Compassionate heart of bodhichitta

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The six teachings contained herein come from Lama Yeshe’s 1975 visit to lớn Australia. They are all filled with love, insight, wisdom & compassion, & the question-and-answer sessions Lama loved so much are as dynamic và informative as ever.

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Some people think they know all about Buddhism and Buddhists just because they’ve read a couple of books. They pick one up, “Hmm. Let’s see what this book says. Well, according to this it seems that Buddhists are really extreme. They believe in all sorts of strange stuff.” They pick up another: “My goodness, Buddhists are completely nihilistic.” They draw all sorts of wrong conclusions based on extremely limited information; they don’t see anything lượt thích the whole picture. This is very dangerous.

Perhaps they read something from the Madhyamaka school of Buddhist philosophy, which is known for its rigorous intellectual approach lớn the subject of emptiness, the ultimate nature of reality, and can be very difficult to lớn understand. This can lead them khổng lồ think, “Oh, Buddhists aren’t religious; they’re atheists. They don’t believe anything; they think that nothing exists. How can they consider themselves religious?” This too can be very dangerous.

Other people might conclude, “Wow! Buddhists believe in three Gods. They say Buddha is one God; Dharma is another; Sangha a third. They must be super-believers. That’s too much. In the West, we’ve never heard of such a thing as three Gods; only one. We’re religious, but we only have one God. We can’t even agree with the Buddhists on how many Gods there are.”

If you look at just one tiny aspect of Buddhism, of course it might appear too much for you. But Buddhism is not just about one or two small things; it is not some tiny philosophy. Lord Buddha explained the nature of every single phenomenon in the universe.

At this stage, I have had about nine or ten years’ experience teaching Buddhist philosophy khổng lồ Westerners and experimenting with how it fits their minds, mainly in the one-month meditation courses we hold each year at Kopan Monastery in Nepal. In these courses we try to explain everything, but I have found that if we talk too much about the negative side of things, students completely freak out. Not all of them, but many do. They say, “These lamas emphasize the negative too much. Why don’t they talk more about the positive? Buddhism isn’t only about delusion and suffering. Why bởi vì they teach us this negative stuff day after day?”

But the thing about Buddhism is that before you can put yourself into the positive path lớn liberation, enlightenment or God—whatever you want to hotline it, the name doesn’t matter—you have to lớn know how your negative mind works.

If you don’t understand how the two extreme negative views of overestimation và underestimation function within you, how can you correct your actions và put yourself into the right path? Therefore, it is crucial khổng lồ know the negative aspects of your nature. Actually, if you comprehend the evolution of your negative mind from beginning to lớn end, you’ll feel very comfortable. Conversely, if you don’t know how it works, you’ll finish up thinking that negative actions are positive.

Moreover, if you try lớn practice the path to liberation without a solid grounding in what is positive & what is negative, a simple question from someone challenging what you are doing can completely derail you. You might get confused and give up. That’s the sign of a weak mind. You have lớn see the totality of the evolution of both the negative and the positive mind.

Some people assume that Buddhism is probably a nice religion that always talks diplomatically & sweetly about holy things. When we start teaching Buddhism lớn beginners, we don’t begin by talking about holy things. The first thing we explain is the basic nature of your present mind—what’s going on down here, right now—not Buddha up there.

However, at this point, I would lượt thích to say one thing about the nature of Buddha. As I mentioned before, some people with a limited knowledge of Buddhism think that while Christianity & other religions say that God is only one, Buddhists worship three Gods. Actually, if you understand the true nature of Buddha, Dharma và Sangha, you’ll know that there’s no separation between them. Buddha is Buddha; Buddha is Dharma; Buddha is Sangha. Accepting Buddha, Dharma & Sangha as the ultimate refuge does not contradict the unity of God.

There are those who think that Buddhism is simply an intellectual philosophy & includes no religious practice. That’s not true either. Buddhism contains both intellectual philosophy & religious practice. When Lord Buddha was teaching, he taught his students as individuals, giving each whatever they needed. When offering solutions to lớn the negative mind, he would reveal different methods, because each person’s negative mind is different. Sometimes he would explain, “Yes, this exists,” but at others he would say, “No, this doesn’t exist,” drawing upon the Buddhist school of thought appropriate for each person’s màn chơi of mind.

Seeing this, people whose minds are limited might think that Lord Buddha was confused, that his explanations were contradictory. But Lord Buddha was not confused. He was a wise teacher who could see that different minds experienced different problems and, therefore, different solutions were required. For example, a skillful doctor might advise a patient with a fever khổng lồ fast for a couple of days but then tell the patient khổng lồ eat. The small-minded person might observe, “This doctor is silly. One day he says don’t eat, the next day he says eat. He’s really confused.” But actually, the doctor is wise. He understands the evolution of the patient’s disease, so he prescribes different treatments at different times.

Lord Buddha, the supreme physician, treated his disciples the same way. He taught sentient beings according lớn their màn chơi of mind. You can’t all of a sudden start talking about the intellectual intricacies of the enlightened view to lớn people whose minds are completely confused. They have a long way lớn go; they have to lớn be taught what their limited minds can digest. If even Lord Buddha were to lớn teach you things your mind could not digest, you’d freak out. Instead of gaining benefit, you’d go berserk. You have lớn know this.

Even before Buddhism came khổng lồ Tibet, there were already many different Buddhist schools, doctrines & philosophies in existence. There still are. But basically, they are in no way contradictory. They are all there for the gradual development of the human mind. Actually, all those various doctrines & philosophies exist for the gradual development of the individual person’s mind.

In the lowest school of Buddhist philosophy, Lord Buddha teaches that phenomena are self-existent. In the next, he teaches that they are not completely self-existent; that something comes from the side of the object and something from the side of the mind. Finally, he explains that in reality, nothing at all comes from the side of the object; it exists only in name.

You’ll find that some religions don’t have these different levels of view; don’t have a variety of approaches for the gradual development of the human mind. In Buddhism, when your mind is at the initial màn chơi you are given certain practices khổng lồ do. When, through those practices, your mind has developed a little, you are taught the methods of the next level. When you have accomplished those, you go on lớn more advanced techniques. In this way, by degrees, your understanding & perception change & you progress along the path. Thus, Buddhism is extremely precise. Whoever you are, you can find specific philosophical explanations & methods of practice khổng lồ suit your individual level of mind.

In the West, we pick up a book, “Oh, this sounds good. I lượt thích this book. I think I’ll practice this meditation.” But even though the words sound nice & you like the ideas, if you’re not ready for a certain practice, there’s no way you can integrate it with your mind, và if you try, you might kết thúc up thinking, “Oh, this method doesn’t work.” But the problem is not with the method; it’s with your trying to implement something for which you are not ready. You don’t know how to integrate that idea with your mind or put it into your experience. That’s the problem.

You can find nice ideas in every book in the world, but how bởi vì these nice ideas relate to lớn your mind? How vì you put them into everyday experience? If you can, it makes sense for you khổng lồ practice them. Your mind will become soft and gentle, calm and peaceful, & your life will be happier. You will begin lớn taste the honey of Dharma. Otherwise, no honey, just Coca-Cola. Too much Coke, too much gas. No sleep và all running lớn the bathroom. I’m joking! I’m not talking about the physical here; these are just examples for the mind.

Whatever you find in Buddhist philosophy và practice is there solely for the psychological treatment of the human mind. Lord Buddha never propounded any abstruse philosophy just so that he could proudly proclaim, “This is my doctrine.” He never propounded a single philosophical point that wasn’t related khổng lồ the human mind or meant khổng lồ be integrated with it. Never. Buddhism is a way of living your life that is related khổng lồ your own mind, your own view, your own experience. Therefore, be careful when you evaluate Buddhism as “this, this or that.”

For example, after this lecture, you’re going lớn go home and tell people, “Buddhism is this, Buddhism is that, because this Tibetan lama said so.” But please don’t think that tonight I’ve told you all about Buddhism. I’ve barely scratched the surface. What I’m saying here is by no means the measure of Buddhism.

Since the different schools of Buddhist philosophy and their views are graduated—different schools for different minds—how vì chưng you know that when you pick up a particular book, what it contains will fit your mind? Of course, in Lord Buddha’s teachings there are methods for each of us. If you are wise, you can certainly select a book that suits you. In Buddhism, there’s something for everybody—something anybody can understand & actualize—and nothing that is too difficult for anybody, that no human mind can understand. Lord Buddha gave precise teachings that can be understood by any individual according khổng lồ their level of mind—different methods, different views, different philosophies, different doctrines.

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For example, Lord Buddha gave a general explanation of how karma functions in everyday life that you don’t need a sophisticated intellect to lớn understand. In his very first teaching, on the four noble truths, he explained karma very simply. First, he explained true suffering. Isn’t that sensible? If someone describes your own agitated mind—how it comes, how it goes, what sort of effects it has—how can you reject that? “Oh, that’s too much for me.” Impossible. How can you reject somebody’s telling you correctly & in detail how your mind is agitated; how it’s in conflict every day of your life because it is split, not integrated? If someone gives you a perfect explanation of this, how can you say it’s too difficult to lớn understand?

We don’t try khổng lồ teach beginners the intricacies of Madhyamaka philosophy. We can tell immediately who’s ready lớn listen to lớn teachings on emptiness and who isn’t. But we can teach them about the problems they face every day of their lives and the nature of true suffering in such a way that they can understand the evolution of their everyday reality.

Actually, Lord Buddha taught about human suffering và the agitated mind in many different ways. Khổng lồ some people, he gave very simple explanations; to others, who were more intellectually advanced, he gave more subtle, technical explanations. Even the way he taught about the nature of suffering is fantastic—he had so many different approaches khổng lồ introduce this subject khổng lồ the human mind. Isn’t it amazing? How can you deny your agitated mind? “I don’t believe I have an agitated mind. I don’t want khổng lồ hear about that.” How can you deny it? Every day of your life you are trapped in your physical body and have to put up with it. When somebody explains its nature lớn you, how can you reject it?

Perhaps you’re going lớn argue that you don’t have an agitated mind. In that case, I’m going khổng lồ say, kiểm tra how you are when you get up in the morning. Be aware for just a day, then you’ll see. Or not even a day. Just try sitting still for an hour in a cross-legged position. Your ego will completely freak out: “Oh, my knees hurt.” Pain in the knees is so transient; your agitated mind keeps going & going & going—all day và all night; for months, for years. It never stops.

In Sanskrit, the word for Lord Buddha’s teaching is Dharma. Dharma is medicine. Just as every physical illness has its own medicine, Lord Buddha has prescribed a specific method for each mental disease. That’s what he taught. He didn’t just hand out the same teaching to lớn everybody, irrespective of who they were or what their problem was. Therefore, you can’t simply say, “Buddhism is this.” Dharma is not just one thing.

As I mentioned before, there are various schools of Buddhist thought. The two main ones are the Hinayana và the Mahayana. The Mahayana, in turn, is divided into Paramitayana và Vajrayana, or Tantrayana. Tantrayana, or tantra, also contains a variety of schools. Basically, there are four, each of which contains its own specific techniques, but I can’t go into that here. Nevertheless, it’s important for you to know that there exists such a well-organized, step-by-step path, by which you can gradually develop your mind khổng lồ enlightenment. Since Tibetan Buddhism is not yet perfectly established in this part of the world, I’m just mentioning this for your information.

For example, these days we have advanced modes of transport, like fast cars và jet planes, but that doesn’t mean there’s no longer any place for the bicycle. In the evolution of human transport, we started off with simple carts, then came cars, then planes và now we have moon rockets and so forth. Soon there’ll be something to đứng top even the rockets of today; don’t think that they’re the ultimate human invention. There’s no limit khổng lồ how far the human mind can develop. Lượt thích today, everybody has television, but a few decades ago, if you’d described a television set to lớn somebody, they would not have believed such a thing possible. Or nowadays, in developed countries at least, many people have a car. Perhaps in time, all these people will have their own jet. You’re going to lớn tell me that that’s not possible, but why not? These things are material phenomena & if the human mind puts effort in that direction, such things can develop. It’s nothing supernatural; it just hasn’t happened yet.

Anyway, what I’m saying is that just as here, with these material things, there are degrees of development và the earlier versions don’t conflict with the later ones, so too the philosophies, doctrines, views and methods contained in Lord Buddha’s profound teaching are all there for the gradual spiritual development of any one individual & do not conflict with or contradict each other.

Of course, if you think that the material sense world that you perceive is all that exists và that there’s no possibility of accomplishing that which you can imagine, that it’s all purely mental speculation, that’s ridiculous. Even the inventor of the rocket had to lớn picture it in his mind before he could create it. First he dreamed it up; then he put together the material elements necessary lớn manufacture it; then the rocket appeared. There’s no way he could have made a rocket without first creating it in his mind. So you can see, all these different modern inventions result from the power nguồn of the human mind. Therefore, don’t think that dreams never become reality. It’s possible.

Perhaps that’s enough for now. Basically, Mahayana Buddhism contains many methods & techniques and every single one is necessary for the development of each human mind. I’m not going to lớn go into the specifics here, but if you have any questions I’d be glad lớn try to lớn answer them.

Q. I’d like to ask something about reincarnation. Some occultists believe that if you’re born in a Western country, you’re born there for the lessons that are khổng lồ be learned in the West and to take up an Eastern teaching is lớn regress, because you would already have been in the East many times before. Now, this might be a silly view, but some people hold it and I wonder what you think. Lama. Well, that’s a good question—I guess! So, what’s your conclusion? That those born in the West are advanced human beings & for them to learn Eastern philosophy is to descend into the animal realm? That’s what it sounds like. But it’s a good question; some people might think lượt thích that. And I agree that there could be somebody who says, “I’m fed up with the Western way of life. I can’t stand it any longer. I’m going East.” This person is too extreme, và his rejecting the West và adopting Eastern ideas in this way could be seen as a return khổng lồ the animal realm.

But another Westerner might think, “I have everything. I’m well educated, I have a wife & family, a good job, a house, a car và plenty of money, but I’m still not satisfied. When I was a kid, I thought if I had all this I’d be happy, but I’m not. Money is not everything. I need to tư vấn my mind.” He knows the entire Western experience from beginning to kết thúc but he’s still not satisfied and wants to learn about the mind. So, where can he go? He knows that Western psychologists cannot explain the nature of the mind và how it works in the present moment. But he needs satisfaction right now. He wants lớn be able khổng lồ face the world and tư vấn his mind without fear. He checks around and comes lớn the conclusion that Eastern ways of thought can help him more than those of the West. Coming to Eastern philosophy in this way is progress, not a regression khổng lồ the animal realm. For some people, it’s necessary. Therefore, taking up Eastern thought can be positive for some, while for others it can be negative.

Q. Scientists say that there are intelligent beings throughout the universe. Is Earth the only place where people can gain enlightenment or vị you consider that there are intelligent beings on other planets who can gain enlightenment in their own physical plane?

Lama. It’s not only in this solar system that you can get enlightened. Both science and Lord Buddha have described billions and billions of solar systems. What Lord Buddha described 2,500 years ago and what the scientists of today have discovered have come together perfectly.

Q. Have you ever been reincarnated? Have you had previous lives? Lama. Yes, of course. My mind—but not this body—has come from previous lives. & I’ll go on forever. This life will become a past life of my future ones. Nothing can stop the energy of consciousness, or mind. Therefore, killing yourself is no solution to a difficult life. It’s much better lớn simply relax & wait for death khổng lồ come in its own time.

Q. Does Buddhism teach an kết thúc to a particular mind or does the transfer of minds go on forever?

Lama. Some kinds of mind can end but there’s no end to the basic mind. The moment-to-moment mind—the waves upon the ocean—can stop but the energy of the ocean of mind runs forever.

Q. Does that mean that the world and the universe will continue infinitely?

Lama. I said it’s the mind that continues.

Q. & who is it that keeps this wheel moving?

Lama. Who keeps the wheel of mind moving? Energy. Forexample, the energy of your mind of yesterday automaticallymoves your mind of today. It’s just lượt thích your physical body toàn thân in thateven when your body toàn thân dies, the energy of its elements continues torun, albeit in another form.

Q. Has there always been the same number of sentient beings? Will there always be the same number?

Lama. In this solar system, the numbers vary. Sometimes more,sometimes less; in this solar system, sentient beings come and go.

Q. Does that mean that we could incarnate into a different solar systems?

Lama. Yes, we incarnate into different worlds. Sometimes we have bodies of form; sometimes our bodies are formless.

But now we have to finish. If you have more questions, please bring them tomorrow night & we can debate together then.

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