His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama A few short excerpts from His Holiness’ teachings
“This is a bit like a river that is flowing quite strongly, in which you cannot see the riverbed very clearly. If, however, there was some way you could stop the flow in both directions, from where the water is coming and to where the water is flowing, then you could keep the water still. That would allow you to see the base of the river quite clearly. Similarly, when you are able to stop your mind from chasing sensory objects and thinking about the past and future and so on, and when you can free your mind from being totally ‘blanked out’ as well, then you will begin to see underneath this turbulence of the thought processes. There is an underlying stillness, an underlying clarity of the mind. You should try to observe or experience this…”
“Similarly, when mental wandering arises, we can think of an unpleasant subject, such as the suffering nature of samsara. When our mind is low, changing to a happy subject can bring it back up; when it is wandering, changing to an unpleasant subject can bring it down out of the sky and back to earth.”
“The antidote to depression is tightening the concentration; the antidote to wandering is loosening it.
“When counteracting mental sinking with tightness, we must be careful to avoid the excessive tightness that a lack of natural desire to meditate can create; we need to balance tightness with relaxation.
“When our mind gets too tight like this we should just relax within our meditation. If that doesn’t work, we can forget the object for a while and concentrate on happy thoughts, such as the beneficial effects of bodhicitta, until our mind regains its composure, and then return to our object of meditation. This is akin to washing our face in cold water. If contemplating a happy subject does not pick us up, we can visualise that our mind takes the form of a tiny seed at our heart and then shoot this seed out of the crown of our head into the clouds above, leave it there for a few moments and then bring it back. If this does not help, we can just take a short break from our meditation.
“If somebody insults, abuses, or criticises us, saying that we are incompetent and do not know how to do anything and so forth, we are likely to get truly angry and contradict what the person has said. We should not react in this way; instead, with humility and tolerance, we should accept what has been said.
“Where it says that we should accept defeat and offer the victory to others, we must differentiate the two kinds of the situation. If, on the one hand, we are obsessed with our own welfare and very selfishly motivated, we should accept defeat and offer victory to the other, even if our life is at stake. But if, on the other hand, the situation is such that the welfare of others is at stake, we must work extremely hard to fight for the rights of others and not accept the loss at all.
“One of the forty-six secondary vows of a bodhisattva refers to a situation in which somebody is doing something very harmful and you have to use forceful methods or whatever else is necessary to stop that person’s actions immediately - if you don’t, you have transgressed that commitment.36 It might appear that this bodhisattva vow and the fifth stanza, which says that one must accept defeat and give the victory to the other, are contradictory but they are not. The bodhisattva precept deals with a situation in which one’s prime concern is the welfare of others: if somebody is doing something extremely harmful and dangerous it is wrong not to take strong measures to stop it if necessary. Nowadays, in incredibly competitive societies, strong defensive or similar actions are often required. The motivation for these should not be selfish concern but extensive feelings of kindness and compassion toward others. If we act out of such feelings to save others from creating negative karma this is entirely correct.”