So today being the last day we will
try to also incorporate some practice, some practical methods
as there has been a few requests: how to apply the bodhicitta or how to apply
all these views of shunyata into our daily life, or more precisely how to apply
shamatha vipashana. Meditation is very personal. Meditation has to be preceded— that’s what the classic traditional
training system encourages that meditation should be preceded with
abundance of hearing and contemplation, because by the time you reach the
meditation you are completely in control. Of course it is good to
always have an instructor who could maybe challenge you,
critique you or align you. And meditation—
Yes, meditation is, as Vasubandhu said, that is ultimately how, that’s the only way
we can taste the taste of shunyata or bodhicitta. That is probably the best way
for this kind of beings like myself and you. It is not to say that meditation is the only way. And especially meditation that we know of
especially these days, that is definitely not the only way. Meditation…Also, meditation technique
itself comes in many different forms. Not just sitting straight, but it could
come in the form of dance, it could come in the form of
arranging a shrine, singing songs, arranging tea—I guess like in places
like Japan—arranging flowers. It can be as applicable as meditation while
you brush your teeth or while you drive. So meditation is very personal and very vast. Later on I will try, I will sort of just pick
one as a gesture of having… as a gesture of doing something practical
this time, we will sit for a few minutes. But before that,
I will continue with the stanzas, as this is what I’ve been requested—
to teach the Bodhicharyatara. I have been doing it fairly in a classic tradition,
going through stanzas by stanzas. I don’t know in the future generations
such way of teachings will continue because patience to dwell in each stanza
is waning now, even in the Tibetan studies. In the traditional Buddhist school
they spend more than six months just on this text, every day going through
each stanza, several stanzas. And then we read many
different commentaries. I have… As you have been noticing, I have
been visiting [the] 9th chapter again and again. This is so because I think the importance
to establish the view is humongous. It is… I think this is one aspect of Buddhist study
and eventually practice. This is one aspect that is lacking everywhere. And it’s understandable because
study of the view is very dry and very tedious and it requires a lot of intellectual analysis.
It’s not necessarily entertaining. And also somewhat you may even think
it’s not that practical to your day to day needs. But if we are to establish—not only, of course
—a genuine path of the Buddha dharma in order to use it as a means to
practice and achieve enlightenment, of course
establishing the view is important. But even academic study, for the academic study establishing
the view is THE most important I would say. I think many universities,
both in the east and the west, somehow we are now adopting
the modern way of studying Buddhism, which requires a lot of anthropological,
phileological and also history of Buddhism. Of course I will not say those are not important.
They are absolutely important, because this is where you also know
why we say things that way and this way. Some of the discussions we had yesterday
had lot do with it, I feel. For example, now it is almost half—probably
a little bit more than half a century that, well maybe loosely, if I loosely say this, Tibetan
Buddhism is sort of flourishing in the west. And where…as the Buddhism
traveled to different parts of the world you can clearly see how much it is being
interpreted through different cultures. Everything—every aspect of Buddhist studies
gets interpreted in a different way, especially… but I think all the… You can sort of relax and you can even
modify some of the Buddhist study according to the need and capacity of
different people in different culture and different, I don’t know, time. But the view, the relative and the ultimate
view of Buddhism cannot be altered. If you alter that, then it is
no more the teaching of the Buddha. It is already altered. Of course this is a free place,
you can alter however you like. It’s already happening actually:
the altering, the cherry-picking, designing Buddhism according
to a different way of thinking. But what really… The teaching of the Buddha,
what is taught by the Buddha cannot be altered. But this is difficult because to prove what
is really taught by the Buddha is difficult. Partially I would say India,
the ancient India had a…I don’t know, once upon a time it used to be a good habit
not to make notes, not to carve on rocks, but listen to the teachings and
then you learn by heart and practice. But now it is proving that…This is
proving and making Buddhist life difficult because, for instance, you know, within
the Buddhists there is lots of debate. You know just recently
when I was in Taiwan someone asked me how do we prove
that Mahayana Buddhism, which the text belongs to,
was actually taught by the Buddha. Within Buddhism there are many
Shravaka or Theravadin buddhists who will dispute Mahayana Buddhism actually probably may be not
a teaching of the Buddha. I mean what hope is there to prove Tantric
Buddhism is the teaching of the Buddha if Mahayana cannot be proved. Tantric Buddhism already….
there is a strong opponent, not only from the Theravada
but also from the Mahayana, the great traveler Xuanzuang. When he came to India and went back
to China, in his own account he has said— Well, this is what is translated in Tibetan.
This is what I read— that when he was in Uddiyana
—I guess it is the present-day Swat Valley— he saw all these magicians flying in the sky
and performing all sorts of magic, who claims that they are tantric Buddhists. And he said that we
the follower of the Buddha, for us we should not be distracted
by this kind of magic. This is only for shamanists and those who believe in this kind of supernatural
power as the supreme truth, so on and so forth. Tantric, you know… But I was telling that
the person was asking me, how do we prove that Mahayana Buddhism
is a teaching of the Buddha? If we have time, I guess we can discuss
and we can go through all the texts and we can go on and on about that,
but it won’t prove much. But the problem is how do we even
prove the whole Buddhist— I mean forget Mahayana and Tantra, even the Theravadin Buddhist,
prove that the Buddha actually taught? Where do we have… Where is the proof that Shakyamuni Buddha taught in a place
called Varanasi, called ‘Four Noble Truths.’ It could be made up. You know,
we really don’t have much evidence. Because as I said in the past,
there was no recording, recorded. Even those Abrahamic religion,
they are already suffering trying to prove. And they did quite a good job
in recording everything. But recently I was reading
an article somewhere that some of the early
Christian writings are so difficult to read. Like I guess in some of
the early writings in the Christian they don’t seem to have space in each letter, so you could read a sentence
like ‘God is now here’. The same sentence can be read
as ‘God is nowhere’. So it’s very difficult to sort of bring our
very, very limited logic and analysis. For this reason, nevertheless,
for this [reason], you know, hearing and contemplation is utmost
important before we embark on meditation, and this is what we are supposed to be doing. First of all, I don’t have
any confidence in teaching, but I have even much less confidence in
guiding somebody with the meditation. Teaching, contemplation, hearing and
we call it ’chey tsho’ (dpyad pa and rtsod pa)— argument, debate, analysis.
That is really important. This is what Lord Maitreya has encouraged.
We have to do this. And initially your own—not feeling, your own logical mind will have to come to
a conclusion that this is the truth. This makes sense that
this is the path that you will follow. For that you need to be equipped
with enough hearing and contemplation and that is what we are supposed to be doing. And as I said, it is…
Again, we have a lot of challenge. I’m getting a little distracted here. I was talking about how in the West now Tibetan Buddhism has been
there for about half a century, but the local habit, cultural habit
and also religious habit, many in the West they have somehow,
one way or another, even the atheist,
those who claims to be atheist, they somehow one way or another
have habitual residue on Christianity, some sort of theistic thinking. It’s not like… Even though
they may be not born in a Christian family, even though you may never
be grown up as a Christian, but the whole environment, everything— We are talking about the fact that
you have a holiday on Sunday, fact that you are
celebrating Christmas, Thanksgiving, all of this somehow creates an almost
invisible habitual and cultural culture. And when we pour Buddhism into that,
there is a difficulty, there’s really a difficulty. I have been teaching in the West
for some time, and many times I have a challenge
to teach non-duality. As much as the concept such as non-duality
and emptiness is so intellectually impressive— because it is very deductive,
it is very deconstructing, especially the modern philosophers,
they love this. But then the danger is it gets interpreted
very, very subtly into something very nihilist. Even the choice of words—you know, there is now a big awareness
about what we should choose, the word between
interdependent or dependent arising. Because interdependent,
the choice of the word interdependent, now we feel that sometimes the way the
Westerners understand the interdependent actually is not really portraying
the Madhyamika’s dependent… the essence of the dependent arising. Interdependent and dependent arising. Words like compassion,
words like confession, as we have read in the Bodhicharyavatara
in the initial stage, it means something different to
different cultures. Every time we talk about…
Okay, let’s say in tantric Buddhism we have like practice of confession
like Vajrasattva mantra, so on and so forth. And the way the Abrahamic background people,
the way they hear, the way they interpret: negative emotions,
very close to the idea of sin. Also Buddha nature, first of all, presenting the Buddha nature
to many of this cultural background is difficult. It ends up… Somehow it’s easier to convince everything is
emptiness to certain cultural background people. It’s much more difficult to convince
that your basic nature is Buddha. It’s so difficult to convince. And many times they get inspired by that. They get so high when you say,
‘Oh, I have the Buddha nature.’ But that is very dangerous because I don’t know
with what reason they are getting high. If it is a right reason,
then we are very happy. But it could be something else. That kind of high, blissed out, you know, so dangerous. It could…
It’s again falling into sort of eternalist habit. Now I’m talking about the West
and how the West interprets. But this is not only in the West as it has…
You know, we have been discussing yesterday. Even in India, I would say if there is one gene or one species that
can chew and digest non-dualism, it has to be Indians. I have said this before: Indians can—I think—hear, be at home,
digest, taste the idea of non-dualism. I’m very interested in the choice of words
of non-duality or shunyata in Chinese, and also in Japanese because many time again with the Chinese, the morality and
ethic and also the habit of ancestor worship, all of this does have an influence on
understanding words from people like Shantideva. It does. But going back to the Indian, one would think, and I still think
the Indians would actually, you know, I mean this a country
where you have serene looking gods and then suddenly you have
gods with a monkey face, all fits well. This is a country where giant gods
sit on a lotus and the lotus is not crushed, and no Indians even bother
to ask and think, ‘How come? This big deity is sitting on this
small lotus and lotus is still intact.’ ‘Isn’t there a sort of mathematical
—what do you call it—mistake here?’ They don’t… So you have that habit.
You have that in genes. But as we talked yesterday,
I think again down the line there seems to be lot of different
interpretations of karma and rebirth. And I think, if we have time later on,
we are going to be discussing this later on. Among the Buddhists in India, their interpretation
of karma, their interpretation of rebirth, based on what they think Hindus are interpreting, and therefore the consequences of that,
there seems to be a lot of that. So many times we will have to just do more
hearing and more contemplation and more study to really get across what is meant—
when a Tibetan teacher says karma and rebirth, what is meant, what does he really mean, and how an Indian is conceiving this— how an Indian is understanding this,
how a Westerner is understanding this. Because, you know, as I was saying yesterday
like for the Somalian solid means liquid. If…if the word karma,
when you hear the word karma, if you hear it as synonymous to emptiness,
you are very good. Then it is really getting close to the
understanding of the Buddhist concept of karma. If you are hearing karma based on
some sort of predestined or free will, then your karmic understanding is—
I would say, not really according to the Buddhas because predestined, free will,
both seem to have a dualistic stain, like something you cannot change
or you can do whatever you like. But if the karma is understood
as I said yesterday, for the Madyamakans anything that is… the moment you hear the word cause,
condition and effect, they hear as unborn. Likewise, when you hear the word karma, if you can somehow train yourself to think
that this word is synonymous to emptiness. Because until you have a background of
emptiness, karma won’t work. If the emptiness is taken out, karma will
end up becoming almighty creator. It will become a burden. This kind of understanding
needs to be established. And you know, by and large
in the shastras such as this, you will…if you study this,
you will learn these things. And, then I think that’s the only way
to sort of habituate ourselves and sort of—I don’t know—strengthen
our spiritual life, our spiritual path. Because otherwise just like in the West,
I think even in India, the base for huge misunderstanding
—I’m just beginning to realize these things— base of [a] very big misunderstanding
seems to be there. For instance, like a precious human body, that you remember Shantidevi has been talking
about how this body, this spoiled body, you know, you should give this spoiled body
this a little bit of wage, make him work for you. Don’t work for this body
[because] body spoiled, all of that. Then towards the end, you can make use of
this body as a means to help others. If you do that, your body will become
priceless jewel, precious human body. When we talk about that, clearly we are
not talking about caste here. So based on what we have discussed
yesterday during the question and answer, if you have a good karma— and what do we mean by good karma
from the Buddhist sense? What do we mean by good karma? Someone who is closer to the truth. That’s the fundamental way of
judging the good karma. Someone like Milarepa, he will not look at
Bill Gates and see what a product of good karma. He will look at someone like Bill Gates and see, ‘Wow, may I never ever be reborn
even as his pet.’ Because for someone like Milarepa,
the most important is to understand the truth. And by being reborn in higher caste,
higher birth, richer family, whatever, you know, more affluent, powerful, means you have less chance
to get close to the truth. Lesser chance. So as you can see, the higher birth
and the lower birth is very much based on who has the ability to see the truth
and also help other sentient beings. That’s how the Buddhists would think. So in this sense, many times
it could be your good karma to be reborn as so-called—
by a society—a low caste, because you are more likely
to be closer to the truth than deceived by wealth and power
and so on and so forth. I’m just saying that to really study
the Buddhist philosophy and Buddhist view and therefore Buddhist methods, I think we have to have awareness
of all these situations. Okay, so now if I continue the text,
we begin with the sixth chapter. And in this chapter we talk about patience,
which is one of the six paramitas. Tolerance, patience. Okay, tolerance—the most supreme
tolerance is tolerance to the truth. We call it ‘mi kye way cho la zopa thob pa’, tolerance to the truth of unborn or
shunyata or emptiness. That is the most difficult tolerance
one can establish or one can achieve. In order to achieve this supreme tolerance, we then first go through
the relative tolerance, which is going against
clinging to the self-cherishing, and therefore against the aggression. So we hear Shantideva saying: A single aggression could destroy thousands
of lifetimes’ or eons’ virtue instantly. Therefore, there is nothing that is
more hideous than aggression. And with the same reason, there is no greater
penance than the practice of patience. For this reason, the bodhisattva must
again and again try to train mind in strengthening
the patience or the tolerance. If we keep grudge or discontent in our heart,
peace is almost impossible to arise. And if there is no peace,
joy and bliss will not happen. You will also lose your sleep and
you will not become stable. Even though you may be generous and caring, if you are not tolerant, we have observed that
even the servant can revolt towards you. Having lack of tolerance
will discourage friends and relatives and create sadness among them. Even though your generosity can
magnetize them, if you don’t have tolerance, after magnetizing them, you will not
be able to maintain them with you. To be precise, there is no evidence
that through the aggression comes bliss. Therefore a bodhisattva must know by putting effort in combating
the aggression again and again, the bodhisattva will be joyful in this life
and also in the next life. To generate the tolerance, first the bodhisattva must always
watch out to this discontented mind. If discontented or unease mind, if there is an obstacle in our life, immediately
one has to learn to be content and learn to be, learn to shorten the uneasiness, because if you don’t,
then this feeling of discontent, feeling of unhappy will become a vessel
or become a cause for the aggression to grow. Therefore one must try to remove
the sustenance of the aggression, which is this discontented or unhappy mind. Again and again the bodhisattva must
tell himself that the only job the aggression has
is to stir me and destroy me. Therefore, I shall never bow down
to this aggression. Such way the bodhisattva must train themself. And then bodhisattva must keep on
thinking even though we lose our temper, there’s very little evidence that losing the temper actually accomplishes
what you need to accomplish. Moreover, losing the temper opens the door for destroying all the virtuous
thoughts and actions. Bodhisattva must remind himself if you can alter and mend what is being broken,
then what is the point to be unhappy? But if what is broken cannot be mended,
if you are hurt or if you are crushed, if you are mishandled and
if that cannot be mended, then what is the point of being unhappy? Ordinarily we think we don’t wish to
hear anything unpleasant. We don’t want to hear.
We don’t want our friends to hear this. We don’t want our relatives to hear this. And usually we don’t mind or we are happy
if our enemy hears unpleasant things. Cause of the happiness is very rare
and only arises occasionally. Cause of the unhappiness is abundance.
It comes at all times. When the bodhisattva gets hurt,
when the bodhisattva suffers, when the bodhisattva is mistreated,
bodhisattva must remember that without the suffering the bodhisattva will not have renunciation
or revulsion towards samsara. In this way the bodhisattva must try to
stabilize the bodhisattva’s mind. Even for a meager achievement of
higher rebirth or prosperity, etc. people who follow—I think this is a goddess—
Karnapa and probably Uma, who worships these worldly deities with
sacrificing, they go through all sorts of penance. You, the bodhisattva who has pledged
yourself to liberate all sentient beings, how can you not practice the tolerance? And bodhisattva must remember that
everything eventually can be tolerated because no matter what happens, there is
nothing that cannot be accustomed to. So first the bodhisattva must learn to appreciate in being tolerant to
small downfall or suffering. And then gradually bodhisattva must learn to be patient and tolerant
to bigger suffering or downfall. A bodhisattva must learn to
not give in to small discomfort because if you give in to… if you can’t tolerate small discomfort
like heat, cold, wind, if you cannot… if you don’t learn to be tolerant
with this kind of discomfort, then the strength of tolerance
will become weakened. And then as the bigger suffering or
pain or discomfort arise, the bodhisattva will not be able to face. Bodhisattva must learn this way
by tolerating small incidents, discomforts. By doing that, gradually
the bodhisattva will develop the courage. In this world sometimes
when you see your own blood flowing, some people get even more courageous. Others by seeing another person’s blood,
they faint. This proves that the character or
the strength can be developed and trained. Therefore, try to always overcome. It’s almost like to be mean to this wishing
to be free from small discomfort. Again and again, make sure that
small discomforts are not taking you over. When the bodhisattva battles
with these discomforts and obstacles, of course the bodhisattva will
face more obstacles. As the more obstacles…
as the obstacles increases, the bodhisattva must also encourage
himself to increase or to strengthen his sort of ratio of patience and tolerance. That way the bodhisattva can be labeled
as the warrior or the courageous one. Otherwise it is like stabbing a dead body. Similarly, the gift of the suffering is
the suffering creates sadness, and sadness will dent your pride. And through this sadness you can also
have empathy towards those who suffer. And through the suffering you will also gradually learn to refrain from
the cause of suffering, which is the non-virtue. You will then begin to learn to put emphasis
on the cause of the happiness, which is the virtue. Now more reasons why we should be tolerant. We must…A bodhisattva must
be tolerant to other sentient beings because these beings are in themselves
a slave of their own emotions and ailment. When one gets sick with like jaundice
or headache or whatever, why don’t we lose
our temper to these disease? Why do we have to single out the obstacles
that those who possess mind? Meaning why do you have to
be angry to those who are… Why do you have to be angry, why you have to be impatient to
someone who has mind? Why not to something that
does not have mind? All these ailments such as jaundice,
heart disease, headache, they also come because of
cause and condition. Without wanting,
even though we do not desire, when the cause and condition comes,
these sufferings they appear. Likewise all these hostile sentient beings,
your enemies, they are also without them really wanting to, their own
emotion takes over their mind state, and then that’s how they also are powerless. Most of these sentient beings,
they don’t wish to be angry, but because they are under
the spell of cause and condition, even without wishing they lose their temper. All the downfall,
all the negative emotions and actions, they all arise
because of cause and conditions. These beings have no control
over cause and conditions. Cause and conditions also in itself they have no intention to be the cause
and condition of suffering. And then here Shantideva talks about this is some of the sarcasm,
occasional sarcasm here. There is no god, there is no self that is
intentionally creating these emotions. Therefore all these emotions arises
due to dependent arising, due to cause and conditions—not an ultimately
truly existing, original cause and conditions. Remembering this,
bodhisattva must tolerate because the bodhisattva, having these information of
cause and condition, this information about shunyata, must remember when you face a hostile
person or an obstacle, remembering that this person is
under the spell of cause and condition, must generate the tolerance. Because intolerance or impatience is
like the cause of all the downfall. Okay, we will take a break here
—tea break.