One more thing you need to hear. What you need to hear is ???, which is while it is emptiness, it is clarity. It’s perceivable, it’s a clarity. And while it is clarity, it is emptiness. This is how people like Chandrakirti, Nagarjuna, Asanga, they all think, this is how everything functions. Forget about mirror now. You are looking at me. Actually – but you see the thing is that you have forgotten the emptiness aspect of me because you have so much reason why I am solid and I am truly existent, because lot of things: Okay, he has been sitting there for almost five days, so he has to be real. So the time. And then consensus. If you ask around: Is he really there? Most them will say: Yes, he is there. So consensus. And also the usage. This man has been blabbering the whole five mornings. It has been recorded. There is evidence that he talked for four, five days. So, all of this makes you think or makes you forget the emptiness aspect.
Why is it so difficult to talk about emptiness and clarity? Why? Let me try this example. You are looking at a mirror and you see your face in there. Right? Now is your face gone there? No. That face in that mirror is not your face. Well I mean physically. That is not there. There is nothing behind. It is a flat thing. Your face is not there. Okay. Keep this in your head. Your face is not truly there, it is a reflection. Okay. But why is it so difficult. Every time you look at the mirror only your face comes. Not a banana or litchis or something like that. You understand, only your face comes. So this makes us think: Oh it has to be true. Because if it is not true then sometimes your face, sometimes a banana, sometimes a paper, something like that. Everything will become chaotic. But that is not the case. And also it works. If you need to put a lipstick, you don’t have to do it on the lips of the mirror, you use that as a reference and you use it on yourself. So this paradox or actually I think quite a good word is matrix. This matrix of emptiness and clarity, this seemingly non existent – it is not there, your face is still here – but the logic of only your face, not a banana, still works. These two.
You can safely that people who got carried away by the first sentence of the – okay form is emptiness, emptiness is form, form is not other than emptiness, emptiness is not other than the form, you can kind of jokingly say that people who got carried away by the first stanza, not have enough patience and listen to the rest, so to speak, they became very popular in Nalanda and slowly slowly slowly went to Tibet. Really. Okay, this could be wrong, this is my thinking. Tibet, India, very popular, specially northern India, and Tibet. And now I think in the West. People who kind of missed the first sentence, sort of missed the first sentence and got carried away by emptiness is form they got really excited and somehow the lineage went to China and Japan. This is how I feel.
So the dispute, not really dispute, dispute is not the right word, the style I think is the word, the style of the teaching has become different and not only that, in fact they even have their own, what you call it, the commander in chief at their helm so to speak. Maitreya. Emptiness is form and Manjushri, form is emptiness. ?? we call it, the two, not this two, but at least Nagarjuna guys from the Manjushri ??.
See, there is the emptiness aspect, the shunyata. Shunyata has the emptiness aspect. Nothing exists truly. But one should never ever forget that there is a clarity aspect too. Emptiness is not like a ???, it is not like an exhaustion of a fire or evaporation of moisture. It is not a negation. It is not a nihilism. So there is the clarity and emptiness. And these two, when we talk, for instance when I am talking to you, ideally I should have two mouth and simultaneously say the word emptiness and clarity. But because I don’t have that kind of power or that kind of attribute, I say in order. And this again misleads people by either falling into the emptiness or falling into the clarity.
Chandrakirti has no problem if you are searching. Chandrakirti has a problem if you find something. This is what Chandrakirti has been telling cittamatra school. You know cittamatra school has searched and searched and search and they found mind is the only thing that exist. That is wrong. Of course svatantrika, I mean sautantrika and vaibeshika, they find something. Samkya from the hindu school, they find some kind of an entity of self.
Buddha taught emptiness, for instance like on the Vultures Peak he taught prajnaparamita. But also Buddha taught buddha nature. And at glance, you will see a little bit of a contradiction. One is totally non existent and all of that. The moment the buddha nature is taught, there is an element of something does exist. I mean if you read the Uttaratantra, very heavy words like “it is unchanging”, “it is indestructible”, the buddha nature is almost like a Hindu atman. This is again, as I was telling you earlier, to cancel each other out. Maybe I should not be using all this kind of inauspicious language like “canceling each other”. I should use more holy language, such as union of the emptiness and the clarity. But actually, it actually means canceling each other out. Did you know that? ??? or the union is exactly canceling each other out. It is purposely done, even the way he taught. In the Avatamsaka, a very beautiful example of a mother nursing a baby. And the doctor says: “Milk is not good for this baby.” So the mother applies something very bitter on her nipple. And then when next time when the baby comes and want to drink, it tastes really bad and not good, so shies away. After a period of time, the doctor says: “Oh the baby now is enough of refraining from the milk, he has to drink milk.” Now she has to win back the baby to her milk. So then she has really coach the baby to how you know – see both are trick. There is something bitter. Trying to lure the baby. This is what the Buddha does, its a game that they play. It is.
And as I was telling you, what should the value do? It should give you the statisfaction or it should give you gratificaiton or at least your value should protect you from problems or suffering. Ah. If you have the view of non-grasping you are protected from all kinds of problems, all kinds of suffering. Because it is the grasping that is causing the problems. And by the way when we say zin pa choong na ta wa min, if you have a grasping you have no view, this grasping is not only like a grasping of gross things such as grasping to your laptop, grasping to your clubs, grasping to your favorite spot, grasping to your – we are not only talking about this kind of gross grasping. Do you know in zin pa choong na ta wa min at this stage even if you grasp at the notion enlightenment you have no view. This is saying a lot. It is completely, it is being really really – even the enlightenment, even the concept such as emptiness, if you have a grasping you have no view. Buddha Shakyamuni said that. ?..? Buddha Shakyamuni said to Kashyapa, ego as big as a Mount Meru is actually not so bad, but clinging or attachment to emptiness, even as small as a sesame seed is far more dangerous. So grasping is the problem because grasping creates the problem. This is a big statement by the way.
In case, some of you, those who are very new, some of you who have no knowledge of Manjushri, relatively speaking, Manjushri is like, Manjushri appears at time as one of the Buddha’s chief disciple among the lay disciples, chief among the lay disciples. But from the Mahayana sutras, Manjushri is also as the, I don’t know how to put this very simply, but Manjushri appears almost as the narrator of all the Buddha activities, narrator, the narration not necessary verbally but physically and in the form of manifestation. For instance it is believed that Suddhodana or Shakyamuni Buddha’s father, the physical father. Suddhodana is considered in the Mahayana sutras as a Manjushri in person. And also if some of you are familiar with the Buddha’s twelve deeds, Buddha’s life story, the deed of Buddha’s first observing the death, old age and sickness which triggered so to speak, which triggered Buddha’s renunciation mind. Then also seeing a Bikshu who really inspired the Buddha to become the wanderer. In some sutras in fact is believed that all the manifestation of death, old age and sickness and the monk are created by Manjushri as the reminder to the young bodhisattva. Manjushri seems to be quite busy, because Manjushri is not only doing this to the Shakyamuni Buddha but it is believed that Manjushri will be doing the same thing with all the nine hundred and ninety six coming Buddhas. Reminding them, teaching them, giving them signals. But then again also acting like a disciple. And his teachings, the way he taught also not ordinary. Many times, I am sure some of you know that in the sutras there is an account of how at one point when Shariputra or Kashyapa in the presence of the Shakyamuni Buddha asked Manjushri: What is emptiness, what is shunyata? Manjushri kept quite for some time and then Buddha applauded and said, that was the right answer. And there is also another occasion. You know is some of the Mahayana sutras there is this restriction that you are not supposed to teach the shunyata to ordinary people, ordinary who are not matured, because shunyata, the message of shunyata is too vast, if you are not prepared it can mislead you. But there is a Sutra which talks about how Manjushri actually, deliberately, loudly, extremely talked about emptiness and shunyata and all of that. In fact, about five hundred odd people got really shocked, and not only that, they actually sort of discard the Mahayana path and born in the lower realm. And another bodhisattva asked Manjushri this is like mindless thing to do. How can you, a bodhisattva, of all the people specially you Manjushri, how can you do such things? Here there Buddha Shakyamuni intervened and said: Actually Manjushri did an amazing thing because Manjushri knew that even though this people will suffer for the time being, eventually Manjushri has already planned the seed of understanding the shunyata. Therefore it was necessary. So as you can see from these accounts, Manjushri has a very unique way of teaching. Many sutras talk about Manjushri. I think it was Maitreya, the future Buddha, Maitreya said that if ten million bodhisattvas who are equal standings of Maitreya, looked at Manjushri, even the ten million bodhisattvas who are equal standing of Maitreya, they will not comprehend how Manjushri even place his steps when he walks. So there is this kind of very flowery at times, symbolic kind of account. But there is something that you might want to know. These are not just like a legend or some kind of a mystical stories, actually quite a profound symbolic teachings. Because what is the most important in the Buddha’s path, what is the most important. The most important is the wisdom. Without the wisdom as the Shantideva said, all the other path is like blind path. It is because of the wisdom all the other path also become valid such as generosity, discipline, diligence, all of this becomes a valid path because of the wisdom or if you have the wisdom. So obviously wisdom is considered the essential. And Manjushri actually represents or symbolize or if you like, is the embodiment of all the wisdom of the Buddhas, all the Buddhas. So it is because of this reason the symbolic Manjushri is very much venerated by Panditas, scholars, saints of the past, present and I am sure in the future. Even in Tibet there is a rush of tulkus that are claim that they are incarnations of Manjushri. Everybody likes to claim, quite a lot. Even more then, I don’t think I have heard any Tibetan lamas who claim there are Shakyamuni’s incarnation. But Manjushri incarnation they love it, this resume, or this CV, that tulkus like to have the CV of being a Manjushri’s incarnation or something to do with the Manjushri. Among many other bodhisattvas like Avalokiteshvara.
Daringness. And when we talk about the daringness we are not talking about daringness of like taking off your cloth and stuff like that. Fundamentally daringness to really face the nonduality. ??? this is how we say it in Tibetan. You know, daringness, courage to actually face and understand and conceive the idea of nonduality or emptiness. Many of us here we have heard many times the teachings on emptiness. You know there is a story, I think in the ???, Manjushri Sutra, the manifestations of Manjushri Sutra, that once Buddha taught shunyata and five hundred Arhats they died with heart attack. They understood but they couldn’t accept it, they understood by they couldn’t accept it. This actually tells us something. We have received so many emptiness teachings, we haven’t had even close to heart attack. So this actually means two things. Either you have understood nothing or you already have some kind of realization. Much more than the Arhats. So the real daringness has got to do with facing the nonduality.
Teachings on Tara, Deer Park 2010
Most of us, specially Asians, we are in a way very much obedient society. We have been so obedient with Mister Confucius, what is it, Kong Tse . So sad. I cannot understand why the ancient Chinese didn’t surrender to someone like Lao Tse. I think his wisdom is for me much more dynamic, free thinking. But then again I can understand because – like Buddhism, Buddhism can never be misused by political leader. Do you know why? No political leader can come up and say: “Hey you guys, better behave otherwise emptiness will punish you.” Like Christians and Muslims whatever all this, Confucius you know again, you better behave otherwise the ancestors will look up on you or the god will punish you and all that.
This question has been asked by myself to many lamas, whether there is any difference between atman and buddha nature. Very very difficult to answer this in one way. On the other hand, the Buddhist fundamental view of emptiness always helps. buddha nature is emptiness, emptiness is buddha nature. Emptiness is not other than the buddha nature and buddha nature is not other than the emptiness. That’s quote Heart Sutra. So basically buddha nature is not a phenomena. It is not a phenomenon. Whereas atman, the way the Upanishads talks about atman, it seems to be indicating that it is a phenomenon. And that maybe one of the biggest difference between the Hindu concept of atman the Buddhist concept of buddha nature. I will tell you, see, buddha nature is actually what we call dande. It is a result of elimination. You got it? Result of elimination. If you were to ask me: “How can you prove that buddha nature exist? Show me buddha nature.” Very difficult. Right? But there is something I can do and that is I can prove that defilements is destroyable. You got it? That ignorance is destroyable. Aggression, passion, ignorance, pride, jealousy, all these are destroyable. They are temporal. They are dependent. They are caused. They are conditioned. With effort we can destroy all of them. That I can prove. Easily. Let’s say you are an angry person. Right. Even without using the Buddhist method, somebody can pad you shoulder. Calm down. Calms down. So we know that anger is not a permanent entity. It is something that can be manipulated. It is something that can be destroyed. Now so I can prove that all these negative emotions can be destroyed absolutely. So what I am saying is I can proof the existence of absence of ignorance. And that proving, that absence of ignorance is presence of the buddha nature. Other than that, if you want me to show you buddha nature with light glowing from its head, six arms, eight legs. It doesn’t exist. And if it does exist then it becomes an entity and then it is very dangerous. Then Buddhist concept of buddha nature will become like a Christian concept of soul. See the Christians talk about saving the soul. Isn’t it? Save my soul, save his soul. You don’t save buddha nature. Buddha nature itself is a savior. It is the Buddha. Buddha cannot be saved. Two different thing.
Not only in Buddhism we try to represent main teachings of the Buddha through like figures such as Buddha and Bodhisattvas paintings. But we also use different other symbols. Specially in the Vajrayana. For instance, the symbol of triangle, the triangle shape, this is a very important medium again in the tantric Buddhism. A triangle, it is just a triangle, a simple triangle. Sometimes there will be double triangle which is called dharmakara. But the basic triangle is a very important symbol in the Vajrayana. This is a very important medium if you like. And the triangle is again – in some of the tantric practice, this triangle also represents dungeon This is quite interesting isn’t it, the dungeon. Somewhere it is almost like a torture chamber. Sometimes this triangle also represents source of everything, source of everything. Where all the universe came from. Okay. So now we want to know, what is this triangle? Where is it? In fact, some of the outer tantric teachings say the triangle exist beneath us. This is as far as they go, beneath us, under this earth. This is the outer teaching. But then if you really want to know what is triangle, the triangle is actually representation of what they call three doors. One triangle, it doesn’t matter which order, one triangle represents that everything is emptiness. The ground is emptiness, everything is extremeless. The second point of the triangle represents path, path should not have any mark. Path should not have any characteristic. The third triangle represents enlightenment or the result should never be aspired for. So this is actually the triangle. Okay ground is emptiness, the ground.The path should not have any characteristic – no I should say path should not be bound by characteristics. Result, the enlightenment, should not be something to aspire for. If you go this way then we are talking a very big subject. Of course we are talking about the emptiness. But also the second tip of the triangle that path should not be bound by characteristic. And this is very important, at the same time something that many Buddhist keep on forgetting. For instance, I mean Buddhism in the West is still relatively new, but in the East like China, Japan, Tibet, as much as we should really not forget this second triangle, we are always bound by the characteristic of the triangle, such as Yellow Hat Sect, Red Hat Sect. This is the way to do. Meditation should be only doing sitting up. Not sleeping. Meditation actually in fact, you know, like meditation is the only thing that the Buddhist do. You know something like that. These are all bound by characteristics. And then the result, enlightenment, is something that everybody wants. Remember. Buddhism, journey to the happiness, path to the happiness. What are we looking for? We are looking for happiness. This is a fundamentally – actually going wrong. If you, trying to look for happiness, using Buddhism is really a self contradiction actually. Buddhism is actually not really made for – first of all, when you are looking for happiness you are already looking for something so you are aspiring for something. So you are breaking that rule so to speak. So anyway, this is the triangle. Now I was telling you, many times in the tantric Buddhism this triangle is also called dungeon. Why dungeon? This is interesting. What they do in the tantric practice, they try to chase and summon and catch and, I don’t know, bind the ego and then put it inside this triangle. So you put the ego as a prisoner of emptiness, characteristicless and non-aspiration. What happens to the ego then? It becomes meaningless.
Form is emptiness, emptiness is form. When they, when the discussion concluded, when they say form is emptiness they are not saying that form doesn’t exist. It is not a negation. If the Buddha said form is emptiness then it is a blatent lie. Look there is form here, we can see, flowers, everything. It is therefore in the second line you hear emptiness is form. But as I said earlier this is not so easy to sort of comprehend in our ordinary language. I try to give you some very sort of ordinary example, it might help. Okay, going back to the form. See, when we look at somebody we see this somebody as very beautiful, desirable, something that you have always want. The conclusion of the assembly on the Vultures Peak is that if what you think is truly out there then everybody must see this person beautiful, desirable and all that. But as you know, sometimes when we look at a person, we see beautiful but many other people see this person as very ugly, not desirable, not even wanting to get close. Everything is like that. What we think truth, someone else thinks it is fake. What we think as valuable someone else thinks it is not valuable. What we think as a flower someone thinks it is a food. What we think as water someone else thinks as a home to swim inside and live inside. All the small insects in the water and the fish inside the water they don’t think it is a water. Now the dualistic people always want to make a decision. Somebody has to be right. So we invented system like democracy. Now imagine, we human beings and the fish try to vote. We human beings say this is water, all the animals living the water say this is home. We are going to lose right away. So, what is there? There is nothing called – this is where you have to understand form is emptiness and emptiness is form together. What Buddhists are saying is water is not truly there. Because fish sees this as a home. But home is not also truly there because we human beings see this as a water. So nothing exist truly, but everything exist relatively. No negation at all. We completely accept things exist relatively. But this is again, I am telling you, this is difficult.
Fundamental View of Buddhism, Moscow 2010
I am making up this a little bit so if it is wrong it is my mistake. I think in the process of practicing the Dharma there is two challenges. One is Buddhist view and mediation is very difficult. Really really difficult to understand. Like emptiness, so difficult to understand. That is one challenge. The philosophy, so difficult. Our habit is so strong, so stubborn. To understand and appreciate the logic of emptiness. To begin it is difficult. Even so you have a little glimpse of the logic, logical reason why, I can sort of see why everything is emptiness, old habit always comes back and you forget that knowledge. That is one challenge. Second challenge is even more difficult. And the second challenge why is it difficult is because ultimate teachings like the nature of the mind is too simple. Very very simple. Too simple to understand. So in Buddhism, two problems, two challenge. One is very difficult. That is why it is difficult. The other one is too simple. That is why it is difficult. Two difficulties. The difficult one – which one is worse? Actually the simpler one is worse. Because the difficult one, you can read. Madhyamika, you can really ask the Khenpos and really contemplate, you can exercise. The other one, the simple one, logic doesn’t work. No matter how much books you read. Really doesn’t work. So what can you do? Other one needs merit. The first one needs a bit of a hard working, diligence and all of that. The second one you need merit, only through that. Reading books is not going to help much. Asking a lot of questions is not going to help much. Receiving lots of teachings is not going to help much. You need merit. With merit you will get it. This is really difficult. So this is why hearing and contemplation is not good enough. You need merit. Although you can say, with the right motivation again, hearing and contemplation can be turned into merit making method. Of course, that is very possible. So to awaken from this delusion, this confusion, you need to do the hearing, contemplation, meditation and also you need merit. You really need to accumulate merit so that you can use the circumstances as a method or a means to enlighten yourself. I don’t know whether this is understandable for you.
In a way, from the very high, highest level, if you think everything is emptiness, not good. You are grasping, you are altering, you are posing. Even as you thinking everything is emptiness, everything disappeared, like that. And actually thinking everything disappeared is really not good. That is not emptiness meditation at all. That actually is condemned by Chandrakirti, ???, like basically emptiness is not like a bulldozer. That you use emptiness to dismantle the house, dismantle the table, dismantle everything what you have. And then think, now everything is gone, everything is emptiness. That is never the case because that is nihilism. That is like really nihilistic, negative altering. Negative fabricating.
If you can apply the emptiness in the notion of the renunciation, then the renunciation becomes complete.
As Nagarjuna said: “Those who can accept emptiness, everything is acceptable.” With this philosophy, with this as a view, there is nothing, not a single thing that cannot be offered on this earth. Everything. Because every single thing that you can think of, their true nature or the essence is nothing other then the emptiness. There is no such thing as “this is really something dirty, that cannot be offered”. Like a, I don’t know, used tissue or something like that. Or this is a gold or silver, we can make offering of that. There is no difference like that, first of all, from the ultimate point of view. Also from the relative point of view, Buddha has no preference. First of all we make these offerings not to please them but to accumulate merit. So as you chant this Dharani, or the short Mantra, please think that everything has become offering substances. And not only everything has become offering substance, be creative, like the one lamp has become billions and billions of lamps. One incense has become billions and billions of incense. And then all kind of offerings for the Arhats. For those who are Bikshus and Bikshunis we offer them robes, alms. For the lay or lay Bodhisattvas, or also the Buddhas in the form of sambhogakaya we offer them ear rings, nose rings and by all means, yes, Ipods, Cadillac. I usually think of Saks Fifth Avenue, ???. Things like that, whatever I think is nice. We all have a different thinking. So please thinking we are offering this we recite this maybe three times.