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
Okay now all the things that I was telling you about refuge are much more on a philosophical and theoretical level. When it comes down to the practice of course, unless you are very very immersed with the theory it is very difficult to always remind ourselves as somebody was telling me, death, impermanence, buddha nature. All of that is going to be difficult. For that we have all kinds of different methods. We have methods of visualization, we have methods of, other forms of, even the mindfulness practice such as shamata, vipassana, which is becoming kind of popular nowadays. Maybe not the actual vipassana but some form of mindfulness is becoming popular which I think is very good, taking refuge to the path of mindfulness because it is, you know, to be mindful is what mind is capable of. No other substance or entity or phenomena can do it to the mind. Only mind can be aware of itself. And this is what, we can do this. This is not a myth is not a mystery, it is very much doable, even now, you just did it. You can just do it, just look at your mind. And of course you would say I didn’t find anything, fantastic. That is what we want hear. And that is what we want you to experience. But then at the same time, second fantastic thing is, but you know I didn’t find but then you noticed something still bothering me, something still going up and down. Even more fantastic. Because now you are realizing the nonduality of emptiness and clarity. Mind is, if you look at it, you don’t find anything, but who is it that is doing the non finding thing. It is the mind. Mind is finding there is no mind. There we go, that is just amazing. And we all know that mind, without the mind, everything what we have is useless. It is because of mind we can taste our food, it is because of our mind we can feel sad, we can improve, we can forget, we can remember. Without the mind we are like a piece of wood.
All of us we wish to, we don’t wish to suffer, we don’t want to be trapped. All of us we wish to be happy, content, happy. All of us we are looking for satisfaction. And happiness has many definition but according to the Buddhadharma it is the liberation, the freedom. Freedom from everything. Freedom from all kind of ties, all kinds of bondage. Freedom from ignorance. Freedom from these defilements. All the way to freedom from even as subtle as freedom from knowing. Knowing is a bondage. Knowing, to know something, goodness, that is already a big chain. Having known something, that is just so painful isn’t it because you know something. This is why, especially in the Tantrayana. It is a bit like this, in order to really be the vessel of the Buddhadharma, you have to be you know is – okay, we are talking about liberation. There are two ways to liberate oneself. To know everything and to know nothing. Knowing nothing is much more difficult, for us, for you and me, because unfortunately we know something. And this knowing is going to really breathe hard above you, constantly because you know something. Yes so liberation from everything, liberation from all kinds of bondage, all kinds of knots. Even the knowing. Classic traditional Buddhist term is dualistic mind. Just basically knowing something is a bondage. And from this we need to liberate ourselves from this. It doesn’t mean, I am not saying that we all have to become vegetables. Even if you want it is not possible. Unfortunately we have so called mind. That is the problem. Even you can get rid of the mind, then that will ease our path. But that is not going to happen. So liberation from all kinds is necessary. And for that the only way for people like you and me is by relying on a system. And this is the challenge of Buddhism actually.
I think we have to be careful here that so called mindfulness that people seem to have some kind of a love affair with at the moment, this mindfulness don’t hijack vipassana. Because vipassana again is back to nonduality. Without the nonduality there is no vipassana. And actually vipassana is so important, really. The discipline of vipassana doing nothing, that is really bringing you quite close, really quite close to the nonduality. Just observing, because that is all you can do right now. After a while, you know, after a while when your vipassana develops and when it matures, you have to even transcend the practice of just observing. That you have to. But right now, for most of us, we don’t know what that means.
Nonduality is so precious. Without the nonduality there is no communication. I am not talking about the spiritual communication. Even here, if I say do you want to have a glass of water, even this you will not hear. Even this, do you want to have a glass of water, you will not hear, you will not know how to interpret, you will not know how to understand, you will not know how to misunderstand, you will not know how to misinterpret. All of this exist, all of this abundance of, the door to all this interpretation exist thanks to nonduality. And by the way, don’t think the nonduality is some kind of an energy, don’t fall back to that. It is purely, the best word is nonduality.
The gift of nonduality. Actually, let me tell you this. Gendun Choepel said, you know, maybe it is a little intellectual but. Negating an existing, negation of an existence is not so difficult. I mean it’s quite difficult of course. But what is more difficult is negation of nonexistence. That is so difficult. So the gift of nonduality, Shakyamuni Buddha’s gift to this earth, if you can only think about this, wow, this is the most valuable gift. And it is not just like a, some really stimulating philosophical concept that you can read and sort of get sort of satisfaction intellectual. No no. It is very practical, very practical. This is why Shakyamuni said in the Heart Sutra, Tayata Om Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Soha. And then he said this mantra is good for that that that including headache, toothache, everything. Remember in the Heart Sutra this mantra you should chant it is good for this, good for that. And yes of course people take it very literal, oh I have a toothache let’s chant TAYATA OM GATE GATE PARAGATE PARASAMGATE BODHI SOHA. Of course fine, no problem. But if you really contemplate OM GATE GATE PARAGATE PARASAMGATE BODHI SOHA, at the least in the beginning, because you are now beginning to have a little glimpse of nonduality, you will learn not to make a big deal out of your toothache. And that’s already a release from the toothache. The actual toothache is actual this big. It is the all the paraphernalia of surrounding the toothache. But beyond that I think it is almost, almost what you call it difficult for us to comprehend. I will tell you why. Because you know these great nondual philosophers such as Chandrakirti. He was not just like an university professor who read a lot, who thought a lot about the nonduality and who really are very impressive in talking about it. He was someone who actually, when it was necessary, milked a painted cow and fed the milk from the painted cow. Now we are talking about understanding the nonduality. Because in our head, painted cow how it can be milked. See we are stuck with that. Remember, a partial education, painted cow, impossible. For a Chandrakirti, the very idea of milking an actual cow, if that is possible, it is very possible to milk a painted cow. I come to think of it. How did this even occurred in our head, milking a real cow. I mean real just because I have to tell you as a real. For the Chandrakirti no difference. But this is difficult, this is very difficult to understand by people like you and me. Very difficult. Why? As the great Longchenpa said, for someone who has never tasted a salt, how do we tell them how the salt tastes like. We can only do things like give them a little bit of sugar and say: This is not it. A little bit of chilli, this is not it. That is all we could do. And that is what we are doing right now. That is what we are doing when we read the Sutras like Heart Sutra. Oh no nose, no eyes, no this, no that, that is the best we could do. And Buddha did so many times, remember I was telling you, Vajracchedika Sutra. He folded his robes, he washed his begging bowl, he sat very straight, and then he taught and taught and taught and towards the end of the teaching he said I have never taught. Very confusing. You talk forty pages and now you are telling us you have never taught. What do you mean?
Because these two questions are very important. What is bodhicitta and is Buddhism moralistic path? Yes it is a moralistic path but the morality of Buddhism has to accompany with the nonduality. If we loose the nonduality it will become a puritanical path. And that we have too many. Why have Buddhism, it is an extra burden. Very important not to forget the nonduality aspect. For bodhicitta also. For love and compassion. For tolerance. For anything you do actually. For to develop or to actually have a so called spiritual path you need to have this. Because if you don’t have the nonduality, if you don’t have the nonduality and if you are following a spiritual path that means that you are still attached to a concept called purpose and usefulness. And that is not good. If you want to be useful, if fundamentally, if you want to be useful, not so good. Not so good. You have to really learn to be completely useless. So important. This. And manage to actually rule the whole nation. You have to have that. To become useless does not mean you become, what you call it, bum. Not at all. Because bum is very useful. To become a bum is very useful. That is specially in a kind of socialist country like England very useful. You know, people will take care of you and government will pay the bills, stuff like that. And you can make some liberal, woolly headed remarks time to time. You can pride yourself, very useful.
My answer to what is really bodhicitta. Bodhicitta is, put it very simply, bodhicitta is a wish – if you ask this question, what is bodhicitta, usually the answer is this wish and practice to enlighten all the sentient beings. But the word enlightenment has the connotation of nonduality. Because when we talk about enlightenment, enlightenment meaning awakened from something. Awakened from what? Awakened from a sleep, a deep sleep. And what is that sleep? What is that ignorance? It is non other than the dualism. So all the Buddhist practice, generosity, morality, including exotic methods in the Vajrayana, Tantrayana, such as visualization, all of this must be accompanied by the wisdom of nonduality.
And also I think generally when people talk about religion, and religious practices, we do tend to talk about love, compassion, forgiveness. So somehow, and also in the west, of course many western religion like Christianity does seem to have all these elements. So immediately, when we talk about the bodhicitta, people tend to think bodhicitta is something to do with love and compassion, kindness. Of course, I am not saying that that is wrong. But this is not the end of the bodhicitta. In fact a big part of the bodhicitta is the nonduality. If you loose the nonduality aspect of the bodhicitta, actually if we loose the nonduality we have lost 99.99 aspect of the bodhicitta. We have lost. We may have a little bit of that smiling, touchy feeling kind of, I don’t know, do the right thing kind of bodhicitta. But yes, if we don’t have the nonduality, then we have lost big portion, really the biggest portion of the bodhicitta. And this is backed by lots of Sutras and Shastras. One of the Shastra that I am sure many of you have read such as Shantideva’s Bodhicharyavatara, right at the beginning of the ninth chapter Shantideva said: All these practices of the Bodhisattva practices such as discipline, mindfulness, meditation, vigilance, generosity, one pointed concentration, all of these are nothing, they are really nothing if it is not accompanied, or if it is not grounded to the prajna or the wisdom. But this is difficult as I was saying earlier. This is very difficult because, specially the nonduality as I am repeating again and again, it is not something that we can discuss, talk, demonstrate. The best we could do is to say a few words about it. Even though it is the most important part it is very difficult to express. So emotionally every time when we tempt to practice the bodhicitta we always end up holding on to the relative aspect of the bodhicitta which is usually love and compassion, all of that.
There are many different methods of discipline in Buddhism. Myriad in fact. One method, or the morality or discipline that is prescribed in one particular teaching almost contradicts with another morality or method or discipline in other Buddha’s teachings. For instance, you know this is actually why ordinary people not knowing the ultimate aspect or nonduality there is so many misunderstandings. For instance like if you go to traditional Buddhist societies or countries like Thailand or Sri Lanka. There the monks would eat meat. It is not because they are allowed to eat meat but they are supposed to eat whatever is given or offered on that day. But then again if you go to places like Japan or China, the Mahayana practitioners, for them the discipline is no meat at all. So there is already some kind of a contradiction within the Buddhist discipline. There is so many of that. What is allowed to one person is not allowed for others. And then for Tantrayana practitioners, many people seem to have misconception that tantric people are allowed to doing lots of things that are not allowed to others which is not true. There is never an allowance, there is never – to be more precise, there is no, it’s like methods or the disciplines such as shaving hair in Buddhism for the monks is purely a skillful means. So in other words what I am saying is again, nonduality have to take the precedence, or nonduality is more important than shaving hair or not shaving. It is to understand the nonduality, it is to actualize the nonduality the discipline such as like monks vow or nuns precept vows are applied. Purely to understand the nonduality. See if, again, if we loose the nonduality and if Buddhism really puts an importance to the morality then it will become very dangerous. Because then a value of a practitioner will be judged by who is morally good and right. And this is very dangerous because many times we know that morally somebody could be – of course we are using a very big language, morality. Somebody could be very good with the morality but they may have no compassion, they may have no understanding of the truth. And because there is no understanding of the truth, and because of that there is no compassion. The morality actually becomes a pillar for our pride and arrogance. So the whole purpose of morality is again defeated.
Even the most seasoned Dharma practitioner in the west, sometimes I do have doubt how much they are really understanding. Of course we are not talking about an actual realization of nonduality but we are talking about intellectual understanding of nonduality. Because the concept is just not provable. Because every logic, language, method of measurement is dualistic. So dualistic method cannot measure and value something nondualistic obviously. And anything that cannot be proved or anything that does not have a manufacturing date so to speak I think in the materialistic world, modern world, it is all not really, it is a story, basically it is as a story, it really doesn’t have much value in it.
If we don’t talk about nonduality then I don’t think we can really talk about Buddhism at all. But nonduality is not so easy. Recently I was talking to Indians, Indian intellectuals. And I was even kind of worried that how much we Tibetans actually managed to conceive the idea of nonduality thoroughly as much as these Indians seem to have done. It is not that easy this nonduality to really conceive this. Specially if you are, if you think like, I think, Karl Popper’s way. And if you really think that something can be observed and valued objectively. Nonduality is difficult.
I think the reason why Buddhist did not encourage the Buddha figure has got nothing to do with the Buddha is so holy and divine that human beings should not or dare not come their own limited idea of the Buddha’s figure. I don’t think it is because of that. Because ultimately, especially in the Mahayana Buddhism, if you read Diamond Sutra, popularly known as the Diamond Sutra, Vajracchedikā Sutra, Buddha clearly stated how the form of the Buddha is non existent. And not only the form, even the teaching he even asked his disciple, have I, has the Buddha taught? And when the disciple said, no, the Buddha never taught, then Buddha himself praised the student saying: That’s the right answer, this is it. Buddha never taught. So ultimately nonduality, the wisdom of nonduality is utmost important. And to express that nonduality cannot be expressed, cannot be represented, cannot be symbolized, I think in the early part especially the figure of the Buddha was not so much encouraged. But as the time goes by, of course the human mind is becoming more busy, beginning to rely more and more on symbols, then of course there is a lot of Buddhist figures, Bodhisattva figures. But I would still say they are symbolic and they are representing the Buddha’s figure, not really reproducing so to speak, they are representing the Buddha’s figure, but not really reproducing the Buddha’s figure.
When we talk about the spiritual path, from the worldly point of view it is never profitable. But that is the beauty of the spiritual path. You know in India, sometimes when we travel by train, hours, ten, twelve, twenty hours, and in the middle of nowhere somebody has build a gate. That’s good. Because that is like a poetry. You know that is like – because right now the materialistic world is all to do with the profit. And they think it is for profit but actually it is more a stress. This gate is, you know usually the gate is to enter, but this is in the middle of nowhere, it is not really entering ?where. So from the profit oriented thinking, that gate is useless. But several hundred years ago, those who have build that, for them it is an act of devotion, it is such an amazing spiritual experience. From the worldly point of view, nonduality is useless. In fact if the nonduality becomes stronger, market will collapse. Big economic problems. More dualistic the better for economy. In order to achieve the nonduality we also do nonduality practice such as just sitting. Acts such as, acts seemingly totally useless like just sitting for ten minutes, like that gate, is something so precious. To do something useless for ten minutes is so so precious. And this is something that those who a spiritually interested in the Buddhist path, you must try to have some kind of openness to this. To become useless, and to do useless things. And as a Buddhist I pray that you will all have this kind of wish.
Fundamental View of Buddhism, Moscow 2010
Buddhist philosophy is a bit like – it has to have the effect of pulling the rug under your feet. Because if the Buddhist path agrees with your emotional expectations and conventional expectations – not good. Might as well get a good job as a banker or something. Morality, ethic, all of this is just a pain. The habit of dualism is so strong, that even a little bit of information about nonduality, even it confuses you, I think it is a good start.
This nonduality, when we forget this, and we do forget this nonduality. And the reason why we forget this nonduality is several. Of course the biggest one is the habit. But this habit is created by one function. This dualistic does have a function. Because it gives a function, then we think it truly exists. This is one reason why we forget that things are not there. And also, to the certain extend, dualistic phenomena has a certain logic and order. For instance, only when you look at the mirror, only your face comes. Not like a fruit or a flower. So, this doesn’t only happen one day or two day. It has always happen, every time you look at the mirror, your face appears. So duration, duration, because it has been happening long long time. And then consensus. Everybody kind of agrees to the similar thing. All of this makes us forget nonduality and our clinging to dualistic phenomena becomes big. And remember what happens, if there is a dualistic mind, if there is a dualistic distinction, then you have mother of all the problems.
There is a question regarding: “If you have attachment to this life you are not a Dharma practitioner” and then therefore how about things like Long Life Initiation and Maratika, the concept of visiting to this Guru Rinpoche place called Maratika where Guru Padmasambhava attained the deathless body. Should we be wishing for that, sort of immortal state and all that?
In the tantric – you know Tantra is so vast. If you think Buddhism, specially Mahayana Buddhism is so vast, it is nothing compared to the Tantra. Tantra is very very very vast. Tantra is not just a ritual and all that. Tantra has its own world. Tantra is a whole civilization. Yes in the tantric practices there are things like long life pills, tse-ril, long life initiation, long life deities. But it is important that we know that ???, deathless lotus born, this deathless has something to do with, again, the nonduality. When you actualize the nonduality there is nobody dying, there is no death. You have gone beyond the time. And therefore, you have gone beyond the – how should I put it – you have gone beyond the unnecessary details such as birth and death and old age and sickness. These are details, you know, details that manifest in the impure perception. But, having said all this, as an effect, as an effect of the tendrel, again it is a depending arising. As a tendrel – the Tibetan usage of the word tendrel is sometimes it is referred to something auspicious, which is kind of sweet, but fundamentally what it means is creating the right cause and condition. So when you approach to the nondual, deathless, as an effect, as you approach, there is also – you know in the Tantra they talk about the supreme attainment and the common attainment. As a common attainment, yes, you will also have the fruit of actually long life.