RE: Rigpa Glimpse of the Day
- "Now let's look at ultimate reality," the Dalai Lama said, pointing a little finger to his mug. "What exactly is it? We're seeing color, shape. But if we take away shape, color, material, what is mug? Where is the mug? This mug is a combination of particles: atoms, electrons, quarks. But each particle is not 'mug.' The same can be said about the four elements, the world, everything. The Buddha. We cannot find the Buddha. So that's the ultimate reality. If we're not satisfied with conventional reality, if we go deep down and try to find the real thing, we ultimately won't find it."
Thus, the Dalai Lama was saying, the mug is empty. The term "mug" is merely a label, something we use to describe everyday reality. But each mug comes into existence because of a complex web of causes and conditions. It does not exist independently. It cannot come into being by itself, of its own volition.
For example: suppose I decide to make a black mug. To do this, I mix black clay and water, shape it to my liking, and fire the resulting mixture in an oven. Clay plus water turns into a mug because of my actions. But it exists because of the myriad different ways that atoms and molecules interact. And what about me, the creator of the black mug? If my parents had never met, the black mug might never have existed.
Therefore the mug does not exist independently. It comes into being only through a complex web of relationships. In the Dalai Lama's own words, and this is the key concept in his worldview, the mug is "dependently originated." It came to be a mug because of a host of different factors, not under its own steam. It is empty. "Empty" is shorthand for "empty of intrinsic, inherent existence." Or to put it another way, empty is another word for interdependent.
--from "The Wisdom of Forgiveness: Intimate Conversations and Journeys" by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Victor Chan
Six realms of existence are identified in Buddhism: gods, demigods, humans, animals, hungry ghosts, and hells. They are each the result of one of the six main negative emotions: pride, jealousy, desire, ignorance, greed, and anger.
Looking at the world around us, and into our own minds, we can see that the six realms definitely do exist. They exist in the way we unconsciously allow our negative emotions to project and crystallize entire realms around us, and to define the style, form, flavor, and context of our life in those realms. And they exist also inwardly as the different seeds and tendencies of the various negative emotions within our psychophysical system, always ready to germinate and grow, depending on what influences them and how we choose to live.
All beings have lived and died and been reborn countless times. Over and over again they have experienced the indescribable Clear Light. But because they are obscured by the darkness of ignorance, they wander endlessly in a limitless samsara.
Everything can be used as an invitation to meditation. A smile, a face in the subway, the sight of a small flower growing in the crack of cement pavement, a fall of rich cloth in a shop window, the way the sun lights up flower pots on a windowsill. Be alert for any sign of beauty or grace. Offer up every joy, be awake at all moments, to "the news that is always arriving out of silence."
Slowly, you will become a master of your own bliss, a chemist of your own joy, with all sorts of remedies always at hand to elevate, cheer, illuminate, and inspire your every breath and movement.
The holy secret of the practice of Tonglen is one that the mystic masters and saints of every tradition know; and living it and embodying it, with the abandon and fervor of true wisdom and true compassion, is what fills their lives with joy. One modern figure who has dedicated her life to serving the sick and dying and who radiates this joy of giving and receiving is Mother Teresa. I know of no more inspiring statement of the spiritual essence of Tonglen than these words of hers:
We all long for heaven where God is, but we have it in our power to be in heaven with Him at this very moment. But being happy with Him now means:
Loving as He loves,
Helping as He helps,
Giving as He gives,
Serving as He serves,
Rescuing as He rescues,
Being with Him twenty-four hours,
Touching Him in his distressing disguise.
One of the greatest masters of Tonglen in Tibet was Geshe Chekhawa, who lived in the eleventh century. He was extremely learned and accomplished in many forms of meditation. One day when he happened to be in his teacher’s room, he came across a book lying open at the following lines:
Give all profit and gain to others,
Take all loss and defeat on yourself.
The vast and almost unimaginable compassion of these lines astounded him and he set out to find the master who had written them. One day on his journey he met a leper who told him that this master had died. But Geshe Chekhawa persevered and his long efforts were rewarded when he found the dead master’s principal disciple. Geshe Chekhawa asked this disciple: "Just how important do you think the teachings contained in these two lines are?" The disciple replied: "Whether you like it or not, you will have to practice this teaching if you truly wish to attain buddhahood."
Buddha was a human being, like you or me. He never claimed divinity, he merely knew he had the buddha nature, the seed of enlightenment, and that everyone else did too. The buddha nature is simply the birthright of every sentient being, and I always say: "Our buddha nature is as good as any buddha’s buddha nature."
It is important to remember always that the principle of egolessness does not mean that there was an ego in the first place but the Buddhists did away with it. On the contrary, it means there was never any ego at all to begin with. To realize this is called "egolessness."
When we have really grasped the law of karma in all its stark power and complex reverberations over many, many lifetimes, and seen just how our self-grasping and self-cherishing, life after life, have woven us repeatedly into a net of ignorance that seems only to be ensnaring us more and more tightly; when we have really understood the dangerous and doomed nature of the self-grasping mind’s enterprise; when we have really pursued its operations into their most subtle hiding places; when we have really understood just how our whole ordinary mind and actions are defined, narrowed and darkened by it, how almost impossible it makes it for us to uncover the heart of unconditional love, and how it has blocked in us all sources of real love and real compassion, then there comes a moment when we understand, with extreme and poignant clarity, what Shantideva said:
If all the harms
Fears and sufferings in the world
Arise from self-grasping,
What need have I for such a great evil spirit?
And then a resolution is born in us to destroy that evil spirit, our greatest enemy. With that evil spirit dead, the cause of all our suffering will be removed, and our true nature, in all its spaciousness and dynamic generosity, will shine out.
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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.