always abide in happiness and have the causes of happiness. May all sentient beings be free of suffering and the causes of suffering. However, when we make these prayers for all sentient beings to be free of suffering and the causes of suffering, it is also important to contemplate not just suffering but the root cause of suffering. Particularly, we should contemplate the root cause of suffering being our innate grasping at a self.

It is a very profound wish to want to see all sentient beings freed from their sufferings, to be free from the apprehension of a self together with the imprints of that apprehension. By doing so, we make our initiation, compassion and understanding of Emptiness more profound and genuine. We try to see all phenomena in the nature of being empty of inherent existence. If you train yourself in these ways, there is actually only happiness to be gained. That, alone, is extremely precious to think about as you contemplate these points.

When you recite mantras the same applies. If you use wisdom to analyse the meaning of, for example, the Om Mani Padme Hum mantra, if you truly contemplate its meaning and see its preciousness, then the mantra has greater benefits. Consider ‘Om’, seeing all phenomena or the nature of all phenomena in the nature of Emptiness - the pure aspect of all phenomena. Then with ‘Mani’, contemplate compassion and Bodhicitta or the mind of Enlightenment. With ‘Mani Padme’, reflect upon the Emptiness of inherent existence. Finally, with the ‘Hum’, contemplate that method and wisdom are to be practiced in a non-dual way. If you contemplate and recite the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum, your recitations will become extremely profound.

By putting these things into practice and through understanding these profound aspects of the path, you can see how incredibly fortunate we are to have found this profound path of the Buddhist doctrine. We strive to generate Bodhicitta and eventually accomplish Enlightenment. In Tibetan, ‘Changchup’ signifies the complete Enlightenment of having eliminated all faults and having acquired all qualities. By doing so, one attains the three qualities of Buddhahood: knowledge of the omniscient mind, compassion and the ability to help all sentient beings.

Understanding these points and qualities of our mind, with all its potential within, we should make a commitment to ourselves until we die. We should put effort in this direction, purify negative deeds and accumulate virtue. There is no more profound method than generating Bodhicitta, because it allows us to accumulate a vast amount of virtue and purify the mind. When we practice in that way, we become real heroes and heroines. These are the things we should contemplate. Please try to contemplate these points as we come to the end of today's event. I request you to put these points into practice.

12. DEDICATION

Please dedicate that we offer our practice to all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, dedicating all the virtue we have accumulated today for world peace and to the long and healthy life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Dedicate for all His wishes to be spontaneously fulfilled. May all sentient beings generate Bodhicitta and understand and realize Emptiness in their minds.