RE: Rigpa Glimpse of the Day
- Howard Cutler: "Have there been situations in your life that you've
Dalai Lama: "Oh, yes. Now for instance there was one older monk who lived as
a hermit. He used to come to see me to receive teachings, although I think
he was actually more accomplished than I and came to me as a sort of
formality. Anyway, he came to me one day and asked me about doing a certain
high-level esoteric practice. I remarked in a casual way that this would be
a difficult practice and perhaps would be better undertaken by someone who
was younger, that traditionally it was a practice that should be started in
one's midteens. I later found out that the monk had killed himself in order
to be reborn in a younger body to more effectively undertake the
Surprised by this story, I remarked, "Oh, that's terrible! That must have
been hard on you when you heard..." The Dalai Lama nodded sadly. "How did
you deal with that feeling of regret? How did you eventually get rid of it?"
The Dalai Lama silently considered for quite a while before replying, "I
didn't get rid of it. It's still there. But even though that feeling of
regret is still there, it isn't associated with a feeling of heaviness or a
quality of pulling me back. It would not be helpful to anyone if I let that
feeling of regret weigh me down, be simply a source of discouragement and
depression with no purpose, or interfere with going on with my life to the
best of my ability."
At that moment, in a very visceral way, I was struck once again by the very
real possibility of a human being's fully facing life's tragedies and
responding emotionally, even with deep regret, but without indulging in
excessive guilt or self-contempt. The possibility of a human being's wholly
accepting herself or himself, complete with limitations, foibles, and lapses
of judgment. The possibility of recognizing a bad situation for what it is
and responding emotionally, but without overresponding. The Dalai Lama
sincerely felt regret over the incident he described but carried his regret
with dignity and grace. And while carrying this regret, he has not allowed
it to weigh him down, choosing instead to move ahead and focus on helping
others to the best of his ability.
--from "The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living" by His Holiness the
Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D.
In meditation, as in all arts, there has to be a delicate balance between
relaxation and alertness. Once a monk called Shrona was studying meditation
with one of Buddha�s closest disciples. He had difficulty finding the right
frame of mind. He tried very hard to concentrate, and gave himself a
headache. Then he relaxed his mind, but so much that he fell asleep. Finally
he appealed to Buddha for help.
Knowing that Shrona had been a famous musician before he became a monk,
Buddha asked him: �Weren�t you a vina player when you were a layperson?�
�How did you get the best sound out of your vina? Was it when the strings
were very tight or when they were very loose?�
�Neither. When they had just the right tension, neither too taut nor too
�Well, it�s exactly the same with your mind.�
In horror of death, I took to the mountains�
Again and again I meditated on the uncertainty of the hour of death,
Capturing the fortress of the deathless unending nature of mind.
Now all fear of death is over and done.
The teachings tell us what it is we need to realize, but we also have to go
on our own journey, in order to come to a personal realization. That journey
may take us through suffering, difficulties, and doubts of all kinds, but
they will become our greatest teachers. Through them we will learn the
humility to recognize our limitations, and through them we will discover the
inner strength and fearlessness we need to emerge from our old habits and
set patterns, and surrender into the vaster vision of real freedom offered
by the spiritual teachings.
We are so addicted to looking outside ourselves that we have lost access to
our inner being almost completely. We are terrified to look inward, because
our culture has given us no idea of what we will find. We may even think
that if we do, we will be in danger of madness. This is one of the last and
most resourceful ploys of ego to prevent us from discovering our real
So we make our lives so hectic that we eliminate the slightest risk of
looking into ourselves. Even the idea of meditation can scare people. When
they hear the words egoless or emptiness, they think that experiencing those
states will be like being thrown out the door of a spaceship to float
forever in a dark, chilling void. Nothing could be further from the truth.
But in a world dedicated to distraction, silence and stillness terrify us;
we protect ourselves from them with noise and frantic busyness. Looking into
the nature of our mind is the last thing we would dare to do.
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.