RE: Rigpa Glimpse of the Day
- The Sanskrit word for compassion, "karuna," has the implication of "that
which blocks or prevents bliss." In general, when we develop compassion, we
develop very strongly the attitude that cannot bear the suffering of other
beings. We wish for it to end and for them to become free. Although we do
not actually experience others' suffering at that time, the strength of the
attitude that cannot bear their suffering causes our mind also to become
unhappy. This is the general sense in which compassion blocks bliss....
Only the power of a union of method and wisdom - namely the union of
compassion, as a greatly blissful awareness, and the discriminating
awareness of voidness - allows us to attain the total release of supreme
nirvana, namely enlightenment.
-- from "The Gelug/Kagyu Tradition of Mahamudra," by His Holiness the Dalai
Lama and Alexander Berzin, published by Snow Lion Publications
To contemplate impermanence on its own is not enough: You have to work with
it in your life. Let�s try an experiment. Pick up a coin. Imagine that it
represents the object at which you are grasping. Hold it tightly clutched in
your fist and extend your arm, with the palm of your hand facing the ground.
Now if you let go or relax your grip, you will lose what you are clinging
to. That�s why you hold on.
But there�s another possibility: You can let go and yet keep hold of it.
With your arm still outstretched, turn your hand over so that it faces the
sky. Release your hand and the coin still rests on your open palm. You let
go. And the coin is still yours, even with all this space around it.
So there is a way in which we can accept impermanence and still relish life,
at one and the same time, without grasping.
Above all else, we need to nourish our true self�what we can call our buddha
nature�for so often we make the fatal mistake of identifying with our
confusion, and then using it to judge and condemn ourselves, which feeds the
lack of self-love that so many of us suffer from today.
How vital it is to refrain from the temptation to judge ourselves or the
teachings, and to be humorously aware of our condition, and to realize that
we are, at the moment, as if many people all living in one person.
And how encouraging it can be to accept that from one perspective we all
have huge problems, which we bring to the spiritual path and which indeed
may have led us to the teachings, and yet to know from another point of view
that ultimately our problems are not so real or so solid, or so
insurmountable as we have told ourselves.
If all we know of mind is the aspect of mind that dissolves when we die, we
will be left with no idea of what continues, no knowledge of the new
dimension of the deeper reality of the nature of mind. So it is vital for us
all to familiarize ourselves with the nature of mind while we are still
alive. Only then will we be prepared for the time when it reveals itself
spontaneously and powerfully at the moment of death; be able to recognize it
�as naturally,� the teachings say, �as a child running into its mother�s
lap�; and by remaining in that state, finally be liberated.
Ego plays brilliantly on our fundamental fear of losing control, and of the
unknown. We might say to ourselves: �I should really let go of ego, I�m in
such pain; but if I do, what�s going to happen to me?�
Ego will chime in sweetly: �I know I�m sometimes a nuisance, and believe me,
I quite understand if you want me to leave. But is that really what you
want? Think: If I do go, what�s going to happen to you? Who�ll look after
you? Who will protect and care for you like I�ve done all these years?�
Even if we see through the lies of the ego, we are just too scared to
abandon it; for without any true knowledge of the nature of our mind, or
true identity, we simply have no other alternative. Again and again we cave
in to ego�s demands with the same sad self-hatred as the alcoholic feels
reaching for the drink that he knows is destroying him, or the drug addict
feels groping for the drug that she knows after a brief high will only leave
her flat and desperate.
Don�t be in too much of a hurry to solve all your doubts and problems. As
the masters say: �Make haste slowly.� I always tell my students not to have
unreasonable expectations, because it takes time for spiritual growth. It
takes years to learn Japanese properly or to become a doctor. Can we really
expect to have all the answers, let alone become enlightened, in a few
The spiritual journey is one of continuous learning and purification. When
you know this, you become humble. There is a famous Tibetan saying: �Do not
mistake understanding for realization, and do not mistake realization for
liberation.� And Milarepa said: �Do not entertain hopes for realization, but
practice all your life.�
If this elephant of mind is bound on all sides by the cord of mindfulness,
All fear disappears and complete happiness comes.
All enemies: all the tigers, lions, elephants, bears, serpents (of our emotions);
And all the keepers of hell; the demons and the horrors,
All of these are bound by the mastery of your mind,
And by the taming of that one mind, all are subdued,
Because from the mind are derived all fears and immeasurable sorrows.