HIS HOLINESS THE 41ST SAKYA TRIZIN A FEW SHORT EXCERPTS FROM HIS HOLINESS’ TEACHINGS
Our life is mind
“How do we come to understand that our life is mind? There are many examples of how to realise this. One important example is that of the dream. In our dreams, we have many experiences and, while we’re dreaming, it feels as real as this life. We can see colours, shapes, everything, and it can influence our mind. If it is a happy dream, we enjoy it, and our mind is happy. There’s no difference between our dreams and the life that we are living. It is we who experience the dreams, and it is we who experience this life. There is no difference between the dream and the present life. The only difference is that our normal life is influenced by very strong propensities while our dreams are not so strongly affected by them, but it’s actually all the same.”
Benefiting other sentient beings
“From beginningless time up until this moment, we have cared solely for ourselves and worked solely for our own benefit. Every exertion we performed was for our own benefit alone. But by acting in this way, all we have actually accomplished is more and more suffering. So, this time, instead of caring for ourselves, we must care for others.
“As Shantideva said, ‘All the sufferings that beings experience in this universe arise from caring for oneself, and all the happiness that beings experience in this world arise from caring for others.’ If we had already practised caring for others in our previous lives, we would not still be in samsara — we would have already attained liberation and enlightenment. The cause of our not having cared for others is the natural tendency to care for ourselves. This is a very gross mistake. The way to correct it is to ignore oneself and to totally devote one’s energy and efforts to benefiting other sentient beings.”
“Not performing any virtuous practice, or performing the virtuous practice incorrectly, is considered the wrong way.”
The cultivation of compassion
“On whichever path you follow — the Mahayana path, and especially the Vajrayana path, which includes visualisations, recitations, and foundation practices — all practices are of course very, very important. But the most important practice of all is the cultivation of compassion. Without compassion, no matter what you do, it will not be the direct cause of enlightenment. For a practice to be a direct cause of enlightenment, you must have enlightenment mind. And to have proper enlightenment mind, you need compassion. Without compassion you can’t have the other qualities.”
What are the causes of suffering and happiness?
“The Ratnavali of Nagarjuna says, ‘Every action arising from desire, aversion and ignorance produces suffering; every action arising from the absence of desire, aversion and ignorance produces happiness.’
“Now, there are three kinds of people: lower persons, middling persons, and higher persons. Like all other beings, the lowest person wants happiness and wants neither suffering nor rebirth in the lower realms of existence, so he practises Buddhism to create the causes of rebirth in the human realm or in the heavenly realms of the gods. He does not have the power or the courage to leave worldly existence completely. He only wants the best parts of worldly existence, and he wants to avoid the worst ones, and that is why he practises the Buddhist religion: in order to get a higher rebirth.
“The middling sort of person understands that the whole of worldly existence, no matter where one is born, is suffering by nature, just as fire is hot by nature. He wants to get out of it altogether and attain Nirvana, the state that is entirely away from suffering.
“The highest person realises that, just as he himself or her herself does not want to suffer, and wants happiness, so also do all living beings have the same fears and wishes. He knows that, since we have been born again and again from beginning less time into worldly existence, there is not a single sentient being who has not been our mother and father at one time or another. Since we are that close to all sentient beings, the best person is the one who practises Buddhism to remove all these countless beings from suffering.”
The most essential thing to do to attain Buddhahood
“It is said that Avalokiteshavara was once asked by a disciple, ‘What practice is the most essential to accomplish Buddhahood?’ Avalokiteshavara answered that the most important thing, the most essential thing to do to attain Buddhahood, is to practiSe compassion. This is because when you practiSe compassion, all other qualities, such as loving-kindness and the enlightenment mind, are naturally accomplished and naturally gather.”
His Holiness the 41st Sakya Trizin
All images and quotes of His Holiness’ teachings are not from our own source, they have been shared through His Holiness’ website as well as reliable Instagram pages.
HELD AT KAMALASHILA TIBETAN BUDDHIST CENTRE 6-8 August 2021
“This Karma Yoga Group Retreat is being held for the sake of creating a beautiful home for the Dharma.” ~ Khenpo Ngawang Dhamchoe
Khenpo la encouraged others who were not able to attend this retreat physically to have the opportunity to provide a valuable contribution by becoming a sponsor of meals for the workers and materials for the jobs to be undertaken, so we can all feel the joy in contributing by helping the centre to flourish for all beings now and into the future… The term karma yoga originated in Sanskrit yet used in many different spiritual paths today. This is one of the three classical spiritual paths in yoga, Karma yoga being based on the yoga of action, the others being Jnana yoga (path of knowledge) and Bhakti yoga (path of loving devotion to what one believes in). To a karma yogi, right action is a form of prayer.
Of the classical paths to spiritual liberation, karma yoga is the path of unselfish action. It teaches that a spiritual seeker should act according to dharma, without being attached to the fruits or personal consequences. Karma yoga is to purify one’s mind, leading one to consider dharma of work, a selfless action performed for the benefit of others. It is rightful action without being attached to fruits or being manipulated by what the results might be, a dedication to one’s duty, and trying one’s best whilst being unattached to the rewards or outcomes such as success or failure.
DAY 1: Everyone worked extremely hard today, and we had a lovely time together. The day began with a meditation lead by Khenpo la, finished with a laugh and a yarn around the warm bon fire, with lots of work for the centre in between. Khenpo la lead by great example, working on the road and then painting one of the buildings, leading the meditation sessions and the retreat.
DAY 2: During the afternoon meditation, Khenpo la encouraged us to rest in the beautiful and positive feeling we had generated throughout this day. It was a feeling of being physically tired but mentally elated at having done something so worthwhile; a feeling of connection with others, some of whom we were meeting for the first time; a feeling of being present in this right time in this right place. Khenpo la suggested that we rest in this loving-kindness, this positive mind, and then allow it to grow, including all beings in its radiance. As Khenpo la pointed out, when our mind is settled in such a positive state, we can perceive everything as workable. When our mind is scattered or negative, it doesn’t matter how ideal our outer circumstances are, we will still be anxious.
DAY 3: What a transformation! Three days, 30 people, an abundance of kind energy, and Kamalashila shines even brighter! With each brushstroke, planting or pothole filled, everyone participating over this weekend has woven a part of themselves into this place. Just as if this place was busy making a lasting impression on us. Khenpo la pointed out as well, what we give is wonderful, but what we receive from this connection with the Dharma is immeasurable.
Lastly, amongst many invaluable outcomes over this time, it evolved to start a plant sponsorship opportunity – one of our sangha members can obtain wholesale native plant stock, tube stock and some hearty flowers that can withstand this bush environment. This can be a continual opportunity and invite anyone who would like to contribute in this way to either contact us by email or simply write on your very generous donation PLANT SPONSORSHIP via our website.
Thank you, Khenpo la and to everyone for contributing in making the centre even more beautiful! A special thank you to all those who couldn’t make it, to those who sponsored our food and materials for this weekend. Your contribution was very much appreciated!
HELD AT KAMALASHILA TIBETAN BUDDHIST CENTRE 13 July 2021
Tonight, on the eve of the anniversary of the Lord Buddha’s turning of the first Wheel of Dharma, Khenpo la completed his teaching on the fourth chapter of The Way of the Bodhisattva. Having taught last week on conscientiousness towards both precious human rebirth and the defilements, this week Khenpo’s teaching focused on the conscientiousness of abandoning the defilements.
Khenpo reminded us that our longest running enemy is our defilement – no one can run after us as much as our own defilement mind. We are not talking about one or two lifetimes here but countless lifetimes.
We need, therefore, to ask what is it that enables it to survive for so long or what is it that makes it stronger each time. Without listening to the Dharma, we won’t do the research. So, we need to hear the Dharma then analyse for ourselves. Shantideva said things that cause problems in this life and over a long time have only one sole cause which is the affliction mind. The affliction mind continually resides in our mental continuum.
If someone is causing you major difficulties, you won’t find it easy to be comfortable. For this reason, we spend so much time and effort to make ourselves comfortable even though it only lasts for a short period of time, at best. This proves that we haven’t found the solution and so we need to get rid of the affliction which causes the discomfort. This is unique to the Buddhist approach. As long as you have affliction in your mental continuum you will never feel comfortable whatever or how much you might have. So, we must work to free the affliction mind.
When you discover a particular food or drink is threatening your life then you avoid it immediately. Similarly, we need to realise just how toxic is the affliction mind. Awareness of its toxicity inspires us to stop the affliction mind – this is the main task.
Nagarjuna said conscientiousness is the nectar which leads us to a deathless state. It provides us with the path to gain enlightenment.
When someone threatens your life, you won’t feel comfortable towards that person, and you may do all you can to harm that person to protect your precious life, but the reality is that loss of your life is far less severe than the enormous negative karma incurred by that other person. The enemy who takes or tries to take your life should be the object of your compassion.
So don’t be angry towards an enemy who tries to disturb or take your life. You may think he or she is your enemy, but the moment the affliction mind is there it instantly harms you. So why aren’t we so concerned to consider it as a serious enemy, but we worry about others who may not even end up harming us. We waste so much in this life and yet we are so fortunate to meet the Dharma which gives us new eyes to see which things help and harm us. If a blind person makes a mistake, we accept it because they can’t see but we are the people who have met the Dharma, yet most of us are still doing the wrong things. We must wake up as a Dharma practitioner so that the moment the affliction mind arises, we can then simultaneously understand how it harms us.
At the same time, we need to appreciate that a defilement is not too difficult to defeat. And here there are three things we should do:
First, we should never back down from the defilement.
Second, we need to be obsessive in our efforts to defeat the defilement.
Third, we need to harbour a desire to defeat the defilement.
This can seem like a contradiction when you are Dharma practitioner to have a fighting mood but none of this is driven by the affliction mind but rather it comes from compassion, diligence, and wisdom and so they are the path. When you battle with the defilement, you should always be resolute and think even if they cut my head, I will never surrender to the defilement – we need to have a long-term vision that is not just oriented to this one lifetime.
When we practise Shamatha, we are not providing the condition for increasing the defilement. In this way, Shamatha can create a sense of peace because the defilement is not arising, but you are not free of the defilement itself rather just free of the condition for it to arise and so when the condition arises it returns. Therefore, Vipassana is so important. What is unique here, and essential to understand, is that once you uproot the defilement, or once you burn the seed, it will not return – uprooted defilement has no friend.
We need to appreciate that while the defilement can look very big it is also fragile and so we should not be discouraged from trying to eradicate something which has no strong root or foundation. Once you remove one stone from the foundation it is easy for the whole structure to collapse, so it is not as difficult to defeat the defilement as we might first think.
So how then to uproot the defilement? Once you know the selflessness of both self and phenomena, there is no room for any defilement to arise. When we fail to recognise this reality, the defilement arises which controls everyone.
Once you remove the affliction of self from your mental continuum, there is no place for the defilement to go or stay. This is a good thing because it means it can’t go to another place and then come back to you. Once it is removed it is completely gone so we need to know it is removable.
Only two things that stop us from defeating the defilement: when we are weak-minded and when we lack diligence. We are weak-minded when we overestimate the power of the defilement and think we can’t defeat it. Instead of thinking that way, we need to recall that it was not only one Buddha who attained Buddhahood but rather infinite Buddhas and if they, who started with minds like mine, can defeat the defilement then why can’t I too be successful. So, we always need to keep hold of this optimism and think of the countless Buddhas as when we recite Samantabhadra’s prayer. We also need to understand that once we combine a strong mind with diligence, we will most surely defeat the defilement. And finally, how can the wisdom mind free us from the defilement? For the real remedy for defilement is the wisdom mind. How to analyse? If the defilement is truly existent, where is it located? It’s not located in different organs which come and go and nor is it located in form so when you investigate you cannot find the defilement. It has a lack of existence, yet it can appear as a mirage or a magical show. When you analyse, you will not find that which you have described and once you know the absolute truth then there no substance and so the affliction mind does not arise. So, its eradication is attainable. You shouldn’t be discouraged at all and so you need to strengthen your wisdom.
In conclusion, whenever affliction thought arises, we should be conscientious and then it will have less influence in our body, speech, and mind and in turn our body, speech and mind will become virtuous and comfortable.
We should always be conscious of our role, duty and responsibility which is engaging Bodhicitta as this will eventually lead us to defeat the defilement. But how can we overcome our sickness if we don’t follow the guidance of the doctor? So, if we read and listen to the Dharma but don’t follow the teachings then suffering simply won’t go away. If we do follow the teachings, however, then we will reside in the virtuous and experience great comfort and joy as we make right effort in our quest to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings.
HELD AT KAMALASHILA TIBETAN BUDDHIST CENTRE 11 July 2021
After Sunday meditation our regular working bee collected more fireweed from the saddle, with Khenpo la leading by example alongside Ven. Tsultim and many sangha members. Zara cooked a delicious lunch! Thank you to everyone for all your hard work, once again.