Seeing the truth is so important in the Buddhist path. Seeing the fake as fake is very important. That is the quintessential. And this is what is meant by vipassana. Seeing, the insight. Or in the Tibetan we call it lhatong, meaning seeing something extra. Right now what we see, we see the one that’s, you know, all the painted version, the camouflage. The window dressing. One that is sooner or later going to disappoint you. So what we need to do is to see the truth. Seeing the truth is what we call wisdom. And that is the most important blessing of the Buddha. Seeing the truth is also none other than so called mahakaruna, compassion, sort of loosely. Seeing the truth is also itself the power. Flying, all these kind of things, clairvoyance, all those are not real power. The real power is seeing the truth. And that, seeing the truth, is what eighty four thousand Buddha’s teaching are trying to achieve. And that is what did Buddha try to lure people, eighty four thousand and more ways. For some he leads, he points to the truth nakedly. For others, he brings them close to the truth, points to another direction and makes sure that he ends up seeing the truth. Now you know that seeing the truth is crucial, to get rid of the fundamental root of suffering.
If you lose that magic of non-duality of wisdom and method, the truth and non-truth, illusion and reality, the inseparability of illusion and reality, if you lose that, mere practice of doing the right thing will just become a burden. It actually becomes a big problem. A moral problem. It becomes really – when the morality becomes the cause of a problem it becomes such a biggest problem. I mean, can’t you see, almost eighty percent of the world’s problems is a religious problem. This is the right thing to do. This is the only way to do.
The concept of the guru is very complicated. Guru always gets misunderstood as master. I don’t know whether master is guru. We don’t know yet. I don’t think so. Most probably not. Because – I don’t know – sometimes the master seems to have a connotation of learned one. So it comes within the context of education, accomplished being, from the more education point of view. Guru is not necessarily like that. As I said guru is a very complex – but I think this might help. Guru is not limited as the master but guru is the path also. Guru is everything. Guru is the breath. The color of this grape. The spaciousness of this room. But again, as I speak like this, there is a danger to categorize guru as “e v e r y t h i n g” which is like very abstract. So in this way guru is also personalized. So anyway, in the Mahayana, and specially in the Vajrayana tradition guru is probably the most important method. You know we were talking about the wisdom and the method. Method. Probably the supreme most method.
In buddhism, morality is secondary. Wisdom is primary. Shantideva said: a morality without the wisdom is a pain in the neck. It is. It actually makes you hypocritical, it makes you judgmental, it makes you puritanical, so on and so forth.
The flower that I see you will never see. So we cannot share real flower. We can just pretend that we are sharing and that is so lonely. I can never share with you what I am experiencing. It is just so lonely. What I am experiencing only I can do it. Now if you are a buddhist, loneliness is dawn of wisdom, you are supposed to invest on this loneliness. If you are lonely, you are feeling awkward with this samsaric life. You can sense it’s not working. You can kind of feel that its all a little bit, what you call it, over promising, you know, sort of. So you can feel this. So this feeling awkward, feeling not belong to this, is actually a very important mental factor that a practitioner is supposed to invest.
Just to qualify, I want to give you some of these seemingly more academical but might help your practice also. The last two point ??, and ??, these two are unique hallmark of a mahayana teaching actually. See, mahayana teaching, generally all other teachings but specially mahayana teachings, in order to qualify mahayana teachings, it really should have the equal, it should put equal importance to what we call ?..?, the upaya, the skillful means and the wisdom. Mahayana path has to equally put emphasize on skillful means and wisdom, indicating if you are not a mahayana practitioner you can afford to pay more attention to the wisdom because all your aim is to get rid of the samsara, you don’t want to go back to the samsara, and that actually can happen or can be done with emphasize on the wisdom. But what makes mahayana a mahayana is equal importance to skillful means and the wisdom. Because mahayana has altogether different agenda. In fact in many mahayana liturgy, we say ?..?, for instance, ??, it is such a beautiful word, like just by remembering you, the buddha, dharma, and sangha, you dispel the fear of samsara and nirvana.
Of course common sense is a good thing. It is very practical. Some of you have heard this, I think this is true account actually. Few years ago, you see the common sense, the common, when you have so much common sense the culture that cherishes common sense has hard time understanding the concept of non-duality.
Few years ago in India, there was so many problems of rats. You know in Delhi. I read it somewhere, I think it is true and even it is not true it has some significance to this story so I will tell you. So many rats. So the government in Delhi decided to have a rat police. Several hundred of them just to basically kill or eliminate rats. Two years, I think, after two years or something like that, they only caught two rats. Of course immediately our reaction is: oh the Indians, completely inefficient, they are just like chaotic and all of that. But to me it is so beautiful story because to the Indians mouse or the rat is a ride of god Ganesh. It is a wealth deities ride. You don’t want to kill a wealth deity. And the mind that can actually chew and digest the complexity of a big elephant riding a small rat shows that there is a culture or some kind of condition to really appreciate the non-duality. Everything works, okay, monkey god, god with the six arms, god with the thousand arms, no problem. God does not necessary has to have a halo. God can be anything that is hideous looking like a Kali.
Although it is changing unfortunately I always look up to India and Indians. I also admire Indians for having really no common sense at all. But these people have lot of wisdom. But unfortunately it is changing. It is really sad to see these amazing looking airports springing up like in Delhi. Really just so like air condition, polished, everything. Cows walking on the street – to me this is one of those last remaining sign of a culture that used to appreciate wisdom more than the common sense. I don’t know whether this actually ever make any sense to you. Basically I am talking about a spiritual path. A spiritual path must really transcend the common sense. If you want to call spiritual path a common sensical thing, then it has to be a transcendental common sense. It cannot be the usual worldly common sense.
This is my own interpretation, my own discursive thoughts which I like to share with you. There is something called wisdom and there is something called common sense. World in general and specially, particularly the countries that used to really cherish the wisdom, they are beginning to opt common sense rather than the wisdom. Buddha was an agent of the wisdom. I think some of you buddhist may not agree but there are people like Mahavira, Shankaracharya, they are great agent of wisdom. They really promoted wisdom. And I think even in China there are people like Lao Tze, there are I think the agent of wisdom. But at the same time we also have agent of common sense. Like in China there is Confucius. They are agent of common sense.
The three types of teachings taught to three types of vessels are briefly:
Teachings or the practice that involves abandoning the ten non virtuous actions, applying the ten virtuous actions or thoughts for the sake of next life, better life in the future. And then next life, better life. That is basically what we call teaching taught to the ??? . ???, I don’t know if we should call it lesser. Okay for the time being let’s call it lesser capacity vessels.
For the greater vessels, the teachings and the practice that involves basically ???, or the three kinds of discipline. Which is the discipline of discipline, ???, or the practice of the discipline. Practice of meditation and practice of wisdom. These are generally recommended to those who are greater vessels.
For the greatest vessel, among many other teachings, the practice and the teaching of bodhicitta mind, six paramitas and so on and so forth is emphasized.
Now here one thing we need to note it down is that all three types of teachings taught to three types of vessels are definitely not interested in this life. It has to be something to do beyond this life.
In order for us to achieve enlightenment, what do we need? We need insight, wisdom, basically we need to recognize, understand or realize the truth. Which is according to the buddha dharma – which can be achieved by understanding the selflessness of phenomena and the selflessness of a person, or an ego, or self. That kind of insight wisdom can only be established if you have a steady, or a stable, unwavering, unshakable foundation of shamata or shine, calm abiding. I don’t know how you translate that. Basically that is what you need to achieve, you need to establish the shine. You have to really make, shine or shamata is basically to make your mind moldable, workable.
Recently when His Holiness the Dalai Lama was giving teaching in – I think it was in France, I heard this – he was giving teachings on Bodhicaryavatara. And I believe that what he did, he taught the ninth chapter first. Usually the ninth chapter is what all the eight chapter sort of gears towards. You begin with the first chapter, you arrange, you prepare. Then finally you teach the ninth chapter. There is the tenth chapter of course which is the dedication. And I believe that His Holiness the Dalai Lama said that there is a tradition according to the Nagarjuna that sometimes the view is taught first. And I think I am going to use a little bit of that tactic here because, first of all I am assuming that we are all smart people. And critical. You should be, of course. And the reason why I am telling you about the smart people or not is this. Because, you know, I can’t go and talk to any Tom, Dick, Harry and say: “Oh you know, you should not have attachment to your life.” Because, if you already born as a Buddhist, you already have in your past life inclination towards the Dharma practice, of course, then it is okay. But for most of us critical, modern, Guardian reading, Observer reading, critical thinkers, you know if somebody tells you: “Oh you shouldn’t have attachment to this life.” Of course, the obvious answer is: “Why not?” And of course you can’t really talk to them about the hell realms, hungry ghost realms, all of this. Because, where is hell? You don’t have to buy there is hell. And also, in the modern world, we have a problem with things like reincarnation. You can’t really talk like, you should not have attachment to this life, you should be practicing the Dharma. Because you have to help sentient beings. Why? Because they are our mother in the past. This also doesn’t work. Specially the modern people. Why should we have compassion to our mother? This works a little bit to the Buddhist, already Buddhist audience. Like traditionally Buddhist society, maybe it works. Specially now, even in Asia, the modern thinking is – and there is a good reason for that. You know, many kids that I know, they would say: Why should we love our mother? My father and mother, they just wanted to have sex, and they had sex, and then I came out. And they did not even want me. They never wanted me. I was very much abandoned. They never looked after me. They actually have lots of anger. So this mother sentient beings doesn’t really work. So in order to teach: “Why should we not have attachment to this life?” This ??? khorwa, this samsara. I think it is important that we talk about the last hallmark, which is: “If you have a grasping, you have no view.” If we blend this again and again, we will visit there, we will visit to the fourth – of course we will talk about all – but we should visit to the fourth one sometimes. Maybe it will help us.
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.
Now one thing I need to clarify. It is important to know, that as Buddhism traveled to different parts of the world, in different times, of course different culture and different tradition and different habit has always been used as a vehicle to teach the Buddhadharma. That is the only way, we human beings must have a culture, otherwise we cannot even communicate. And many times Buddha himself, skillfully, with great compassion used those culture as a means to interpret, convey the wisdom. But you see the thing is many of these traditions, cultures, habits, have now unfortunately I would say, unfortunately they have become virtually synonymous to Buddhism. And this is one big – this is something that we have to watch out. So some of us when we have this fear that maybe we need to change Buddhism to suit American mind, Danish mind, I don’t know Nepalese mind. Probably we are talking about needing to change the culture and the tradition and the method of delivering the Buddhadharma. And that from my point of view is perfectly fine. Because what we need to project is the Buddha’s wisdom and not the Japanese ism or the Tibetan ism or that culturally oriented method.
Buddhism beyond boundaries and time, Nepal 2007
Now for the ultimate bodhicitta. Now ultimate bodhicitta is you know, we were talking yesterday, in Buddhism wisdom should be emphasized. Wisdom is above everything. That is very much what we are saying when we are talking about ultimate bodhicitta. There is a relative bodhicitta which is the wish to enlighten all the sentient beings. Not just giving them some food or drinks. Not just save them from temporary suffering. But really take them to the enlightenment. But the ultimate bodhicitta is absolutely necessary. Without the ultimate bodhicitta then relative bodhicitta will not work. Just now as I walked in someone asked me a related question which is good so I can explain to you now. See a bodhisattva, when he or she is helping sentient beings, this bodhisattva with the understand of relative and ultimate bodhicitta. Both. When we are talking about ultimate bodhicitta we are saying everything is emptiness, everything is just your perception, nothing exist externally. This information is so important. Remember we talked about the doctor yesterday, the doctor. Maybe not here, somewhere else, my mind has become like a ?jelly, so I don’t remember anything. See a psychiatrist, trying to help a crazy person, for this non bodhisattva psychiatrist, okay, psychiatrist that is not a bodhisattva or maybe a small time bodhisattva but not a bodhisattva who understands ultimate truth. This psychiatrist, the way he or she works with this crazy person is like this. As a psychiatrist, you develop a goal, saying: “Okay this man is crazy, this man is abnormal, I have to make him normal.” So I am just giving a very general example. And you develop a notion called normality. Through what? Through the books, through the educations, you know, coming from Mister Freud. Mister Freud has caused more problems than help sometimes. Mister Freud has designed a so called normalcy, normality. Every psychiatrist believes that that’s normality. And then the psychiatrist is helping and trying so hard to make this abnormal person, so called abnormal person, to reach to this normality. When in fact this person should be normal but normal in here. And different kind of normality. But the psychiatrist doesn’t accept this kind of normality because it was never written in the book. This wasn’t part of your degree in your university. And this was after all not taught by Mister Freud or Jung. So you end up making a normal person abnormal most of the time. And do you know why? Because most of this people think so called normalcy does exist truly. So called disease does exist truly. Whereas a bodhisattva who understands ultimate truth, for him or her so called normality and abnormality are all interdependent. There is no such thing as truly existing normality, truly existing abnormality. The only thing that is real peace is going beyond normality and abnormality which is the enlightenment. So that is sort a really general example of ultimate bodhicitta. And this ultimate bodhicitta must accompany with everything, even like lightening a lamp, candle.
Right and wrong. Last night I was somewhere, discussing about this. And I think it is quite important. In Buddhism, it is really important, that you place wisdom above all. Wisdom is the most important. Like Shantideva said, just beginning of the ninth chapter, he said: “All the other branches of the bodhisattva activities are taught so that the bodhisattva can apply the wisdom.” Wisdom is the most important. And I tell you this because at times, when we talk about the religion, immediately our human mind talks about ethics. I have been asked many times, you know sometimes I am flying in the plane, and they know that I am kind of a religious person. So they ask: “What are you? Are you a Muslim or a Buddhist or what?” Then I say that I am Buddhist. Then the immediate question is: “So as a Buddhist you can’t eat meat isn’t it.” You understand. That is how they define a religion. Immediately a religion is measured by what you can do, what is wrong to do, and what is right to do and all that. I think it is true with many other religion but it is not true with Buddhism. In Buddhism you cannot define Buddhism because of its ethic. Not at all. I will tell you one thing. Why? Because if you define Buddhism based on ethic, then Buddhism will contradict itself too much. In the Vinaya Sutra for instance Buddha said: “Whatever is offered must eat.” The monks they must eat this. So meat is offered they eat meat. In the Mahayana, Buddha said: “The bodhisattva should never eat meat.” Mahayana should never eat meat. He emphasized this. See it is a contradiction. There is many like that. Many many contradictions like that. In the Vinaya, a person must hold the pratimoksha vow – pratimoksha vow such as bikshu or bikshuni – a vow as you protect your life. You must really, the vow is the most important. Where as in the Mahayana, if it is going to benefit the sentient beings, you can kill, you can lie, you can slender, you can say bad things. Basically you can do except the three non virtues action of mind, a bodhisattva can do anything. See it is a contradiction. So right and wrong is a very ethical term. Ethic. It is a very ethic and morality oriented question. Okay. So now when we talk about snang sum the triple perception or the triple vision, we use word like impure perception. Now this judgment of impure is not moral or ethical. The impure is nothing to do with because Buddha said this is impure. You understand. So now the question is how do we judge what is wrong and what is right. Or what is impure and what is pure. We judge with the object’s, the manifestation of the object. Okay. We look, we experience something. We have a perception. This perception, when we experience, first of all it doesn’t last. It’s impermanent. It’s impermanent. Secondly, it’s interdependent. Thirdly it has no truly existing nature, truly existing entity. So what you see is like a mirage. It has no essence, it does not last. It is no permanent. And this is what is defined as impure. It is not a moral thing.
Jetsun Rinpoche Drakpa Gyaltsen says that all we do is just prepare, set up for the next one, next event. This morning we are setting up and preparing for this afternoon. This afternoon we are preparing and setting up for this evening. This evening we preparing and setting up for the next morning. This goes on and on and on. So the aim of the preparation just never occurs. All we do is prepare and prepare. Why? Because grasping, story, getting entangled with the story, getting caught by the story, and you get emotionally involved of course, all of that. That is why we have to cultivate this wisdom.
Dualistic mind pokes, alters, fabricates, generates, labels. Of course then, once you do that, you then cling, grasp. Then all the attachment begins. So actually, the prajnaparamita or wisdom, wisdom mind is the mind that is not fabricated, that is not posed, that is not altered. That is totally in its natural state, as it is. This, when you have that wealth, when you are endowed with that wealth completely, then you are referred as the Buddha. Even as you are approaching to acquire this wealth, maybe in smaller amount, smaller dosage, but you are accumulating this wealth of being natural, then you referred as a yogi or yogini. Someone who is trying to cultivate this wealth of being natural.