HELD AT KAMALASHILA TIBETAN BUDDHIST CENTRE 19 OCTOBER 2021
On the very auspicious day of the anniversary of five Great Sakya Masters, Khenpo la continued his teachings on Patience as detailed in Chapter 6 of “The Way of the Bodhisattva” by the great Indian saint Shantideva.
Khenpo opened the teaching by paying respect to our Most Precious Root Guru His Eminence Luding Khenchen Rinpoche on the occasion of His Eminence’s 91st birthday which also marked the anniversary of four other Great Sakya Masters: Khon Khonchok Gyalpo who established the first Sakya Monastery in Tibet; his son Sachen Kunga Nyingpo who is the emanation of the Buddha of Compassion; the Great Bari Lotsawa who bestowed the Precious Lam Dre that has been passed down to His Eminence; and the 17th century Master Gonpo Sonam Chokden.
Khenpo said that if today one was curious to see the Buddha, the closest person you would want to see is His Eminence who is the 75th throne holder of Ngorpa sub-sect of the Sakya lineage. His Eminence has hundreds of monasteries under his guidance, and he has ordained thousands of monks and nuns in Tibet and India and in Western countries. His Eminence is the greatest example of the kind of person who flawlessly holds the three vows of the Vinaya, Mahayana and Vajrayana.
Khenpo reminded us that the best gift we can give to the Guru is to be fully engaged in our practice of the Dharma and so focusing intently on the teachings is a wonderful gift to the teacher. Khenpo also noted that on this auspicious day we had also announced the launch of the Autumn Buddhist Philosophy Course. Students were encouraged to share details of this course with people they think might be interested in attending.
Khenpo then reiterated that there is no person out there who has the power to harm you. The conditions or circumstances may arise, but they are not the cause. Furthermore, because of the interdependence of all things there is no person that harms and there is no person that is harmed and there is no harm that exists. When we reflect and investigate the situation, we realise the emptiness of things.
So, whenever a difficulty arises, think no one has independently created this situation but it arises purely due to conditions. Awareness of this is patience as you realise there is nothing to be upset about. When discomfort arises, view this as the opportunity to see the truth of emptiness and implement your practice.
Don’t be upset by those who harm you. Instead view that person as the object of your compassion. A person with wrong view is not intentionally wishing to harm themselves but does so. Some say you should harm the body because it brings so much desire and that the more you hurt it the more you liberate the mind. As Khenpo Appey Rinpoche noted, this is wrong view and while you might harm the body and subdue the desire mind in the short term, ultimately it leads to anger and greater suffering. Similarly, we are so materialistic and expend so much effort to get things that we desire and when we fail to get them, we become very angry, and this leads to much greater suffering.
The great majority of ordinary sentient beings are controlled by the affliction mind. And once you know what it’s like to be in a miserable situation you understand why some people do negative things towards you. When you appreciate where they are coming from, then you are creating room to develop compassion towards them. But if you don’t see things this way, then you won’t open your heart of compassion towards them.
Patience is like a form of wisdom. The person trying to harm you is a person worthy of compassion. They are hurting themselves and you need to help them stop. Don’t increase their anger. And as you develop compassion towards them you come to appreciate how much benefit flows your way. Once compassion is born within you it frees us of so many sufferings. As a Mahayana practitioner, when someone seeks to harm us, we should view this an as opportunity to develop greater compassion and so there is no reason to be angry with the other person, to the contrary we should be grateful. In fact, we should be angry towards the anger mind that hurts you. We should never do anything to increase anger in others or ourselves and if we can’t free ourselves of the anger, we should at least try to minimise it.
The most powerful weapon to free the anger mind is the combination of loving kindness, compassion and Bodhicitta. When someone seeks to harm you, this is the perfect opportunity to practice loving kindness, compassion and Bodhicitta. See the opportunity presented to you. Contemplate what will come your way based on whether you respond with anger or compassion. Once you are aware and then you respond with loving kindness, this is actualising the Dharma. And the greater the harm directed your way, the more fertiliser it produces to develop your compassion.
Another way to deal with the situation is to reflect that when someone harms you whatever misery you encounter view this as the ripening of my past karma. This is not easy to do but it helps shift the focus to karma. As the Sutra stated, whenever you commit negative karma if you don’t do anything about it, it won’t burn out even a hundred aeons later. So, when it ripens on you through someone trying to harm you, see it as helping to cleanse past negative karma.
And when you find yourself in a miserable state reflect on how many more people out there feel they are victims and pray may all their sufferings ripen onto me. Shantideva taught us that the fastest way to achieve enlightenment is exchanging self and other and so the person who seeks to harm us is actually providing us with a wonderful opportunity.
When we lack the wisdom mind, then we grasp self and that in turn is the source of all the harm that comes our way – the bigger sense of self, the bigger the suffering. There is no one out there who really cause you suffering only the self-grasping mind does this. And the only time you won’t suffer is when you have freed the self-grasping mind, and this is the point of the Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana practices.
Note that while no single being desires suffering, we spend all our time rushing after the cause of suffering. From morning to night, we are caught up in useless busy activities, most of the time our actions are one of the ten non-virtuous deeds. We need to recognise that most suffering we experience derives from non-virtuous attachment to the body. Others we encounter are mere condition. Once you know this cause of suffering – and that it doesn’t derive from others, then we don’t have any room to be angry towards others.
Sometimes we feel like we are living in the hell realms. Yet in this same place the Bodhisattva’s reside. They don’t seek, like us, to run away rather they seed the difficult circumstances as an opportunity to increase their compassion and bring others into the path and for those already on the path to increase their progress.
Without sentient beings there will be no Dharma and so the problem is not sentient beings but rather my own negative mind. We need to see the truth of the situation and set about transforming this negative mind with a view to benefiting all sentient beings.
At the conclusion of the teaching, and on behalf of all the students, Khenpo la kindly offered a khata to the shrine displaying the image of our precious Root Guru His Eminence Luding Khenchen Rinpoche. Khenpo then led us all in reciting the long-life prayer for His Eminence before dedicating the merits of receiving these precious teachings on this auspicious day. His Eminence is an extraordinary inspiration and light of hope for us, being one of the great living Buddhist Masters in this world.
Any mistakes contained in the notes above are solely the fault of the author.