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Introduction to Buddhism In Four Lessons
Notes on teachings given by Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen
Colorado Springs, Colorado

The following materiel are notes only and not intended to be a complete and detailed transcript of Geshe-la's teachings. These notes have not been reviewed by Geshe Gyeltsen for accuracy or completeness. Any errors contained in these notes are my own. Some effort was made to make complete sentences and so additional words have been added and in some instances different words were substituted. Every effort was made to achieve consistency with the intent and meaning of the oral teaching. I hope these notes add to your enjoyment and understanding of the lessons.

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October 11, 1996

Friday, 7:30 PM

First Lesson

Preceeding the teaching was a recitation of Taking Refuge,the Lama Tsong Khapa Guru Yoga and the Seed of Wisdom Sutra.

Why do we listen to the teachings, study and practice the Dharma?
We listen, study and practice Dharma to be free from pain, suffering and unhappiness. We want happiness and joy and everything that is positive: positive knowledge, action and result. This is very important fir us. We should be very serious in our effort. We want to be free of suffering. Always remember this. We do not practice Buddhism to show off or to make a reputation for ourselves.

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What is Buddhism?
Being Buddhist is not easy. What does a person need to qualify as being Buddhist? Be serious and from the bottom of your heart, study the teachings of the Buddha. The teachings of Buddha are voluminous. His teachings address 84,000 negativities or delusions. We need to purify these. Antidotes are needed for anger, jealousy, etc. and Buddha's teachings are the antidote.
There are two kinds of teachings: Sutra and Tantra or secrete teachings. One must be qualified to receive the teachings and practice tantra.
There are three baskets of teachings. These are vinaya, sutra and abhidharma.
There are 84,000 delusions and there are three root delusions for all of these. Ignorance, desire and anger are the root delusions. Of these, ignorance is the root of all all the others (anger and desire, etc.).
An example to illustrate this is a tree, with 84,000 branches growing from a root or a trunk. Destroy ignorance, the root, and you destroy all of the tree and its branches.
If you suffer from 84,000 delusions, you are paralyzed and cannot move. Buddhism is the great medicine for overcoming these negativities. It is medicine made by the Buddha. Buddhism is a great, powerful medicine to destroy 84,000 delusions and the root delusion, ignorance. If you have the medicine you can destroy negativities. Wisdom mind destroys ignorance. Wisdom mind is the antidote to ignorance. Compassion and loving kindness are paths to enlightenment. To be a Buddhist we must develop renunciation for samsara (cyclic existence) and a wish for freedom.
In the Hinayana School one attains freedom from samsara. suffering, and the causes of suffering (delusions). But one does not become as a Buddha, completely free of illusions. To become a Buddha, one must go through the Mahayana Path.
In the Mahayana School one attains freedom from delusion and illusions and become a Buddha through tremendously deep meditation and a state of peace. Eons and eons of meditation are necessary. A Buddha knows the past, present and future in the existence of the present moment because he is free of both delusions and illusions.
Within these major schools there are specific systems of practice or paths. In the Hinayana there is the Shravakas Path which includes additional stages or paths. Those are the merit path, preparation path, seeing path, meditation path and no more learning path. The Pratyeka Path contains the same paths or levels as above.
Then there is the Bodhisattva Path. One must have bodhichitta (great compassion and great loving kindness) to begin this path. The merit path is the first step.
The Merit (Accumulation) Path
Meditation Path (understanding the nature of phenomena, "shunyata") Here the meditation is about emptiness (shunyata), the nature of phenomena. When relativity among phenomena is see then one moves up to the Seeing Path. Here all phenomena are seen as they naturally exist. This is why they do not make any mistakes in their action. They have the eye of wisdom. An example is that when we have eyes we do not mix colors by mistake. All phenomena is seen as it naturally exists. No mistakes are made in action because of the eye of wisdom. There is no increase in negative karma because there are no causes for negative karma. This leads to the No More Learning Path.
All of Buddhism can be called the knowledge path and it is very large. Said in another way, the essence of Buddha's teachings is...no harm and no damage, compassion and love.
That is Buddhism...the teachings of Buddha. Commentaries by other holy beings which are intended to make Buddha's teachings clear to ordinary human beings are also to be considered as Buddha's teachings. If you take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha it is important not to take refuge or trust in ghosts (spirits) or ordinary deities. We can ask them to help, but this is not the same as taking refuge in them. The Buddha, Dharma and Sangha have wisdom eyes, and they will not make mistakes in leading and preparing students. Buddha is like a great tour guide because he has gone first to Buddhahood. He has preceded us on the path and he has attained wisdom. In following Buddha we will not end up in the wrong place.

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Who is Buddha?
It is very important to know that Buddha did not come from the sky. He was a human being. Before becoming a Buddha he experienced different kinds of rebirth in all six realms: as a hell being, a hungry ghost, a god, an asura, a human and an animal. He practiced, purified negativities and developed wisdom. To us, Buddha is like having our own experienced "tour guide." He has been through each of the six realms of beings and he remembers them.
Buddha and all of us have gone through these realms numberless times...burning and freezing. But we (ordinary beings) don't remember them now. We can, however, experience them through our human experience and through meditation. To develop compassion we need to know how hungry ghosts are suffering and how hell beings are suffering in the hot and cold hells. We can use human examples to know the kind of suffering that is in those hells. An example of this is being outside at night in the cold, without clothing in Alaska or Colorado. We can also know this suffering through meditation. We know we want to be free of this and we develop a very strong compassion for others. Buddha saw the suffering of other beings and developed great compassion for them. Long ago, we were there with Buddha at the same time in samsara. Once we were together, but now there is a big difference between Buddha and us. One day we can all become a Buddha.
Karma determines in which realm we will be reborn. Lamas with a good practice have a choice in their rebirth. Ordinary beings do not. Karma is like a computer in determining what our rebirth will be. We must pay for our own negative actions. We should think at the end of each day what our actions have been and how the negative and positive karma collects and stays with us. Even though we may not act negatively ourselves, if we give the order or we are in some way responsible for the negative action, we will pay for that negative action.
We can either pay for our negative actions or purify them. It is possible to achieve Buddhahood in one lifetime. For example, following the instructions of his teacher, Milarepa killed 999 beings but a good seed was within him and he purified this negativity. This is a good example for us. It means we all can purify our negativities.
Who is Buddha? In the beginning he was an ordinary being, just like us. Buddha was born 2500 years ago as the son of a king and stayed 29 years in the palace. However, he did not want to stay in the palace. He saw the suffering of birth, sickness, old age and death. He knew that he would experience the suffering of all of this. All of this suffering in all the realms made him want to become a monk. After six years, when he was 35 years old, he became a Buddha and began to give his teachings. We have many negativities to purify. But Buddhahood can be achieved in one lifetime.

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Understanding the Mind
We have six different kinds of mind. We have six senses: seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and heart-mind or (mental) consciousness.
Tomorrow we will talk about karma or seed that stays with the consciousness, not with the body. Continued consciousness is impermanent. We are not permanent. We always change. Like the Colorado River is never the same...our consciousness is just like that. Our consciousness comes to us from the life before.
In the hell realms our consciousness suffers all the time and cannot become aware of the Dharma. In the god realms there is too much enjoyment and happiness to practice Dharma. Human life is the best opportunity to practice Dharma. Consciousness has come to us through previous lifetimes. We need to go through many lifetimes to become a Buddha.
Body, speech and mind are the three doors to go through to the higher and lower realms. Good actions of body, speech and mind cause us to migrate to the higher realms. Bad actions cause us to go to the lower realms.
The mind is king over body and speech. When you have a happy mind it will direct your body and speech into positive action. Body and speech are the subjects of the mind just as there are subjects to a king. Check this out...experiment with it. It is very logical.
World peace needs to begin between friends... Meditation practice is used to control the mind. Mantras, chanting and the practice of meditation...the objective of all of these is to change the mind. Our mind is like a wild bull or horse. We need to work with it. Now is a great chance for a revolution to change and control our bad mind. That is why we need Buddhism.

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Rebirth and Reincarnation
Everyone has experienced rebirth and reincarnation. Karma does not give us a choice about rebirth. We are as paper or a cloud in the wind. The wind controls our direction. It is just like that with karma in our rebirth. If we have good karma, we will have a good rebirth. If we have bad karma we will have a bad rebirth. A bad rebirth means birth into one of the three lower realms: animal, hungry ghost or hell realms. Good rebirth occurs into one of the three higher realms: god, asura or human realms. Karma does not give us a choice. A common life results in karma that directs our rebirth just like a piece of paper is blown in different directions by the wind. If our good karma is more than the bad karma then it automatically means a good rebirth. If it is equal, what happens? Then "connection karma" determines rebirth. That is determined by what is in the mind at the time of death. This is why it is very important to have positive thoughts of loving kindness and compassion at the time of death. Have thoughts like, "my death is for all others."
To serve as an example, there is the story of a mother and daughter crossing a river by foot together. The middle of the river it was too deep and the current was too strong. They were swept away. Both had thoughts of hoping that the other would be saved. Both drowned and both were reborn in heaven. This is a "passion story" told to us by clairvoyant holy beings. For us, clairvoyance is like a guess, but holy beings have the knowledge of a Buddha. So they knew this story was a good example.
When time of death comes to us we should think and say positive things and look at holy pictures. If you are in the presence of someone that is dying, don't cry and say "don't die, don't die, stay alive for me." Don't express your emotional attachment and cause the dying person to be upset. If you help the dying person to be calm and have a positive mind, then this will allow connection with positive karma and the positive karma seed will open so the next life will be great. Compassion gives us choice in rebirth. Compassion at time of death is also very useful for fortunate rebirth. Think about this.

The lesson was concluded with a dedication, closing chant and Dedication of Merits.

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October 12,1996

Saturday, 9 AM

Second Lesson

Recitation of Preceding the Seed of Wisdom Sutra, the Seed of Wisdom Sutra (Mantra) and Refuge and Development of Bodhichitta.

Last night I told you to think about you and all other sentient beings that need to be free from delusions and negative states of mind. We need to have a good motivation and method for that. This method comes through the teachings to your mind. That is why it is important to listen to the teachings of the Dharma.


Past and Future Lives
Many people wonder about the nature of their previous life. You can know the good or bad qualities of your previous life by seeing the qualities of this life. Fortune tellers and others cannot tell you. If things are good for you in this life, then your previous life was good. If you have suffering, pain or happiness in this life, this has come to you as the result of your previous life or lives. Negative actions committed in a previous life result in suffering in this life. Experiencing shortages or not having adequate material things in this life is the result of miserly in a previous life. A bad life is the result of bad action in a previous life. Understand by this that your mind is taking you to your future life and that you can check your own mind to see if your future life will be good.

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What is karma?
Karma is important for all people, not just for Buddhists. Karma is a law that applies to all sentient beings, except Buddhas or enlightened beings. It is the nature of sentient beings to follow their karma. Karma is like a judgment from a judge for everybody. During any life time all good and bad actions produce karma and karma is collected by individuals like data in a computer or bank account. One hundred people committing an act of stealing or killing marks each of their consciousnesses. Karma is not collected non-sentient objects like earth, water or rocks. Buddha explained the nature of karma through his teachings. The teaching are very extensive.
Each of us must be careful about how we collect karma. The results of negative actions are magnified in their result upon us. Positive results come back to you, too. Take the example of being generous. The positive result of being generous will come back to you in a future life. Right now is the right time to change ourselves.
Animals that kill each other experience the result of their negative action in future lives. In the hell realms there is so much suffering there is not time to make negative karma. If some positive karmic seed ripens for an individual in the hell realm, then there may be some time to think positively. But the of this case happening is extremely rare.
We need to think about whether our actions are good for us or not. For example, making weapons is a very stupid thing to do. This causes one to commit negative actions indirectly. Negative karma and suffering will be the result. All negative actions should be stopped now!
In a sutra, Buddha said that if you do not create the karma, the result will not come to you. An example is that if you are in a car accident and some people are killed and injured and you are not. This is a result of their karma and not yours. The result, pain and suffering, is not karma. Karma is the cause and the result is the effect of karma. These are different.
There is an exception to the law of cause and effect: The karmic seed caused by bad action can be destroyed or "purified." The purification of a negative action is like a seed being destroyed by fire. Just as rice or barley will not develop from burned seeds, negative results will not come from negative actions that have been "purified." Otherwise the result of bad karma cannot be escaped. Death (the result of karma) cannot be escaped. But we can be free of death by becoming a Buddha.
Another example is when a shortage of food causes starvation in an area. Some people have enough food and do not starve. This is a result of especially good karma from a previous lifetime.) Members of the same family are very different because of karma. We always blame others for our difficulties, but our problems are always made by ourselves. They are the result of "temporary causes" related to karma.
"Temporary causes" are related to karma, but are not the same thing. A seed will only produce when there is adequate water and temperature. The seed is very important, but water and temperature are conditions or "temporary causes" that are also needed. Do not blame others. We have caused our own circumstances. "Temporary causes" are a result of karma.
Buddha's teachings are not like orders to be followed, but are like medical advice.
We can also destroy our positive karma. For example, when anger comes, that can destroy our positive karma. Positive actions can be put in a "safe deposit box," as in a bank (in our consciousness) when we dedicate those positive actions. Dedications is the safe deposit box or lock to protect positive karma. (There are both positive and negative sections in a bank and in our consciousness.) For example, if one chants "om mani padme hum" many times to create positive merit, then one must also make a dedication to keep it safe.
The Kadampa Chekowa said that two things are very important. The beginning (motivation) and the end (dedication). The prayers I have made for this new center have both. These chants and prayers are very important. The seven limb prayer in the Lama Tsongkhapa Guru Yoga is very important. Do these prayers whenever you are together. Dedication is like a lock to protect positive actions. Then your anger cannot destroy the karma of positive actions in your consciousness. Dedication is accomplished by thinking that the positive actions of meditating or chanting or whatever positive action you have done that the power of those positive actions is for the benefit of all sentient beings to be free from suffering and the cause of suffering and may these actions cause me to become a buddha by that merit. That is a dedication. Then anger cannot destroy it. Think about becoming a Buddha for the benefit of all sentient beings. Dedication is like a drop of water put in the ocean, it is always part of the ocean.
Nargajuna said that dedication is like the back of a horse. It is used to control its direction.
Throw karma. This karma determines rebirth and life in various realms. Moral life and good actions produce good throw karma A good life is the result of good karma. A bad life is the result of bad karma. That is throw karma. You need to have a good moral life, i.e., living in accordance with Bodhisattva Vows or the vows of monks or nuns. Ordinary people must keep a moral life and avoid or stop the ten negative (non-virtuous) actions: killing, stealing, illicit sexual contact, lying (even in a joke), etc. For example, saying you have talked to holy beings such as Buddha or Jesus in the monastery, there is a vow about not speaking of this, even if it is true. Stopping double talk (what someone else has said), divisive speech, gossip or meaningless talk, harsh or bad words (like weapons), coveting, wrong opinion or criticizing any religion by stating non-belief is also very bad. This moral conduct along with doing the ten virtuous actions such as generosity, diligence patience. These actions will cause your life in the future to be a good life. Negative actions will cause rebirth in the lower realms.
Finish or result karma. This karma determines what happens after your life in a particular realm has been determined. These determine the conditions of your life, such as long life and success. This has been discussed previously.
Karma is a very deep subject. We need to be very concerned about karma. Last night we saw a cat. It is sometimes said that cats have eyes that look like wisdom eyes (which means eyes of the mind realizing the nature of phenomena). If you have the understanding of phenomena, then you will have wisdom eyes. Then you know what actions are good and bad and you can stop making bad karma. Until then, we must be concerned about karma.

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The Preciousness of Our Human Life
Human life is more precious than a life in the hungry ghost or hell realms. The freedom or opportunity to practice dharma is very precious. This makes human life more precious than "a wish fulfilling gem." Such a gem is very rare. If someone has this gem, then anything that a person thinks is will come to be. This gem no longer exist in the human realm. But a religious life (dharma) is much more precious than that. We can make ourselves free of suffering and make unchangeable great happiness and joy in our human life. This is more precious than diamonds or gold. When we die we would have to leave those precious gems behind. But we can take our practice of dharma with us. This is why our life is so precious. This is really a great chance we have. Our life is a rare opportunity. This rarity is like seeing a star during daylight or like a rice grain or bean standing on end after being throw against a wall.
So don't be lazy. Our life is very precious. Think about how life is important and rare. Think about how to use it positively. Do not use it in negative ways. This is our responsibility. Use body, speech and mind in a positive way. It is like a gold plate with diamond ornaments around it. Do not make it dirty or throw it away. That is not intelligent. We should use our life positively.

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What is Meditation?
There are two kinds of meditation: analytical and single pointed concentration. Actually, meditation generally involves concentration an object. Bring the meditation object into focus, just like in a picture. For example when moving film makers want to focus in on a particular person, all the lights are placed on that person. We must stop all other activities of the mind and focus on the object of meditation. Concentration means that your mind is only focused on the object of meditation.
Which kind of meditation is more important? Analytical meditation is much more important than single pointed meditation, because we need to develop our awareness of wisdom to destroy negativities. Analytical meditation means going through the reasons of how and why. For example, things are not self-existing and exist dependently with other things. Also, there are two kind of phenomena, permanent and impermanent. We must reason how things are dependent.
Doing single pointed meditation first, makes the analytical meditation easier to do. It makes your mind more stable. Example: warriors need bows and arrows and transportation. Single pointed meditation is like a horse. Wisdom is the weapon. The real enemy is negativity.
The result of single pointed meditation is to control and stabilize mind. That will allow you to stay with the object of meditation for a long time. When your mind becomes stable through single pointed mediation, this kind of meditation is no longer necessary. Go on to analytical meditation.
It takes about six months in a meditative retreat to develop a stable mind. Go to a quiet place, get the details on how to do this, and then work on single pointed meditation for six months. Do not work or become distracted by everyday things. Do only solitary meditation. Accomplish four sessions a day. Each session should be two to three hours. Even during break time, do not look outside or become distracted. Just keep quiet.
Now days people often do not get results of single pointed meditation for several months and, sometimes, even years. That may be because during meditation retreat, after their meditative sessions, they go back to normal activities. They do not really maintain control of their mind. That is why they do not get
results. If you want to do it right, you can get a good result in six months. Then you will be able meditate on Bodhichitta or anything.

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Awareness of Death
If you want to realize the time of the death in meditative experience, you need to study the sutras or the secret tantras. You need to learn from the tantras...a tremendous meditation. Because death and rebirth is transformed from ordinary to special. I cannot talk about those things, today, because you need to get tantra initiations. For this you need to have bodhichitta and the understanding of shunyata. With those things, then you can do the meditation.
But in general, I think the way to obtain a vision and awareness of death is through the sutras or abhidharma...really, we need to think about this now. Maybe sometime, you can go to the hospital and see what happens when people die. You cannot really know what happens inside of dead or dying beings. We cannot see what kind of fear or feelings that they are experiencing.
I think that most people two different attitudes about death.
1 ) Most people who practice for death are anxious and do not have confidence in how they will experience it. That is why they want to do a death practice.
2) Most people do not practice for death. I think these people are happy to die. There are two ways, a good way and a bad way. (The following transcript does not clearly differentiate the good and bad ways.)
a. I think that those who do not practice and are happy to die because they think they are too old to be coming back in a new body. That is why they are not frightened of death. They think they will come back as human beings again. That is a stupid way. They don't know the results of karma on their rebirth.
b. Some people think that it is terrible in their life, things are very difficult, being poor and suffering in pain. It is not right to think that we will avoid suffering and be better off coming back in a new body. It is not clear to them what will happen at the time of their death.
An example is the elements of the body: earth, water and fire elements. All the elements are put together in the mother's womb. We don't get any other material things for our body in our lifetime...only our consciousness, which goes into the mother's womb. We only have our consciousness from our previous lifetime. From there, the father and the mother join and this begins our material life and the elements also. And the elements with our consciousness grow. When we die, all the elements and their powers go off. As they go off, we have different visions, fright (fear) and pain. When the earth element goes (we experience) dropping from the roof to downstairs, and body's power goes off. When the fire element goes, we have no body heat. If you want to learn about these things, you may study them.
In this life we have many abilities. Good talk and good awareness. When we die these abilities to talk and be aware decrease. Normally we want to keep clean. When the time of death comes, we do not care because everything is being lost.
Do this...think about what we cannot do as we go through the dying process. Get the answers by yourself. When we die, everything is almost up-side down. Ask yourself "what will be useful during that time?" Think about this.
Next time, during another visit, when we have the opportunity and you have learned more and studied the sutra and the lam rim, you can get the initiation. Then we can go through the explanation of death and how to transform death into the bardo and rebirth.

Short dedication and followed by a break for lunch.
If you want to realize the time of the death in meditative experience, you need to study the sutras or the secret tantras. You need to learn from the tantras...a tremendous meditation. Because death and rebirth is transformed from ordinary to special. I cannot talk about those things, today, because you need to get tantra initiations. For this you need to have bodhichitta and the understanding of shunyata. With those things, then you can do the meditation.
But in general, I think the way to obtain a vision and awareness of death is through the sutras or abhidharma...really, we need to think about this now. Maybe sometime, you can go to the hospital and see what happens when people die. You cannot really know what happens inside of dead or dying beings. We cannot see what kind of fear or feelings that they are experiencing.
I think that most people two different attitudes about death.
1 ) Most people who practice for death are anxious and do not have confidence in how they will experience it. That is why they want to do a death practice.
2) Most people do not practice for death. I think these people are happy to die. There are two ways, a good way and a bad way. (The following transcript does not clearly differentiate the good and bad ways.)
a. I think that those who do not practice and are happy to die because they think they are too old to be coming back in a new body. That is why they are not frightened of death. They think they will come back as human beings again. That is a stupid way. They don't know the results of karma on their rebirth.
b. Some people think that it is terrible in their life, things are very difficult, being poor and suffering in pain. It is not right to think that we will avoid suffering and be better off coming back in a new body. It is not clear to them what will happen at the time of their death.
An example is the elements of the body: earth, water and fire elements. All the elements are put together in the mother's womb. We don't get any other material things for our body in our lifetime...only our consciousness, which goes into the mother's womb. We only have our consciousness from our previous lifetime. From there, the father and the mother join and this begins our material life and the elements also. And the elements with our consciousness grow. When we die, all the elements and their powers go off. As they go off, we have different visions, fright (fear) and pain. When the earth element goes (we experience) dropping from the roof to downstairs, and body's power goes off. When the fire element goes, we have no body heat. If you want to learn about these things, you may study them.
In this life we have many abilities. Good talk and good awareness. When we die these abilities to talk and be aware decrease. Normally we want to keep clean. When the time of death comes, we do not care because everything is being lost.
Do this...think about what we cannot do as we go through the dying process. Get the answers by yourself. When we die, everything is almost up-side down. Ask yourself "what will be useful during that time?" Think about this.
Next time, during another visit, when we have the opportunity and you have learned more and studied the sutra and the lam rim, you can get the initiation. Then we can go through the explanation of death and how to transform death into the bardo and rebirth.

Short dedication and followed by a break for lunch.

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October 12,1996

Saturday, 1PM

Third Lesson

What is Liberation?
We need a revolution from suffering, sickness and pain (from samsara) to attain freedom for ourselves. We need to change to make ourselves happy. We need to begin by knowing what is really keeping us tied into the suffering of samsara. Ask yourself, "Who makes me stay in this place of suffering?" We need to look at both outside and inside enemies. Outside enemies cannot keep you in samsara. But for each individual, the inside enemies of delusion and ignorance can. Our negative mind has tied us to samsara. What we really want, we cannot have. We are very strongly chained by our karma and delusions. We need to cut off these ties and attain our freedom.
We need to be serious and generate the energy to extinguish our karma and delusions. I think a form of energy need is diligence...diligence of the mind. Diligence means that one is happy or enthusiastic doing something. Take for example, what Buddhists consider a negative activity hunting or fishing. Individuals generate the enthusiasm and diligence to do these things even in the rain or under a hot sun. People don't want to miss a party or drinking together. Why can't some people interested in the dharma have such diligence for a positive activity? Interest in music or films is okay, but take care not spend too much time with these activities (even though these activities are not associated with negative actions like being upset and angry). Make things positive by having a positive attitude or perspective. Rejoice when there are positive outcomes. Develop compassion for those who are suffering or for criminals that do not want to go to jail, etc. Remember that negative mind causes people to harm others. Develop more positive attitudes and perspectives. This practice should be a regular part of our daily life.
Revolution means changing things from bad to good. That's only a beginning. Think also about the method of cutting the chain of karma and delusion. Think about developing the wisdom mind. You cannot buy this from a store. If we could, I think the rich would be first in line anyway. Most of the holy beings are not rich. Some are, but most are very poor. Freedom is for everyone. It is really quite democratic. Those who value most the knowledge needed for attaining freedom from samsara and for becoming a buddha go first.
The Chinese say that Tibet is a capitalist country governed by a leader. Maybe physically the country is ruled by leaders, but from the monks and nuns side, they have great freedom. They (monks and nuns) can be leaders or beggars. Being rich or poor makes no difference. It is more important to practice and study the Dharma well. Sometimes we do too much and then we leave our Dharma practice for months and months. That is not good enough! An example is that if we need to boil water, it does not work to turn the heat on and then off for a while. The water stays cold. That is why we will not accomplish anything if our practice is off and on. When we start practicing the Dharma, we should practice every day. It does not matter so much if it is for a long or a short time, but practice everyday. Always continue moving and moving...forward. We need to do that all the time.
You know the story of the rabbit and the turtle. The rabbit is very fast, but he is more lazy than the turtle. That is why the rabbit lost the competition. The turtle won the victory because he took no breaks, always kept moving, moving, moving. That's more important, I think.
Whether you are working or studying, you need time for your spiritual life also. You can always make time for this.
For example, even if you are a busy student at a college you have time to practice Dharma. You have a lot of time. You made need time, maybe one or two hours you play football or something. You can do that. Then you do homework, maybe one or two hours or four hours. Then, maybe four hours in school. Then you have twelve more hours. What to do? You sleep, maybe eight hours. Then you still have four hours. So you have time for the Dharma.
Working people also have time in the same way. They work for eight hours, take about four hours for lunch and dinner and then there is another twelve hours in the day. You may sleep eight hours. You still have four hours. There is time, if you really want to do it. Two hours for television and two hours for Dharma practice. Yes, if you check, you have the time. You must practice everyday. Practice is more important than anything else. We face great dangers in this lifetime and we must protect ourselves. But the greatest danger we face is after our death. We can protect ourselves through powerful devotion and faith in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. If we don't have that, then there is no hope. There are tremendous dangers.

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The Four Noble Truths
There is the truth of suffering. We have already talked about the need for a revolution from the causes of suffering. We need to talk about the nature of suffering. There are three major types of suffering: There is
1) the suffering of suffering (pain),
2) the suffering of change and
3) the subtle suffering (from criticism and praise).

Subtle Suffering
It is very natural to that no one appears to be suffering in this way. But we experience subtle suffering day and night. Subtle suffering comes with every day. Just like the shadow comes naturally with the body. Sometimes it is visible, and sometimes not. It is not always sunny. Subtle suffering is always with us. Do not become angry at criticism. Criticism does not matter.
Suffering of suffering
With this subtle suffering comes extra suffering, the suffering of suffering: toothache, headache, illness, injury, etc. People suffer by burning, freezing, and from eating too much. Just like weeds, suffering of suffering comes and goes.

Suffering of change
The suffering of change occurs by eating too much, when relationships change, with the changes of reputation, clothing and food. An example is people staying in the sun too long and getting too much sun. Later we suffer from getting too much. Drinking alcohol is the same. A husband and wife experience changing suffering in their relationship. This comes from not being satisfied. Having more and more of something does not make it better. We should be satisfied.

We need to have a revolution from this suffering. We need a revolution from the cause of suffering...delusions. Delusions are destroyed by wisdom mind. Wisdom is achieved through meditation. That is why we need to meditate. The realization of impermanence is wisdom also. There are different kinds of wisdom, e.g., to understanding the meaning of the words. Wisdom comes to us first through explanation of the word. Then through the meaning. When we know the meaning, we remove ignorance. Learning and studying are very important. But more important is the meditation on emptiness.
This is truth the of suffering. Next is the cause or source of suffering. There are two sources of suffering: karma and delusions. We need to make ourselves free from each of these. We need to destroy delusions. But we need to study first. We need to challenge our anger with patience.
This would be good for our family and our nation. Anger destroys peace. We don't want to upset others with our anger. If you think about the force of anger, then we will not want to be angry.
There is a difference between Buddhism and western psychology. Western psychology says that when you are angry, do not hold it in. Express your anger, perhaps by shouting. Do it. It will make you feel better. I don't think this is so. If you always shout when you are angry, then one day your family and friends will not want to stay with you. I don't think that this is a better way. Instead, try to learn and develop patience with others. Try to challenge your desire for things or objects: the conscious or unconscious desire of objects.
When you go to the shopping center all the time, this destroys your money. Try to be satisfied. If you have one, make that enough. This will add to your stability. Try to challenge a negative mind. Suffering comes from the source of suffering. There is truth in freedom and the path. The truth of freedom comes from truth of the path. All meditations are in the truth of the path.
Yesterday, I talked about the paths: merit path, preparation path, meditation path, seeing path and no more learning path. Without going through the paths you cannot come to a place of freedom. You must go through the path. The path is like steps to place you want to go.
Nirvana is a place where there is freedom. Now you need to know how to go through the path to Nirvana. In the beginning you need to meditate on renunciation . This will be the next topic. Therefore, we need to have the truth of the path. The truth of the path is in the steps. That's why this is a very important thing to know.
How many paths are there? Yesterday, I talked about the Hinayana and the Mahayana, the low vehicle and the high vehicle. Both of these schools have five paths.
In the Hinayana there is the Sharvaka and the Pratyeka. Both of these have five paths: the merit path, the preparation path, the meditation path, the seeing path and the no more learning path. The Mahayana path has the same paths: merit path, preparation, seeing path, meditation path and no more learning path. Within the Mahayana path there is a Sanskrit word, dasha bomme (best guess at a phonetic spelling: dasha which means the number ten, and bomme which means ground. So we will try to go through all of the Ten Grounds of the Bodhisattva Path to achieve Buddhahood. I hope you enjoy listening to this, but I think that you do not yet have a good picture of this. We really need more study. Do not think about this being too hard and complicated. It is true that Enlightenment and Buddhahood is very hard to attain, but we wish to follow the path. The same is true here. Just think, "I wish to go on this path" and it will make sense to you. Within the Bodhisattva Path there are ten different levels. These are called the Ten Grounds of the Bodhisattva.

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Renunciation
Renunciation means to sincerely wish to leave from the circumstance of samsaric existence. For example, think about the conditions of dirty, smelling, bugs. Even now, if everything is good, we must want to be free of this cyclic existence. Tremendous problems come to us from nowhere. We need to know the nature of the thoughts we have while in samsara. We suffer from sickness and war, from fear and fighting. All of these are the thoughts of samsara. When we think about these things, then we want to renounce samsara. If there is no renunciation, then there will be no freedom for us. We will always be in samsara. This is very important to know. If you think about these things, we will not develop a strong attachment to samsara. It is true that we need to have many things in samsara, but we do not need to have attachment for them. An example is a bathroom toilet. Everyone needs a toilet, but I think that no one is attached to a toilet. We need things in samsara, but we do not need to have a strong attachment for things. We need to renounce our samsaric existence.

Three Higher Trainings. The three higher trainings in Buddhism are 1) the vinaya, 2) meditation, and 3) wisdom. Or you can say three higher vehicles or three baskets: vinaya, abhidharma and Sutra.

1) vinaya (mind - morality) This is like the ground of the trainings. Our moral contract is like the earth vows. Like cleaning the environment. Make and keep natural vows discussed earlier. Reject negative actions as they come up. This is a high training.

2) abhidharma (meditation - paths) Meditation of Renunciation.
Do the Compassion and Loving Kindness Meditation for the benefit of all sentient beings, without discrimination and without exception for others. If we make an exception, then our meditation on compassion is not a great compassion meditation. It is just compassion. From a religious point of view there are no strangers and no enemies. Everyone is equal. The object of our meditation is to make all sentient beings being free from suffering and the causes of suffering.

3) wisdom (shunyata) Emptiness Meditation. There is a conscious object (yourself) and unconscious object (everything else). Nothing exists independently. All things exist through dependencies, as in the relationship between tall and short. There are impermanent and permanent objects. Take for example, tall and short. One cannot exist without the other. Phenomena exist through dependence only. Never by self existence. Everything exists dependent on other things. Think about this and try to identify what is really you. Think about yourself, and try to find what it is that is you. Doing this just one or two times is not enough. Check every day, (maybe) 100,000 times. Maybe you will get totally lost during a meditation. Some meditators grab themselves, like this (Gehse-la put his hand on his arm). This kind of behavior means that one is beginning to realize that there is no self-existing self. This does not mean that your are totally nothing. The relative self can be recognized. You should see the real relative person only relatively, not absolutely. When you see the real shunyata then you can see how things really exist.
Now, we really don't see the true nature of people, because we see things as really self existing. There are nothing that is really self existing. We can see examples of seeing reality in a wrong way: when people see two moons in the sky but there are not two moons. It is only their wrong or poor eye sight. Or when you are on a canoe or boat on the Colorado River and you see the banks and the trees rushing by you. But the trees are not really moving. These are examples that ordinary people can understand that they are seeing phenomena in a wrong way. When we realize the truth...shunyata or the emptiness of phenomena then we can really see the relative phenomena or relative person. So meditate on this.

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Taking Refuge
Tomorrow I will give Refuge Vows. It is very important, to take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. It is like the doctor, medicine and nurse. We are very much like sick people. We are not physically sick. But our condition is worse than being physically sick. Cancer and AIDS are the worst kind of physical sickness. But we have negative sickness and this is much worse than cancer or AIDS. Why? The sickness of AIDS or cancer will (result) in the loss of only this one life, and that's all. But the sickness of negativities: ignorance, desire, anger, hatred, jealousy, doubt and wrong opinion; these sicknesses are a tremendously worse disease. They destroy lots of life times hundreds of thousands of life times. These sicknesses have destroyed numberless life times for you already. If you cannot make a stop to this now, even future numberless life times will be destroyed. That's why we need to be free from the sickness. That's why we need an excellent doctor, an excellent spiritual doctor. That's why Buddha is an excellent spiritual doctor. That's why we need spiritual medicine. The teaching of the Buddha is the great medicine for the sickness of negativities. That's why we need Buddha's teachings and knowledge...and why we must take refuge. The holy beings are like the nurse. Sick people cannot move around by themselves. Even though they are given great medicine by the doctor, without help, they cannot take it by themselves. This is a good example for us. The holy beings will tell you that you must go a certain way. We will be free from sickness by taking this medicine. You must take this medicine if you want to be free from the sickness of negativities.
All of this I have shown you as an example. That is why sangha is very important. The Buddha is an excellent doctor, a spiritual doctor. Buddha's teachings show us the knowledge path. That is the excellent medicine. Then holy beings are an excellent helper, like a nurse. So that is why we need to take refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.
So who should take refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha? Those are Buddhists. I have already talked about, what is Buddhism? I have said that it is the antidote to negativities. That is Buddhism. The teachings are like the medicine and the holy beings are like the nurse. That is why we must have all three. That is why we need to take refuge. So this is also the answer to the question, who should take refuge? If you wish to be a follower of the Buddha and to be included into the community, then you should take refuge. If you take refuge, your practice will be more powerful. That's why I am going to give refuge vows.
There are five vows or commitments. Those commitments are to: stop killing others, stop stealing from others, stop sexual misconduct, stop telling lies, and stop taking alcohol. All of those are the general commitments for taking refuge. When you take refuge, it is not necessary to take all five commitments. It is important to take as many as you can. You must take at least one, I think (laughter). That is a minimum. You can chose how many you can take of the five: one, two or three. I will give you these tomorrow. If you really want to be serious and successful with your practice of Buddhism, it is best to take refuge. Put your name and address on a piece of paper and I will give you a Dharma name and I will give you a certificate for taking refuge.
That will be all for today. Now we will do the dedication. Dedication is just like a lock. That is not just my idea. It is from the teachings. It is very important, so try to remember it after your practice.
We have accomplished some positive actions today, by being here together. By the power of that, may these things happen: may the spiritual teachings of Buddhadharma remain a long time in this world. May all the real holy beings, like the Dalai Lama and the real holy masters have a long life. And may the practitioners, the men and women, monks and nuns and all those who accomplish practice so so without obstacles. In this and in any other country may nothing bad occur and may everything of good fortune occur for this world and all the beings in the world. Finally, we wish for all sentient beings to be free from great suffering and the causes of suffering, and everyone to be free of delusions and illusions and to become a Buddha being by doing the action of Dharma together.

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October 13,1996

Sunday, 9AM

Fourth Lesson


Recitation of Preceding the Seed of Wisdom Sutra, the Seed of Wisdom Sutra (Mantra) and Refuge and Development of Bodhichitta.

The Path of Enlightenment
There are different enlightenments. Maybe you think there is only one enlightenment...no. There are different kinds of enlightenment. Maybe you have heard of nirvana. Nirvana has the same meaning as enlightenment. The great nirvana is Buddhahood. That is to say, when you reach nirvana you are not completely free of negativities. Because there is illusion that remains. So when you become a Buddha, you will be free of both illusions and delusions. So, it is different...great nirvana from nirvana and great enlightenment from enlightenment. You need to know this.
We will talk about great enlightenment or how to attain great enlightenment. I think that is more important. We are now, at an intersection in the road. So we need to know where and how to go. Without Buddhism you will never reach nirvana or great nirvana, enlightenment or great enlightenment. So you need to practice Buddhism.
You need to take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Then, I think, you need to practice renunciation. This is very important. Renunciation is the key for the whole practice. I will tell you why. Taking refuge is the foundation for all Buddhist practice. Without taking refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, you cannot follow the Buddhist path. That is why taking refuge is the foundation of your practice and then you need to develop renunciation. This is the key for keeping the refuge vows.

At this point there was no recording on the tape recorder for about 10 minutes.
The following comes from written notes only.


There are Bodhisattva vows. There are the vows of the monks and nuns. The tantra vows are the highest. These are the three levels of vows

It is necessary to have an understanding of shunyata (emptiness).

The two high attainments of morality and wisdom result in enlightenment (not Great Enlightenment).

However in Mahayana Buddhism, the goal is Great Enlightenment and the key to that is bodhichitta.

There are two ways to generate bodhichitta: l) Seven Step Mind Training and 2) Exchanging self with others.

There are three lineages.
Compassion Lineage
Wisdom Lineage
Blessed Lineage

Atisha joined together the two systems of mind training and exchanging self with others.

Seven Step Mind Training. The attainment of equanimity with all sentient beings is all done through meditation.

Tape resumes.

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Affectionate Love and Great Compassion
Who do you think are strangers? Most animals are strangers to us. Hell beings, hungry ghosts, asuras, gods and most human beings are strangers to us. Of all sentient beings in all the realms, most are strangers to us. Of the three categories of friends, enemies and strangers, we must make them equal in our mind. Equanimity means having equal thoughts. Surely, you cannot make all beings equal, but you can make your thoughts about friends, enemies and strangers equal. Your friend now may be your enemy in future lives. Your enemy now may be your friend in the future. Think about everybody being your friend in the past and in the future. You do not want to harm or damage your friends.
I think equanimity practice is very important. There is no discrimination when you practice equanimity meditation. Think about all sentient beings having been you mother at one time in the past. Every being has been you mother, father, sister and brother.
Our negative minds make us crazy. It is a very bad disease. What is the reason for thinking all sentient beings have been my mother? It is because we have experienced numberless lifetimes. There are no new beings in samsara, therefore everyone has been your mother and father. The result of meditation on seeing all sentient beings as my mother is actually seeing everyone in this life time like that. We will generate an attitude toward everyone as though they are our mother.
When you've got that, then the next step is to think about "the kindness of the mothers." You need to think about the kindness of all other sentient beings as mothers. Mothers protect and care for their children, even in the womb. During birth, the mother experiences severe pain. After birth, they protect and look after the baby. They make sure their children have an education. Think about all these simple things.
Some people think that their parents were not good to them. I think this is a wrong idea. Sometimes parents use strong language or spank their children, but they do those things for the benefit of their children. Think about when you go to the doctor and they cut on you or in some way cause you pain. You know that this is meant for your condition to improve and that this pain is good for you. Try to have the same idea about parents.
Think about repaying the kindness of your parents. If you give them a house, clothing or lots of money, those will only be temporary benefits. It is very generous, but when they die, those things will not be useful. Give your parents the freedom from suffering and the cause of suffering. That is the source of the greatest happiness and joy. That is what your parents need. This is the most important thing that you can do for them. The result of this meditation will be that when you see someone then you will think that you need to repay them for their kindness.
There is a difference between loving kindness and love with attachment. Love with attachment is like when we say, "I love you." Unconditional love is having the same kind of love for everybody, friend and enemy, healthy and sick, without attachment. love without conditions is real love, just like the love you have for your father and mother.
Think about wanting everybody to be successful and knowledgeable. That is loving kindness without discrimination. To discriminate among other beings with your loving kindness is not good for you.
When you fully develop loving kindness, you will not experience jealousy. You will want the success of others. If you accomplish a good meditation practice on loving kindness, then a jealous mind will not come to you.
The next step is compassion meditation. Great compassion meditation has the same object as the loving kindness meditation: having compassion for all sentient beings, without discrimination. Think about all sentient beings. Wish for them to be free of suffering and the causes of suffering. This is the general level. But then (on the specific level) you can think about individuals. Individuals have tremendous suffering, some of which you have heard about or seen. Includes all sentient beings. Consider your family, your neighbors or areas in other countries. Include the suffering which you have seen or heard about and include all sentient beings. Think of all these individuals as being free of suffering and the causes of suffering. Think of the different kinds of suffering, the suffering of change, subtle suffering, the suffering of suffering and the causes of suffering-delusions. The result of great compassion meditation is that you will never harm other sentient beings.
Compassion is the opposite of harm. Like light and dark, harming others or having compassion for them are opposites. Light and dark cannot be together. When the light of compassion come in your mind, then the dark thoughts inside of you about hurting and damaging others cannot come in. When your thoughts of great compassion decrease, then the darkness of thoughts about harming others will arise more easily.
The next step is "more thoughts." This means "mind." At a time when you are compassionate; when you wish for sentient beings to be free of suffering and the cause of suffering, that is good. But you don't have the time to (commit), "I will do something to make sentient beings free from suffering and the cause of suffering." But, this time (with "more thought,") more power of compassion comes (to you) and only wishing is not enough. Now you need to do something yourself to make other sentient beings free from suffering and the cause of suffering. "I need to do this," is the kind of thought that you have. Then you meditate on this and it becomes more and more real. All meditation is like that. In the beginning it is difficult to become how we want to be. Meditation is just like a model or a pattern to make clothes. A pattern is not the clothing. But it is very important for the real clothes to be made.
Preparation for a painting is another example. In the beginning, you make a drawing with a pencil. But this pencil sketch is not the real painting. But it is very important to the real painting. Meditation is like this. In the beginning, meditation will not be successful in making everything real the way you want to be. But it is an important step.
Cars are made the same way. In the beginning they make a model with no engine. This is the example of the real car. Through use of the model you can make a real car.
In the beginning we imagine what we want. That is to make the idea more powerful in our mind. And then we can make our mind closer and closer to what we want. And then, one day, we can realize our goal.
Some people think that you can make things real, right in the beginning of meditation. But that is not what happens. First, you need the power to make them happen. How do you get the power to free all sentient beings from suffering? When you become a Buddha, then you will have the power to make other beings free. So, think like this: "My becoming a Buddha is only for the benefit of others, to make them free of suffering and to take them to enlightenment." When you think like this more and more power will come to you. Then you will develop Bodhichitta and begin the path of the Mahayana: the merit path, the doing path, seeing path, meditation path and no more learning path. Then their are the ten Bodhisattva paths. But, today, I do not have time to talk about these. That is the Great Enlightenment, not just enlightenment.

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The Six Perfections
The way to become a Buddha... When you have Bodhichitta then what action do you take for other sentient beings? There are numberless actions that you need to do, but all of those action are together comprise the six paramitas or six perfections. This is the real action of the Bodhisattvas.
First, there is generosity: physical generosity is like giving food, shelter, clothing or whatever is needed, without miserliness. Give to others and separate this completely from your mind. High level generosity is giving to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. However, high level beings do not need our generosity. But they accept our offerings for our benefit. There is a difference in generosity to a beggar and a high level being. High level beings do not need something for themselves, but they accept for us. Beggars accept for themselves. There is a big difference. Buddha does not need a candle. We give Buddha a light offering for clearing our ignorance. The results are different.
Then there is generosity of giving protection. If someone is fearful or frightened about going to a strange place, then they need protection. We can help make them confident. Giving someone confidence is very important. The generosity of Dharma is the best. Giving knowledge about the Dharma unconditionally, with a pure motivation is very important. Giving Dharma in order to benefit our own reputation or position is not good. Have a pure motivation.
Giving animals mantras is very powerful. They cannot understand but this is a seed for them to do and learn more, later, when they have an opportunity to encounter and understand the Dharma.
Then there is the paramita of morality. Monks and nuns have their vows and you have perhaps Bodhisattva vows or tantric vows or (if you do not have those) refuge vows. Try to stop doing the ten non-virtuous actions. Make a vow not to do them.
Paramita of patience. It is difficult in the beginning to be patient. When someone says something bad to you, there are two different ways to respond. Sometimes if you just go away it is better. Sometimes it is better to stay where you are and say nothing. Sometimes, you might say nicely "thank you." But this will sometimes make it worse. Some people may get more angry.
Patience is very important. Sometimes staying right there is better. Sometimes going away is better. You have to assess this on every occasion. Sometimes it is best not to reply, even nicely. Maybe the other person will stop (being angry). Later they may be sorry. Then you can say you are sorry, even if you are not wrong. When you say "sorry" then people may calm down. When they calm down or want to leave, then you may be able to explain your point of view, nicely (if you are not wrong).
If someone sees that they have gotten the wrong message, they may be sorry. If you will use this method with family, friends, or at the work place, you will be better. You should take the loss and give victory to others. This is a teaching from Nagarjuna's eight or ten verses. If you use this, things will be better for you.
Paramita of diligence is next. Diligence is very important for the accomplishment of our practice. If you do not have diligence, laziness will take over all your time. You want to achieve enlightenment, but your laziness may prevent it. Laziness is your great enemy, day and night. We should try to recognize this.
Some people work very hard at negative actions. This is not diligence. It is actually laziness. It gives you no time to practice Dharma. If you have diligence, then you can have whole "knowledge."
The next paramita is meditation. We have talked about meditation before. It doesn't matter what kind of meditation you do. Two things are most important. You need to develop a strong focus now. A sinking mind and excited mind are enemies of meditation. Sinking mind comes during meditation as sleeping. Some people say "foggy mind." There is nothing to see and it puts you to sleep. It destroys your meditation. You can sit for a long time with a sinking mind.
An excited mind is also not good. You may be look very good, but your mind may be jumping around and going back many years.
All meditation has an object. It may not necessarily be solid or and it may not have a form, for example, shunyata. So when you do a meditation on impermanence. You may remember the changing seasons. This shows impermanence. Or you may have portraits or pictures of your babyhood, childhood, school, teenager and of what you look like now. This is a kind of a change already. We always think of ourselves as a single being. But we are not. We are always changing form. This is real and shows impermanence of form.
Our mind is also impermanent. One pointed meditation may be on many different objects, colors or forms. Do not move to different meditation objects during a meditation session. Whatever object you meditate upon, the result comes. Stay with that one meditation object. I think single pointed meditation is good, but do not do single pointed meditation for a whole life time. When you have developed a controlled mind, then you need wisdom meditation, compassion meditation, loving kindness and bodhichitta meditation. You need to move from one to another.
Paramita of wisdom is next. There are many wisdoms. All phenomena that we know have a name and meaning. We have a wisdom of all of those. But real wisdom, the antidote of all negativities, is the wisdom of shunyata, the realization of emptiness. Shunyata is not wisdom. But the mind that perceives it is wisdom mind. It is the mind that realizes emptiness that is wisdom and wisdom is the antidote of negativities.

So, I will stop here and give the vows of refuge.

Dedication.

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