THE FIVE FOLD PATH OF MAHAMUDRA
Teaching by Ven. Garchen Rinpoche
In Zagreb, 2007 organized by 'Padmasana'
When we have taken birth in this human world then itís a very fortunate occasion. Actually having taken birth, when we have access to the authentic information that the Buddha gave for liberation then we really have a chance that has eight freedoms and the ten types of richness (endowments). As a mater of fact† whether sentient beings have a physical form or are without a physical form, we all wish only to attain happiness and avoid suffering. The problem is that while we want to achieve happiness, we do not really know the cause of happiness and at the same time when we want to avoid trouble, we still donít know the method. We may in order to avoid the trouble, thus very well end up producing our own suffering, while striving for happiness. This is the state called confusion. This is the reason why there is this very famous wish in the Buddhist tradition which is to say, may all sentient beings have happiness and the causes of happiness. How can one make such a wish? This is based on the Buddhaís enormous empathy and friendliness towards all sentient beings. Only if we have from our heart a very friendly feeling towards all sentient beings, then we can make such a wish. The other wish is May all sentient beings be free of suffering and the causes of suffering. This wish comes from the limitless compassion of the Buddha. What does compassion actually mean here? Compassion is the Buddhaís knowledge or intelligence that understands what is the real reason of suffering. The reason being the fact, that we all believe in the existence of a personal I, that seems to be something that we have to defend and support. Based on this feeling we act in all various ways that are unskillful and cause own problems or suffering. So when the Buddha understands that all sentient beings have the same kind of confusion, then he has this limitless compassion to free them from suffering. So those two wishes represent the limitless friendliness and limitless compassion of the Buddha and the intelligence to understand the cause of suffering. So we really have to know the cause and effect in our own mind, to understand where the suffering comes from.
Basically all the religious paths in the world teach ways to achieve happiness and remove suffering. In the Buddhist tradition the main principles that can help us in this direction are the three rare and precious ones, which are also called the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. But even when we have so many religious paths, one distinction is very helpful. We can speak of one possibility to see the material world as most important, where we try to optimize our physical environment and the other perspective is to take the mind as the most important where we try to optimize our mind to achieve happiness. It would be perfectly alright to optimize ones physical environment if we achieve a stable state of happiness. But if it becomes worse and we try all different methods and we still have more trouble, then we have not really reached our goal to reach some independent happiness. In fact we become victims of more and more troubles. Sometimes some people are so desperate that they kill themselves. This shows that itís so important that from inside our mind we should understand cause and result because we really want to achieve some independent happiness. So we need not be confused. We really have to understand what is the cause and effect in our mind to achieve happiness. There have been countless enlightened ones, Buddhaís in the past and there will be countless number in the future and in this time it is Shakyamuni Buddha who has appeared, but all the Buddhaís will say very clearly that there is cause and effect. Nothing will happen without a cause. So when we watch the appearances of this world and our life, we will say that everything that appears to me has a personal cause and actually I have done things in the past and maybe even in the previous lifetimes, which now determine my present state of experience. So the Buddha always says very clearly, that the law of cause and result in my own action is without any error. Its unavoidable to experience the result of ones own action. This is on level of the experience of whatever appears to us. But the other message is if we really look into the reality then there is nothing to find it is emptiness. So there are these two messages, one related to experience and the other related to what it really is. So before when it was said that there are three principles that can help us to find happiness. First is the Buddha or the enlightened one, who is the source of the information. Secondly the liberating information is called the Dharma which basically helps us give rise to compassion and warm hearted friendliness. The third principle is those who apply this information into their lives called the companions on the path which is the Sangha. If someone has heard the information that the Buddha has taught and has also given rise to some compassionate intelligence in ones heart and also applies it in ones daily life, then we have Buddha as the teacher, Dharma as the path and Sangha as the Companion all in one person, in ourselves. One can ask, did not the Buddha teach so many different Dharma? Yes, infact he taught 84,000 different Dharma. So why did he do that? It is because we have so many types of sentient beings. There are some people who are completely obscured and do not understand anything, some understand but they understand it wrong, some understand but they understand little bit and so because there are so many possibilities he has given many skillful ways of information.
Infact one could also make another distinction. The Dharma of the Buddha has two aspects. There is the Dharma which is transmitted and comes from the lineage of the Buddhaís words and the information that we can touch and learn. Then there is the second aspect of the Dharma which is our understanding of it, which is the experience that comes when we understand the information. So there is also the linage of the realization.† Both the lineages are very important. All the information the Buddha has given should be protected as it is very valuable. So the four classical Tibetan tradition some how have work sharing. The traditions of the Gelupa and the Sakyapa have specialized in particular ways to protect the entire variety of teachings of the Buddha, while the traditions of the Kagyupa and Nyingmapa have more the flow of the realization. This is to say that all these four traditions are extremely necessary. They perfectly compliment each other. It is like a tree with a stem, the stem supports the branches, the branches support the leaves and the leaves then support the fruit. So they are all necessary. Particularly we can understand this when we understand that the tree also has to have roots. So the root of all this is called Bodhichitta, which is that type of intelligence in our heart, that is compassionate towards all sentient beings and wants to reach the full awakening of the Buddha for the sake of everyone. It is at the same time limitless friendliness towards everyone. This is the root of the whole Dharma and the root of all the four traditions in Tibet. All the four traditions teach about the cause of the path and result and even though there may be specializations but the common root and life is this Bodhichitta. So if we understand this core of the Buddha Dharma then we do not have a sectarian mind and it is so important to have an unbiased sympathy and compassion.
Rinpoche was once asked to make a wishing prayer for the complimentary nature of these four traditions and then this image or analogy came to him. He said that the tradition of the Gelupa is like the big trunk of the tree, the tradition of the Sakya is like all the different branches, Nyingmapa tradition is like the flower that opens up in the end of the branches and the Kagyu tradition is like the fruit that comes from it. But running through all of them is the water. So each of them is extremely necessary and none will work without the water. This water is the friendliness of heart or compassion and love in our hearts. This is what is running in the trunk, branch, flower and Fruit. Without the water of love the trunk is meaningless, without water the branch is meaningless, without water the flower and fruit are meaningless and all of them will crumble, die and fall down. So all the traditions have one main thing in common it is loving kindness, compassion and Bodhichitta and with these they come to life and are very beautiful. So when we understand in this way, all the 84000 Dharma that the Buddha has taught are basically contained in loving kindness and compassion. So itís important to get down to the real essence.
Quoting the greatest Yogi of Tibet, Milarepa said very clearly, donít analyze all the phenomena; go to the root of your mind. To put it more clearly, donít try to find the root of appearance, but the root of ones mind. He goes on to say donít find the root of the words but try to find the root of the meanings.
So when we have so many words to talk and the life time is so short, itís more important that we look into our mind and at the meaning of those words, to find the real cause of happiness. If we do not understand the cause and result in our own mind then we may be lost in so many words and appearances but we do not get the real happiness. So here itís important to gain true realization and experience. Rinpoche says, that he personally has not learned very much and also by misfortune he has gained only partial experience so he did not have enough merit to completely spend his life in learning Dharma and have full experience but he had chance to have the full experience of suffering. In this situation his main teacher had given him one advice which is called the 37 practices of a Bodhisatva. One could say the 37 practices of the ones who are in the heritage of the Buddha. There verses are very short and he found that every thing needed is contained in them and also itís generally known that the whole Buddha Dharma is in those 37 Bodhisatva practices. Since it was of so high practical value for him, even though he does not know so much of a dharma, he wants to share with us. In one verse of the 37 Bodhisatva practices it says:
All trouble comes from wanting own happiness and the completely enlightened Buddha comes from being helpful to others.
This is a very profound statement. So in the first line it is said all suffering comes from wanting own happiness. We have to look at the word suffering. Actually we have to face the fact of suffering in this world. It even further means, to open our eyes and see there is suffering everywhere. There are in all realms of universe different forms of suffering. There are the higher and lower realms but all of them have different forms of suffering. If we clearly understand there is suffering and this is a fact then we may wonder why is everyone in trouble. In this sentence above of the 37 practices it is said, that it has something to do with ourselves. It is somewhat a certain pattern or habit of mind that wants to defend a seemingly existing self and it takes different faces. There are habits that are more aggressive, some are greedy or wanting to have something, some of jealousy, some more pride and some more stupidity or stinginess. That is what one calls 6 or the 5 mental poisons, because wherever those feelings are present they involve us into some trouble. Even worse they start small and can cause big trouble. Those emotions come from the idea of having a personal self. It is the feeling as though there is something to defend or support in ourselves. That is the cause of suffering in all beings. That is why the sentence says, all kinds of suffering comes from wanting ones own happiness. It really requires some clear intelligence to look here. It is a very strange thing that we all have the feeling of a personal I and infact we act the whole time as if there is something or defend or support. This is how we run our everyday lives. But when we try to find where this I is, itís so simple that none of us can point with our fingers as to where this I is. Even the Fully enlightened Buddhas of the 3 times have never found this I. This is like a paradox called confusion. We act as though there is an I, but we cannot find it when we look for it.
So if we understand with our intelligence that this defense of the I creates all the problems, then we are holding the root of the problem and the solution in our hands because then we will naturally look for the state of mind that does not act as though there is an I to defend. Truly enough, in the moment that we have a heart full of compassion, our actions are not any more like as though there is some I to defend or support. So whenever we have compassion guiding our action, we are out of the loop of that error that guides this.† That is why it is said in the second line, the fully enlightened Buddha comes from helping others. As soon as we direct our focus more to the benefit of others, we are on the path to full enlightenment and everyone can do that. So the Buddha said that all sentient beings are only Buddhaís. We are basically Buddhaís, but he said nevertheless temporarily we are fully obscured. Rinpoche says this is very much like an error of a personal I and we are caught in this like being frozen blocks of ice. But the ice is made out of water and as soon as we add some warmth of heart the ice melts and melts into water. So we all have this option. That is why the fully enlightened Buddha comes from seeing the benefit of others. This is coming from the omniscient mind of the Buddha, who has seen all beings trapped in this personal I but only because of an error. The Buddha understood that the only way to get out of this error is to shift the focus, not to concentrate on the I, but to have a friendly open heart that looks for the benefit of others. So the love and the warmth of the heart is the only way out of trouble and we have to correct many stories of errors. We have been living in this error for so long a time so we need by acting with the loving kindness, to have more positive experiences and imprints. This is what is called to accumulate merit. Whenever we act with the concern for others this wipes out some errors and leaves a liberating trace in our mind and this has to be done for a long time. Buddha understood that this process takes 3 eons. Also in Buddhaís personal life story he himself underwent 500 impure births and 500 pure births with a warm heart where he accumulated positive merit. So in the end he had reached such limitless compassion in his heart that he was without any error in his mind. He could see the nature of reality, which is called the Dharmakaya and reached the state of the Vajradhara, which is the enlightened form of the Buddha.
The main point Rinpoche says we have to understand here, what is the essence of all that Buddha said just on the level of working with everyday experiences. The essence is that the cause and effect in our own action we cannot avoid. We will always be caught by the effect of our own action. This is the law of cause and result on the level of appearances. But if we try to look at the reality, trying to get to the root of all this problem, then every trouble comes from the idea of defending a personal I, which we cannot find when we look for it. So we are acting under the influence of an error and as long as we are under the influence of this error, we cannot get rid of these disturbing emotions. If we want to be less aggressive, less proud, less greedy, less jealous, less stingy and stupid we cannot stop this, without having solved this basic error. As long as we believe there is a personal I to defend, then the trouble comes automatically. When we have completely solved this error and do not believe that there is a personal I in the body and in the mind, then there is nothing to defend and this is the ultimate truth. Automatically we are free of all the problems and we do not make any further problems because there are no mental poisons any more, no aggression, no greed, no jealousy and so on. Normally we are influenced very much by this belief in a personal I and not only do we believe that our mind and body has a personal I, we also act as though we feel a personal I. Also on the outside we say this is mine, this is I, so it seems that the I is getting bigger and bigger. For which benefit is this? All the objects, anything material have no lasting value, they are impermanent so we cannot hold them anyway and they only give us more problems. This is the way to understand all the disadvantages in the belief of a personal I. On the other hand when we are acting with love and compassion, when our interest is more for the happiness of others, in this way we naturally feel happy. Compassionate mind automatically is happy as there is no idea of an I and this is the only way out of this error. So there are many advantages. This is the calculation we should make for ourselves very clearly. We have to taste the disadvantages of the habit of a personal I and taste the benefits of being friendly and compassionate. So if we calculate clearly then our decision should be easy to make. This is what one holds in the decisions, when one really wants to go for liberation, sometimes also called renunciation. Basically it is to say, I have had enough problems so far and now I want to end it. So following this road we overcome all the problems. That is why the Buddha is also called the conqueror, having destroyed the cause of suffering. He has conquered and destroyed the idea of a personal I and having conquered all the mental poisons, he has won the battle against anger, greed, jealousy and other mental poisons. This intelligent warm heart is what we have to firmly establish in the beginning. Seeing the disadvantages of looking for ones own happiness and seeing the advantage of acting with loving kindness and friendliness, the error will get smaller and our happiness will grow.
The famous words of the Buddha are, all sentient beings are only Buddha's but temporarily obscured. So where is this Buddha in us? It is nothing different from our own inbuilt intelligence, in the moment when we understand its true when we are nice and friendly to others we are happy and yes its true when we are aggressive and have evil intention to others we do not feel good. So that positive mind helping others brings happiness and the negative actions brings suffering to me, who understands and calculates this, is our own intelligence in every moment. So this is the same intelligence we can also call mindfulness. When in every moment we can say, I should not be angry, itís not good for me, this intelligence we all have and this is the Buddha in us. Only it is too small right now. Its like a bonsai Buddha and so our work is to make it grow.
This intelligence and mindfulness in ourselves, is very closely related to compassion. Because it is also the understanding that with compassion, with this openness, there is no problem for me and I feel so much better with this friendly heart. So when we want to make this intelligent compassion grow, how do we do this?† Basically we say, I understand to get out of trouble I have to become a very friendly person and right now I am far from this. So how do I get this friendliness in my heart? We are looking for a skillful method to implant this friendship and compassion in our hearts. Actually it looks a little bit selfish saying, I feel so much better with compassion but how do I get this compassion now?† That is totally alright. We just have to be skillful. If we are watching our lives, we understand that if anyone is very nice to us, we feel like this is a very nice person and then we also have a friendly feeling towards them. If this person is more and more nice to us, we feel more and more friendly. So now we have this principle. Actually it is like if someone is nice to us, in the same moment we feel friendly towards this person, we are harvesting friendliness in our heart. But the core is not so much the person but our feeling of gratefulness to that person. If we appreciate what the others have done for us, automatically in that moment we become friendly. The way to be spontaneous and friendlier is that we should be more thankful and more grateful. So how can we become more grateful and more thankful? Simply we should remember the kindness that the others have already given us. If the others are kind and we do not remember this then itís useless. So now we go out and think this person has done something nice for me and we feel more friendliness. If we think more and more in this direction, we have to say that those who have been most kind to us and given us most are our own parents. Did we enjoy the moments where they had given something to us? So we should go backwards in memory and take all those good memories to feel thankful. Itís like a big harvest, we recall good memories and feel so thankful and friendly and the more we feel thankful and friendly the happier we feel and the others will also like it. Our mother will greatly enjoy if we are grateful. Even if our mother is not any longer there, still we can have the full benefits of feeling friendly in our hearts. So we can feel happy in this way. This is were did the Buddha gave advice and said did you think well, every sentient being is like our mother and so there is a much greater harvest of gratefulness and friendliness to bring in our heart. So this is the understanding of the mechanism, to skillfully bring up the friendliness in ones heart and this comes spontaneously out of the thankfulness. There is this limitless option, as we can remember more of the kindness. This is the principle that is actually true in all our lives. When we watch how people feel towards each other, like having affection towards each other the distance is not important, it exists actually even in long distances. Lets say someone calls us from America and if we have a loving relationship to each other, then in that moment immediately we feel like, how nice that you called, as if we switched on the light, in that moment we feel full of happiness. Love and affection is like the raise of the sun, were the rays go and hit they immediately cause warmth. This is the great enormous benefit we can see in our everyday life, by the activity of a loving mind. Friendliness and love bring happiness immediately. Now we should imagine we get this phone call and someone says something very bad to us, it is like someone has thrown a hammer right into our heart so immediately we feel very unhappy and depressed. This we have to see very clearly. We have to understand what the great benefit of friendliness and loving kindness is. Looking into the clear benefit of a loving heart or compassionate action we can see that it even works for animals. If we really like a dog or a cat we can train them to do funny things. So affection has such a great power and influence.
As it is said in the text, affection has also benefit for the self and for others.† The text further says, the Buddha who teaches of loving kindness, compassion and wisdom, he is the source of benefit and well being for everyone. How does that work? When we have affection and love for someone then we automatically try to help them, so we do something to support them, with our body we help and this is exactly the action of generosity. If we are affectionate to that person at the same time we will not cause any harm which is the action of the appropriate behavior. And also when we have full love and affection for that person, we will endure the little troubles that that person makes. We do not see the problems and this is the action of patience. So we can understand that generosity, proper behavior and patience automatically come, when from our side we have a loving relation to the person. As we can understand for ourselves and as is also said in the text, all the worldly pleasures and wellbeing that we can experience comes from generosity, appropriate behavior and patience. So the real cause of harmonious living with others and having a happy and enjoyable life comes straight out of being full of love and affection towards others. Normally when we live in this world, we see there are many beings, small beings like insects and other creatures. We do not feel much connection with them. What do we have to do with all this? This is the state of normal confusion, where we believe we are those little blocks of ice each in our own place. We are all separate individuals. Here we donít understand that we have the same makeup, we are of the same built. We all have the same mind that is looking for happiness and wants to avoid suffering. So from the perspective of compassion and love then we have automatically a connection to all beings. We donít have to stop at certain borders. Because basically our mind is everywhere the same, so I can have limitless compassion with even small creatures and all creatures in this world. This is something we should really observe in our everyday lives. We are feeling relaxed here because we have some friendly feeling with all the people. Even there is a natural smile on our face. If we think only for ourselves we feel lonely and will have a unpleasant expression on our face and the others will think that this person is strange, will not talk with us and this will make more problems. If we think of all the pleasures in this life that come from material things, they will go anyway when we die. Even if we work our whole life very hard to have some wealth, there is hardly time to enjoy and already its time to die. But only one thing we will carry with us, it is only the habit in our mind that we have built. If in the whole life we have been angry trying to defend ourselves, this anger will become a habit and will follow us. The power of anger is so uncomfortable, it will bring us into suffering as if we were a stone and after this life we will fall down like the stone, in something that is more unpleasant. So it gets worse and worse. But if in our whole life, we have built up friendliness, love and affection, not only in this life we already feel happy and relaxed but this love will follow us. Itís like the only treasure we can take with us in this life and the next. All the other treasures we have to leave behind. So why should we not go for this treasure which we can keep for all our lives, since it feels so much nicer to be friendly. We can understand affection as being like something that instead of letting us fall like a stone, it is like having wings of birds and we can really fly in the space with it.
That is why the great conqueror, the Buddha, the awakened one has said, if we pile up all the precious things of the world like all the jewels and make a big mountain of jewels, we have to wait a little bit and then nothing will be left. Nothing of that will have any lasting benefit. The only thing that really has a lasting value is this love in our heart, which is called Bodhichitta, the awakened heart to love. This is the real jewel. It is like a wish fulfilling jewel. If we start in the beginning saying, I am looking for a method to liberate myself from suffering and to gain the ultimate happiness, I am looking for the key information; the meaning of Dharma is the liberating key information.† We can see the essence of all this liberating information is the jewel of the liberating heart, so we just have to make use of it and with this we can really achieve lasting happiness for ourselves and for everyone. If we say this is such a precious thing that I have found and I really want to protect it, and effect how can we protect this precious jewel of a loving heart? Itís by understanding, the cause and result in our own actions. If we watch our everyday life and our own experience, we should become completely convinced that we are fully responsible for our own state of experience. When we have happiness we caused it by loving action and if we have unhappiness we caused it by being angry and evil minded. This is the cause and result and we are fully responsible, thatís good news because we can create the causes to give beneficial results. We can actually protect this jewel of our heart and use the wishful filling jewel of loving kindness to achieve the ultimate liberation for the benefit of us and others. Yes we can do so. So this is where this wish comes from, may this jewel of a loving heart arise in everyone where it has not risen yet, may this jewel of a loving heart not be corrupted where ever it has already risen, not getting lost but may it grow more and more. Here we are in the process of letting our ability of a loving heart grow, a loving heart that grows towards complete awakening. So automatically we understand that this is a gradual process, itís like growing or maturing. Traditionally this is called a path towards enlightenment. Every tradition has to provide such a gradual path. In the Gelupa tradition its called the great gradual path, in the Sakyapa tradition its called cause and result, in the Nyingmapa tradition Patrul Rinpoches text the words of my precious teacher gives such a gradual path and in the Kagyupa tradition itís the words of the incomparable Dakpo Rinpoche (Ganpopa) called the jewel ornament of realization. All these are methods to help beings to let their loving heart grow. A gradual path is needed because beings have different capacities. There are beings who in the beginning feel completely untalented, some have a medium talent and some have a really big heart and are already talented. So itís a path to help everyone in their capacity and slowly one can progress from little to great talent. This is called a gradual path towards enlightenment.
In this context we understand that also in the Drikung Kagyu tradition there must be some gradual path and this teaching that Rinpoche was invited to give called the five points of Mahamudra is also a gradual path, a gradual path to enable each and every one of us to let the jewel of a loving heart grow. When we here about this gradual path or five steps of Mahamudra, we have to understand itís a gradual path towards enlightenment and basically the same as all other great paths to enlightenment. First of all itís a method to help in the understanding that there is a need to give rise to the jewel like loving heart, where it has not risen and once we gain this power of heart not to loose it. This is usually done by applying the four types of understandings that we have a precious human opportunity, impermanence, cause and result and suffering. These are the facts of everyday life and really looking into them, we see the benefits of a loving heart and how not to loose it anymore. So this is the first step of the five points. So when we have really discovered the benefit of a loving and compassionate heart, then we want to let it grow.
The second step of the five points is about growing the loving compassionate heart by focusing ones mind to the example of a wisdom deity. When one works with the wisdom deity as the focus of awareness then all the qualities of love and compassion will grow more and more. But still the essence of all this working with the Deity is that we have more and more trust and love towards this dream of our teachers. That is why the third step is directly connecting ones heart with the enlightened mind of ones teacher. Itís also called Guru Yoga. But the whole point of this connection is that our mind and the enlightened mind of the teacher become inseparable. When this happens we understand reality, which is called here Mahamudra. This is the fourth point. The fifth point is to dedicate, for the benefit of all sentient beings. When we look at the five points of the Mahamudra and compare it with other gradual paths to enlightenment then immediately itís clear that the first step is the same as in other traditions, where we give rise to the loving heart and not letting it get lost. In the end the fifth point or the dedication is also the same in all traditions. So only the middle, the working with the deity, which every tradition has, is linked to the guru yoga and then to the Mahamudra, this is a special teaching style. So this is the only difference but the elements are present in all the other traditions too. It was only the enlightened vision of Jetsun Sumgon, the protector of the three worlds, by which he saw that people need some basis to start with and they can grow with the deity but in order not to miss the main point there has to be the Mahamudra. What is this all good for? This has to be good for all sentient beings.
†As we have seen earlier, all the 84,000 Dharma that the Buddha taught are actually skillful means to give rise to Bodhichitta, which is this intelligent compassion in our heart that is directed towards full enlightenment. This means that all Dharma information teaches us how to give rise to this power of our heart which is not there. All the Dharma further teach us about how not to let it get lost and thirdly how to improve it more and more. We are in the first situation where we have to see the skillful means that give rise to this compassion and intelligence in our heart. Then the first step is to remind ourselves of the present situation or changes that are contained in this human world. If we look at all the other places where potentially we could have been born then this is a very clear advantage. For example in the present moment we are not born in a situation of intense suffering. Like the hell realm where there is no minute for thinking of anything else. Or we are not in a realm where we are constantly thirsty or hungry like in the hungry ghost realm and we are not constantly a victim as in the realm of an animal. Further we are not in the very high God realm. It is clear that in the situation of intense pain and panic we canít think of anything else. But even in the very joyful situation like the God realm we did not have much time to spend on any meaningful thought because of being distracted by pleasure. It is said in the God realm, Buddha gave information to those beings saying, this is not the place for you to get full enlightenment, you have to do good things and make wishing prayers that you are born in human realm. Human realm is the only one that has all the options to obtain full awakening. So itís called the best working basis and this is also the reason it is called precious human life.
It is extremely important that we have some thorough knowledge about the place where we start. In the beginning it may sound strange and a feeling may arise that I do not want to know about things like the conditions for obtaining the precious human life but this is a part of the clear information of the full picture that the omniscient Buddha gave. The human situation is described as extremely hard to find and this is explained in the form of explanation by comparison with number and by the cause. When we give examples they are a little bit unfamiliar and strange to us but by number and reason we can understand it very clearly. It is very simple, if we go to the forest and take up one stone and we try to count all the living beings just under the stone, like ants and Microbes they are more than the human population in this world. Then what about when counting beings without forms, which are even higher in number. The explanation is because the cause and conditions to become human is so difficult to meet. For becoming a human being we need a good portion of generosity, some good portion of appropriate behavior that is not harmful to others and some portion of patience. This is like giving us the minimum equipment to obtain a human body. So we can ask ourselves, how is this that there are so many other creatures and so few humans. If we look around its very difficult, we do not see many beings that practice generosity, appropriate behavior and patience. There are not very many. So there are not many people working to become human again. That is why it is extremely rare to have this chance. So this minimum we have to face as a fact of life. Regularly we should arrive at a point were we truly appreciate this situation and enjoy our precious chance.
So why is it called a precious human situation? Because the human situation is the only one where, we can have some understanding about the cause and result. We can experience and understand that if we behave very nice and friendly there will be a joyful experience and if we are full of aggression and have an evil mind we will not feel very well, so we gain an understanding how the cause and effect in our life works. This clear mind is a very big advantage that we have. On the other hand we see a lot of people who do not use this chance and are not applying this knowledge. How many do we know who are convinced of the cause and effect and practice something good in their lives and how many people stay with that so that they really achieve results. They are getting fewer and fewer. We have a great opportunity in this life, but at the same time there are only few who make use of this situation. So this is a rare occasion. All those people who are living their lives and are not making use of the cause and result for the future are like the people who by some luck get money but do not invest it for the future. So eventually it will be used up and then lost. We really need here in the very beginning, to have compassion and friendliness in our heart for all sentient beings. This enables us to learn much more. If we look at the beings in the ocean that look very ugly and big, they are also eaten by others from the outside. They are helpless and we can think of them as poor creatures. But with the eye of friendship and compassion we can see that there is some similarity between them and us. They are sentient beings like us and we both have a mind. This being is caught in a very dark and dense situation, which is the clear result of dullness and stupidity in the mind which does not take the responsibility of the cause and result. But otherwise this sentient being has all the emotions like we have. Then I can look in myself, am I so different from this being. In that part of my life where I am just living, not thinking, just eating, just working without much intelligence and compassion I am also covered with dullness and not much different from a cow sitting and eating grass. Now looking at this poor creature I can say, I have the same stupidity in the mind and so I should be careful because I can end in the same way. But I can recognize my own stupidity while this creature cannot and then I can do something about this.
If we take a look into this dullness and stupidity, then it all comes down to, clinging to this life. This is when we have no other aim than to work in this life. This is a very small perspective. In the Sakyapa tradition it says, if we hold on to this life, we have no determination to become liberated. Because holding on to this life means, we just want to survive, want a little more money and if we have money we think that will do. But what is the result of it? We can work to get some money but it will not give us the final happiness. This is a very dull and colored state of mind. The opposite will be if we have a wish out of compassion for all sentient beings, to attain full liberation. This is making use of the jewel of a loving heart and we could say this sounds nice and I want to do only this. Does that mean we have to drop our work? Not at all, we have to work in this life to have income and to exist. It is more important to work with our minds, we have to keep our body alive but direct our mind in a meaningful direction. There is no contradiction here at all. If our heart is full of compassion and directed to an ultimate solution, all the actions of our body become generosity and appropriate behavior naturally. So we very well can do all the worldly work and at the same time work on the liberation and at the ultimate meaning in our mind.
An example to see how that works with our life is that if we think of our self as a small child who has just a started with education, we would like to learn lots of things, to complete the education and be totally qualified. The only problem is if we have too much anger with others and jealousy, this disturbs our mind and we cannot learn nicely. When we finish our education we want to get a nice job, so we have a lot of hope to get a nice job and we are scared that we might not get it. So does this hope really help? In fact we can see the more hope and fear the more difficult it becomes. So applying the intelligence of the Buddhist tradition then we would have to say, ok, I have to take responsibility here. If I have more hope and more fear it will not make things better. Actually all the time when we want something very much or very much hate something it will make our lives very difficult. Really we have to say that when I get a good job this is because I have been accumulating good impressions in my mind from the previous lifetimes, so I have all this power of luck which I have accumulated. If it does not work out, I cannot make it do so, as I have not created the conditions for a good job. Not only in this life but in the previous lifetimes I have just not accumulated luck so itís not working out. If I am intelligent and look as everything in my life as cause and result, then in this moment when I do not get a good job, I have to understand that I have to take the responsibility and so I do not become desperate and make things worse. So I keep a clear head and I do things better for the future. This is mainly not to get trapped in either wanting to get something very desperately and very desperately avoiding something else. These two strategies for and against are just causing trouble, we will be trapped in hope and fear. So understanding the cause and result in my own life and keeping loving kindness for all sentient beings, is the working basis with a fresh mind. How do we really apply loving kindness and how can we make it bigger? The basic principle as has already been explained, to remember the kindness received from all other sentient beings. Buddha in his omniscience has said, all the sentient beings have already been our kind mothers so many times. This may be difficult to understand in the beginning, although it is a fact if we understand the cause and result. This would mean that all the creatures like those in the ocean, live and die again and again, have all been our mothers before and all those beings in the state between two lives, who have to be born again, are also our mothers. To understand this first we should start with the people who have been good to us in this life. There may be many of them but certainly the most profit we have is from those people who were teaching us, our teachers and our parents. They have made it possible for us to be the way we are today. This would be the first thing, to allow ourselves to enjoy all the good moments that we have spent with those people and to feel how much they have given us. This really can give us the feeling of friendliness and compassion. Then we are becoming different from the animal state. On the other side, if we look at the people in this time, who are wasting the humans body with some drug addiction, stumbling in the life, all the time they are in a state of intoxication and in an unclear state, this is a very sad situation. These people look like humans from the outside, but their mental state is like that of an animal. We can imagine that after this life is over, having trained in such a way, one will become like an animal. So we have to really use this life to be different and to remember the kindness of all others, not just stare in our own state but look around at all sentient beings and be friendly.
When we see a situation of a teacher teaching a student, there is so much kindness when the teacher tries to explain to us the topic fully, puts a lot of effort in one thing to make us fully understand. Those moments contain so much heart and kindness. If we really feel that, then we will have so much gratefulness and friendliness to that person. It is almost like we become very good friends, like a part of the same family. When we think of all the moments in which the mother is trying to help the child, to take care, to feed, to wash, she puts so much effort in the Childs care. We can really feel this in our hearts. We can be touched by this kindness, saying, this feels so nice. Those moments are heart warming and this is the only thing we can take away with us when we die. We really feel this in our hearts. Even if during our whole life we wore a golden necklace around our neck, when we die we have to leave it. But these heart warming moments will stay with us. They are our capital which is invested in future happiness, so we should gain more of that. The opposite is when we get angry. If we think of a situation where someone behaves unfriendly towards us, if they are truly unfriendly it is their problem because they are suffering in this state and do not feel well when they are unfriendly. But why should I follow in the same stupid direction. If I get angry too then everything is wasted and it is like throwing my capital away from the train. So when ever we see people acting unfriendly towards us† and we feel anger and jealousy creeping up, we should tell those emotions you are no good for me, there is a zero benefit for me, you are about to steal my happiness and I will not let you. I want to keep the happiness so go away. In this way we should take care to let our capital of friendliness grow and not waste and burn it in anger and jealousy. When we grow older, we become elderly people and have children and then we can understand how nice we feel when our children show us affection. We should do the same and think the very best about our parents. It is good for them and us. If we are thinking of the mistakes of our parents, they suffer from their mistakes like we suffer from our mistakes. So there is no need to think of the mistakes and be angry and make it worse. Our lifetime is so short and the time spent with each other is even shorter so we have to make the best use of it. We all have the capacity to become full enlightened Buddha, so we should make full use of the situation, remember the good parts and feel friendly and grateful. So this friendliness and happiness in our hearts can grow and is also doing well for others. How much do the parents like when we children show affection to them. Many people say I only have bad friends and bad parents. It may look like this. But for someone who has a skillful heart of friendly compassion, can turn this situation in the opposite. This is explained in detail in the 37 practices of the Bodhisatvas. (Rinpoche says he hopes very much we will have the occasion to study the 37 practices together in this place or maybe Drago can explain this). Anyway in those practices there are examples how you can turn it around.
In one of the verses it says for someone who wants to have full pleasure of a friendly and good heart, all the harmful situations are like a precious treasure. How can this work? There are two aspects. First, if I have a parent or friend who is very bad to me, understanding the cause and effect the story has a different origin. Certainly in some previous life they were good to me but I was very nasty and must have deeply hurt and frustrated them. So they got angry towards me and now they are attacking me. So that past sequence is coming up now and basically itís my fault. The second aspect is that now in this moment it is finished. If I do not become angry again, all this will be finished now. It is like an operation. So if I can stay without anger, then this harmful situation will touch on my habits of anger and become like a skillful surgeon who will take out my habit of anger. This can only happen in a situation that I do not like, otherwise I am not in contact with my habit of anger. So if I do not give into the anger here, it will be finished like in an operation. For someone who does not get angry, the bad people become like doctors. They heal us from our bad habits, so there is a reason to be even more grateful. If we stabilize the love and friendliness in our heart, we become a friendly character, we also have a nice face and the people will like that. We may have a situation where the people come to us, even though we do not know them and say hello, it is nice to meet you. We will have more friends naturally. Eventually we can become friends with all sentient beings like being one big family. This is the reason in the precious text we are going to study now, in the words of the Drikung master Jigten Sumgon it is said in the form of an example, love and compassion is like a horse, sitting on the horseback we can quickly go anywhere. It is like when we are friendly and everyone likes us then we can achieve everything very quickly. So it says that sitting on the horse of loving kindness and compassion, if we donít go on that horse race to benefit others, we will not gain the price where everybody gives us a big applause. That is why we should be very persistent to work with our mind in the preliminaries. For example it is like a Tibetan horse race, its big fun, sitting on a fast horse and then with many others, heading in the same direction. So it is a big event and when you pass the goal line, the people applause. If we are sitting on the horse of loving kindness and compassion, we have to go on the horse race and then we will get the result of a big applause, directing our heart for the benefit of others. So to gain the final price we now have to be persistent which is called the preparation of the mind. How is our friendliness and compassion of going on the horse race, of benefit to others? To work for the benefit of others is usually described through the 6 Paramitas, which are the actions beneficial to others and bring us complete enlightenment. This explanation is very detailed. If we understand them properly then each of the six actions are also antidotes to the six mental afflictions. The six paramitas are like generosity, morality, patience, diligence, mental stability and intelligence also called wisdom. Each of them has 6 different parts. There is intelligence of generosity, mental stability of generosity, diligence of generosity and so on. But all those wonderful and liberating actions of the Bodhisatvas, come spontaneously out of a compassionate heart. To put this into an example, if we think of a mother who has a child on her lap and the mother thinks of her nice child, but at the same time when she feels this love, she sees all other people in the same way as being close to her like her own child. She has the same feeling towards her child, like towards all other children. Thatís perfect. Basically when the mother cares for her child, this is generosity. Then she will be careful not to hurt the child, this is appropriate behavior. When the child creates a problem for school and things do not go always easy, then the mother exercises patience. All the time she will think of the child with a spontaneous joyful feeling, this is the forth paramita of joyful effort. All the time she will stay in this loving affectionate state of mind towards the child, this is called mental stability. Now comes the most important part which makes a big difference. This is the intelligence to see that all sentient beings are exactly like my own child, there is no essential difference. We are all of the same built or makeup. Then all the actions in relation with the child will be the fulfillment of the six activities of the Bodhisatva. This example also shows clearly how without intelligence it does not work. All the first 5 paramitas are very good intentions but if we keep them for ourselves like saying Oh my child, then nothing will grow and this will be a cause of many problems. With the intelligence we can have loving kindness to work for all sentient beings. We can see itís not very difficult to apply in our everyday life. In relations between couples there are plenty of occasions for generosity, patience and so on. If we go to work with this friendly heart, all our actions become Paramitas. If we do not hurt others it is appropriate behavior, if we do not get angry it is patience. If we are always joyful and remember loving kindness it is the joyful effort. If we stay in loving kindness it is mental stability. But we need this awareness in the background and the mindfulness that remembers all sentient beings are the same. Then we would not distinguish between me and others. Because real loving kindness is always good for me and for others so we do not need to calculate between me and others. The wise ones will understand that every life situation can be used to practice the 6 paramitas. For example think of a Dharma event. We think this is good so we are rightly motivated in our heart and then we need to buy a plane ticket and have to make an effort to come here. All this is an investment and becomes like generosity. When we are here we understand we have to behave properly to make the whole thing work, which is the second paramita of appropriate behavior. Then there are always little moments of discomfort like sitting for a long time here, our back or knee hurts, or like in Munich Rinpoche gave a one week retreat in a house with many people so there were some difficult moments. So for these little things we do not get angry and this is the paramita of patience. We continue to stay with the feeling that this is meaningful and good, this is the practice of diligence. All the time in our heart we stay with a good intention, this is the paramita of mental stability. Intelligence is the awareness that keeps us free from egoism. Because this is the awareness that understands that there is no I. All the other actions will bring us some joyful experience, but if I think of only my joy then it will quickly disappear. So the intelligence that understands that there is no difference between I and others is our insurance that our joy will not go away. In the best cases this intelligence will always find out about the nature of the mind and find out that the nature of our mind is naturally clear and compassionate. Even though there is nothing to find, nothing that we can identify as mine and here, yet there is clarity and natural compassion. So this is in the end, the union of compassion and wisdom. Understanding the reality automatically comes with spontaneous compassion and real compassion spontaneously comes with that intelligence that understands the nature.
Seeing it from this point of view, we see those things like the mandala offerings and we wonder what those strange things are. Why do we make offerings? The real point here is to train our self in generosity. Generosity is the opposite of stinginess. Stinginess is the idea of this is mine, I have to hold on, I have to protect it. This is a very uncomfortable state of mind. Offering makes us free of this state of mind and brings about joy in giving. To give an example, to come here for a day we have to pay for a bus ticket, we say this is expensive. Again when we have to pay in a restaurant, we say its expensive and its like something is lost here again, again money is lost when we have to pay taxes, we say it is too much. So we feel uncomfortable and the whole time this is suffering. We make our life difficult and stinginess is a state of suffering. If we think clearly there is no money lost. If we pay tax to our government or give money to others for work, the money goes into different hands and is not lost. Some other people will be happy when they get the money and if we can feel with them saying how nice, then we make them happy. So with the same action we have a choice. We can either calculate, feel more suffering anytime or can feel more joy that I have contributed to the happiness of other beings. The idea of generosity is to free us from the burden of holding on to our own things, so becomes a path that liberates us. So we should look at the whole situation of this life with a very friendly heart. We should share the smile of the heart with all the people here, the rich, poor, young and old. All these people together make this society. There are many personal stories of happiness and suffering and things are not always easy. There are also long histories but anyway now in this state we can say everyone here has independence. This is a democratic state, where everyone can do the maximum positive. This is the best we can get in the whole cycle of samsara. There are so many options how sentient beings can live. We can look at all the states where there is dictatorship and where the government likes to rule and the people are not free. Compared with those situations here is paradise. All democratic states have the optimum happiness which we can achieve in this world. In this situation we should be grateful to our society. It is not only the government, it is our whole society, where everyone is contributing. We are enjoying it all the times. We are happy that the electric light is working, we are happy when we open the water tap, the society is serving us all the time. So this is a very fortunate situation and should make us feel grateful. Therefore we should also feel some friendliness to this society because it is also so friendly towards us.
Rinpoche said that everything that he has taught is already contained in this little booklet of the 37 practices of those who want to follow the path of the Buddha. If you are looking for an advice regarding how to remember the precious opportunity of the human life it is in here. If you are looking for an advice for how to understand the explanations about cause and result in our action and experience it is here. So all the teachings of the Buddha are condensed in those 37 verses and also all the words of the masters of the four lineages, the kagyu, Gelupa, Sakya and Nyingma are in here. So if we are trying to follow a path we have to understand the basis, the path and what is the goal. Here it is explained that the very basis is the Bodhichitta, the awakened mind already in our heart. When we use it for a path we apply loving kindness and compassion to make it grow. Also we let it flow into the actions which are the six types of actions called the Paramitas. These paramitas are all the Bodhisatva activities to benefit sentient beings and to cause awakening. In the end of the path we reach a result which is also Bodhichitta with the limitless compassion and wisdom. So the beginning is our inbuilt Bodhichitta and by practicing loving kindness and compassion the path is also Bodhichitta and the result is also Bodhichitta. Why do I have to say this? This is to make clear if we practice love and compassion, it will strengthen our intelligent compassionate heart and we will automatically benefit others and as a side effect also feel very happy and comfortable ourselves. Then also from life time to life time we will become more awakened and in the end reach full enlightenment. So it is a complete and valid path. There are some others who are in a hurry to reach the result, there is also the path of the vajrayana, also called secret mantrayana, which is supposed to be faster and easier. But this applies for those people who are very talented and require a lot of compassionate intelligence. So when it is called secret mantrayana, actually it is not because there is something difficult or has to be kept secret or is dangerous. It is more a self secret because very intelligent people can only understand it. The reason being that, it is about us already being a Buddha. All sentient beings are Buddha and we do not recognize this in this moment and we donít even believe it. This is why we are obscured in this moment. Some people have a very deep understanding and believe it, are convinced of it like the great yogi Milarepa. He understood and realized the enlightenment in one life time. So if we have the confidence that our mind is the Buddha, then this path will be very profound and very fast.
Oral translation from Tibetan to English by Christoph Klonk
Edited by Reena ämalcelj
(This text is the first part of the Mahamudra, taught by Ven. Garchen Rinpoche, in Zagreb,october 2007. The complete text of the teaching will be available in the Padmasana Center)
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