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by Venerable Khenchen Konchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche

Ngöndro Program 2001

Ratnashri Meditation Center, Sweden


Three things are important when it comes to the study and practice of the Dharma (Buddha’s teaching), namely, cultivating altruistic thought, the actual action and dedication at the end. First, cultivating the altruistic thought means that the motivation for studying and practicing the Dharma is for the benefit of all sentient beings. It resembles cooking. Before we cook, we have to think about why and to whom we are cooking for. We need to have some motivation. Say, in your mind, you want to cook a delicious meal for your friends. Then you have to think about what you are going to cook. You gather all the ingredients and then perform the actual cooking. Then at the end dedicate the delicious meal to all your friends. Likewise, to study and practice the Dharma, first we need to have altruistic motivation -- for the benefit of all sentient beings. Then we have to know what Dharma is, what to study and practice and how to practice. This is called preparation. Preparation is essential because if you do not have any idea of what to study and practice, you cannot put it into action. Then to accomplish the motivation, you need to do the actual study. Like cooking, just thinking in the mind will not bring about the delicious meal. Likewise, we need to do the actual Dharma study and practice in order to get the benefit that you have planned. At the end of our Dharma study and practice, we dedicate whatever merit, virtue we have gathered. We do not keep it all by ourselves but dedicate it to all sentient beings who desire to gain peace and happiness and free from suffering. We share all so that we are not attached to what we have practiced. So motivation, actual action and dedication are important.

Buddha is most important because without Buddha, there is no Dharma teaching. Without Buddha who attained the perfection of wisdom and compassion, enlightenment, he could not give us methods to free ourselves from the suffering. Buddha renounced the powerful Kingdom because he was not attached to himself. He wanted to do something for all other sentient beings. To him, the Kingdom was the best place to stay because he could enjoy the power, wealth, all kinds of services and luxurious things. However, just staying in the Kingdom is not sufficient to help other sentient beings. He renounced the Kingdom, went through the hardship and finally attained enlightenment and then started giving teachings.

Basically what Buddha taught was that right from the beginning, avoid any form of non-virtue - physically and mentally. It is because non-virtue is a cause of suffering for all sentient beings, whether we know it or not. For example, telling lie, everybody in the whole world, regardless of religious or cultural background knows that it is not good. Even if you do not belief in anything, still, people think that lying is not good. It is universal. Buddha seeing that nature, taught us to avoid all non-virtues because they create delusion or negative thoughts.

Taking refuge in the Dharma means that I do not want to create any types of non-virtue which is the cause of suffering and engage in the virtuous actions and thought because they are the cause of peace and harmony. If you are speaking the truth all the time, you have self-confidence and have no fear even when somebody accuses you. When you lie, you have fear because you have to think about how you should hide this and that, one after another. Suffering follows from that. Even if other people do not know, deep inside your heart, you feel fear insecure. If you tell the truth, not only do you feel confident, but also when other people see that you always tells the truth, there is a trust and there is harmony. This is the reason why he told us to avoid all non-virtue and develop all the virtuous thoughts and actions. After that, Buddha explained what are the non-virtues and what are the virtues. Through that, the mind is totally tamed. Our mind is like a wild elephant. A wild elephant can be very dangerous and can destroy the whole field. Likewise, a wild mind can destroy all the field of peace and harmony. Then we feel miserable. We do not realize how we did it by ourselves, but we blame other people. So, it is important to tame and train the mind. This is Buddha’s teaching. This is why we take refuge in the Dharma. Buddha revealed completely the true nature of the universe and from that state of wisdom, he taught these Dharma teachings Therefore, Dharma is good right at the beginning, in the middle and at the end.

When you study Dhrama for some time, you may hear some very high-level teachings like mahamudra teachings and instructions. Those are for advanced practitioners whose mind has already reached a high state of realization. At that state, there is nothing to give up and nothing to achieve. In order to realize that, we have to start with avoiding all nonvirtues and develop all the virtuous actions and thoughts. With that, we build the strength of the mind. When the mind has strength, it is unwavering. When the mind is stable like a mountain, it is clear, calm and peaceful. In that state of mind, there is nothing to purify, nothing to give up and nothing to accept because you have everything in your mind. Sometimes, people missunderstand and project outward thinking that there is nothing to give up from the outside and nothing to gain from the outside.

Buddha, in the state of mind of knowing the complete nature of all the phenomena in the whole universe, taught these Dharma teachings. Dharma is always good, right from the beginning, in the middle and at the end. Dharma is like medicine. Buddha performed so many activities in his life, but Dharma teaching is one of the most important activities. Dharma teaching has carried on now for more than 2500 years. Still Dharma is so fresh today, so relevant. More than 2500 years ago, non-virtue was non-virtue, still now, non-virtue is non-virtue. It is still a cause of suffering. Virtue was virtue at that time and was a cause of peace and harmony. It is still true. The law of universe never changes. Like fire, it has been hot right from the beginning. It is still hot right now and it will still be hot in the future. There isn’t any time that fire gets cold. This helps us to open our mind fully to see that universal nature. It is very important to understand that.

When we study Dharma, we do not study Dharma from the culture point of view. From the culture point of view, there are lots of material things and activities. We have to study Dharma from the universal prospective to see why Dharma is relevant to everybody, everywhere and all the time. Buddha gave Dharma teaching in India, but then Dharma went to all over Asia. In the second century, Dharma was popular in all the Asian countries. It went to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Russia, Southeast Asia etc. Nowadays, you can still find Buddha’s statue in those countries.

Suffering like aging, sickness and death is universal. We called that suffering because we perceive it as suffering and we dislike that. Our aversion brings suffering. Otherwise, aging is neutral and sickness is also neutral. How much pain we get depends on how we perceive it mentally. That is how mind is powerful. Mind can significantly change your perception. Dharma helps us to understand that. For example, the suffering of aging. Buddha taught us to avoid all the nonvirtuous thoughts like attachment and hatred. When you purify all the non-virtuous thoughts, when you age, you do not suffer. It is just a process and is neutral. There are some great teachers who age joyfully and when they die, they die happily. For those great Dharma practitioners, dying is enlightenment. It is just at process, like growing crops in the field. First, the seed is being sown, then the crop grows and finally ripes, ready for harvest. It goes on and on. Like that, we are born one day, grow up and then get old and die. Going through life is just a process. But from the cultural point of view, it depends on many conditions, for example, which society you belong to and then comes many different ways of life, depending on which emphasis you have. Then when you get old, you get depress because you are thinking from the prospective of the people in the country. You have to think about the reaction of the people, status, and there comes your own grasping and duality thoughts one after another. Like that, we suffer. Dharma helps us to transcend all these. So you see how Dharma is important and precious to all of us. That is why we take refuge in the Dharma.

We have three basic delusion - ignorance, hatred (or aversion or anger) and attachment (or desire). These are the three basic mental delusion, obscurations and negative thoughts that everybody in the samsara has. Whether you are American, German, English, Swedish or elsewhere, we are dominated by these negative thoughts. In fact, all of these three have to coexist. It cannot exist one without the other. For example, if I am ignorant on the interdependent causes and conditions on the existence of this instrument bell. Through ignorance, I perceive that this bell is something solid and concrete. I do not realize that there are many other coexisting causes and conditions. In that state of mind, because of delusion, when I look at this beautiful bell, it is so wonderful and I am attached to it. So, attachement comes. If somebody steals it, I get very upset and angry. However, if I am not attached to it, even if somebody steals it, it would not border me so much. This is how these three are related to each other. This is just an example, but it applies to all things and to anybody. When I perceive myself as solid, concrete or someone very important. Then I am making boundary for "my". This is my family, my belongings,…. Because I am so attached to all these, if somebody takes it away and hurts that, I would not like it and get angry. All the confusion arises from there. This is universal. Even when it comes to religion. We say, this is my religion. I am so attached to my religion that if somebody says some bad things about my religion, I will try all I can to protect it saying, "Why do you say this? My religion is perfect." This is what Buddha was trying to break that and purify that. Even though Buddhism is good, there is no reason to attach to it. You just have to practice it and realize it. Sometimes, when we do not practice and say buddhism is so good. You are so proud to be a buddhist and you fight back and forth with others. Buddha saw that and said, "May be I should not give any Dharma teachings. I give Dharma teachings for people to practice to free themselves from suffering and not create more suffering. There is already enough causes of suffering in the world. Why should religion be yet another cause of suffering?" So Buddha felt sad about that. Talking about attachment, sometimes even monks get attached to the robe. Buddha order the robe to remind themselves the renounication of samsara. Sometimes we become monk or nun and like to wear the robe. Instead of releasing attachment, we attach to the robe. I am sure you have heard about the life story of Milarepa. He was a great teacher who came to Tibet around the 11th century. His life stories are extraordinary. He trained his mind so vigorous that he attained enlightenment in one lifetime. His life stories are so inspiring and popular that they are translated into twelve to thirteen different languages and have inspired lots of people. Milarepa wore just one piece of very old white cloth. Some people came to visit him, saw his poor lifestyle and asked him what he was practicing. Milarepa practiced sincerely and realized perfectly what Buddha taught. He transcended and destroyed all types of delusion. Therefore, we need to understand thoroughly the meaning of Dharma, its purpose and then practice it as much as we can. This is most important.

When we bring Dharma into our heart, meditate on it and practice it sincerely, it brings calm and purity. Dharma means peace in Sanskrit. It also means to protect the mind from non-virtuous thoughts. Dharma means also means virtue, virtuous practice and peaceful practice. In order to purify the three basic delusion, namely, ignorance, aversion and attachment, Buddha taught these three categories of teachings - Vinaya, Sutra and Abhidharma. Vinaya teaching emphases on avoiding all nonvirtuous thoughts and actions. It deals entirely with discipline - how to discipline the body, speech and mind. Sutra teaching emphases on engaging in the practice of all virtuous thoughts and actions. It deals with how to meditate and all the meditative states of the mind. Abhidharma teaching emphases on totally taming and perfecting the mind. It explains the wisdom side of the mind.

There are three trainings to these teachings. Moral ethics or discipline called Shila; meditation or meditative concentration called Samadhi ; and special insight or critical insight called prajna. At the beginning, we need discipline - physical and mental discipline. It is like going to school, there is discipline for us to follow. You are allowed to do this and not allowed to do that. Discipline is necessary because through that, one can learn to take responsibility and take on to different rolls. When it comes to Dharma practice, discipline is to avoid all non-virtues and perform all virtuous actions and thoughts. Buddha knew and realized that non-virtues are the causes of our suffering. Therefore, he taught us to avoid all non-virtues. Avoiding all non-virtues through physical discipline includes not taking life, not taking things from others which do not belong to us and not engage in sexual misconduct. Verbal discipline includes not using harsh words, not telling lies, no idle talk nor no divisive talk. Using harsh words are like using knives, they pierce the mind and cut into the heart. They destroy peace and joy in the mind and the result will eventually bring back to us. We have already discussed how telling lies brings fear. Gossiping is not good. Sometimes we talk so much especially when we do not feel so good after our work and we do not know what to do, we just pick up the phone and talk for a long time. After all that, you still do not feel good. Your mind is so busy thinking, "I have said this and that. He said this and that. I should not have said these things…" Mind is occupied with all that one after another. At that moment, mantra is so useful. Instead of talking on the phone, you chant mantra like "OM MANI PADMI HUNG" or "OM AH HUNG". It is like talking and you are releasing your tension by chanting. Saying things to divide people bring no peace and harmony. Disciplining the mind includes avoid greediness, harmful and negative thoughts and wrong views. These are some of the disciplines that Buddha made. These discipline serves as an outline on how we should train ourselves. Like in school, the teacher gives us outline, some idea of what and how to do things. Buddha made those outline. It is universal. If everybody has interest in keeping those discipline in a country, how peaceful the country will be regardless of what religion or culture we are in.

In order to keep the discipline well, we need to train our mind to be mindful. Whenever we have mindfulness, we are in meditative state. If you just say, "Keep these discipline!" without training, it is very difficult. It is like trying to put a wild poisonous snake inside a narrow bamboo. Since the snake has not trained well in the mind, the snake will never be able to settle down and be peaceful. So the second training is called the meditative state or meditation. Meditation is not just close the eyes and sit there. Meditation means training the mind, bringing antidote to the mind, practicing it well and finally actualizing and experiencing it. Training the mind, for example, when we are talking about I or myself, strong ego comes in and starts making boundary. First examine where ego exists. It is just a notion in the mind, it does not exist in the body. If it exists in the body, is it on the hands, head, legs, chest or other parts. So it does not exist in the body. It does not exist by my name either because the name you got after you are born. Your name was given by somebody else. So if somebody calls your name and says bad things, you should not be upset because your name is just a sound, it does not exist substantially. The name itself is neutral. It can be changed and it does not hurt anything, so let go. Name is temporary. The mind, I do not see where it exists so how come I have so strong attachment to the ego. It is just level, just name - me, mine etc. So try to relax and release the grasping of ego because such strong attachment to ego is the cause of all suffering. Since I do not want suffering, I have to learn to release this attachment and grasping of ego. This is called the training of the mind. In this way, mind gets peace. When the mind is peaceful, we can keep the discipline better. They support each other. So when somebody causes you to be angry, that person suffers too. As I am deluded, that person is also deluded. So the person who is deluded and suffering is a subject to compassion, not a subject to anger. If I develop anger, instead of reducing suffering, it brings more suffering. Suffering to that person and suffering to me, so it serves no purpose and it is not right. Release anger and attachment to ego. This is an example of how to train the mind to be in the meditative state to bring mindfulness. See the impermanent and transitory nature in all things. Like at day-break, the sun shines and at dawn, the sun set. It goes on everyday without stopping. So in the morning when you see the sunrises, it is a sign of impermanence, constantly changing and never stopping, it goes down towards the west. Then darkness comes and night again is a sign of impermanence, it never stops. The same way, we are all marching towards death since the day we are born. So I will definitely die one day. This is not being negative, but rather, it is a special method of contemplation to reduce attachment, delusion, hatred and anger. One day I will die so what the benefit is to fight for all these, what the benefit is to attach to all these. I create suffering unnecessarily without much benefit. Further, he taught us how to free from suffering by releasing attachment and to appreciate and rejoice whatever you have. "I am so fortunate to have this." "OH, I have a lunch." Just rejoice and appreciate what we have make us feel good. When you rejoice and appreciate everything around us, there will be less hatred and anger in the mind. When the positive side gets release and stronger, the negative side gets less and less and delusion becomes less. When negative thought arises in the mind, as soon as it arises, instead of you being with it, immediately bring all these practices to the mind. If I can change the situation, I should make effort to change the situation and make it better. So there is no reason to be upset. If the situation cannot be changed, there is no benefit to be upset. It only brings suffering. It is useless. This is called meditative state - the way how to contemplate and practice the Dharma.

This is the Dharma teaching that Buddha taught. When we practice this way, we are taking the refuge in the Dharma. So just meditate on this. This is called the meditation training.

The third training is prajna. Be able to know right or wrong. This is right things to follow and practice while those are wrong things to avoid. Seeing that nature and having clear insight in the mind is called prajna or discriminating wisdom, critical insight. When you have a special insight and a clear mind, you have the ability of knowing and penetrating into how things exist.

If we make effort on these three training - moral ethics, meditative state and special insight, delusion has no space to abide. This shows that delusion and negative thoughts have no foundation. This is how Buddha taught the Dharma teachings. Buddha was enlightened in Bodhgaya and then at the Deer Park, he taught the Dharma teaching, the Four Noble Truths. The Four Noble Truths are the Noble Truth of suffering, the Noble Truth of the origin of suffering, the Noble Truth of the cessation of suffering and the Noble Truth of the path to the cessation of suffering. First, why is it called the Noble Truth of suffering? Noble, because we ordinary people only experience suffering, but we do not know the suffering and we do not know what suffering is. We just suffer. That suffering is only known by the noble beings who are enlightened. The enlightened beings know what suffering is and that is why it is called the Noble Truth of suffering. The truth of suffering means suffering is suffering for everybody and suffering is never joy for anybody. Even if you believe that the nature of suffering is joy, it never lasts long. Buddha taught that the original suffering, or suffering itself is not independent. It does not arise without cause or condition. It is not just randomly manifested. All different types of suffering has its origin (causes and condition). This is called the Noble Truth of the origin of suffering. Then how can we free from suffering? Generally, in the world system, it seems that we cannot get away from suffering. Like a very successful business person, he or she owns all the companies in the world and you can ask if that person is free from suffering. A leader in the country being elected to be a leader, there is nothing higher to achieve and just examine to see if that person is free from suffering or not. Being so powerful, still that person is not free from suffering. Buddha having achieved complete enlightenment realized that there is a cessation of suffering, nirvana. He taught the Noble Truth of the Cessation of Suffering and then how to achieve cessation, i.e. the Path to the Cessation of Suffering for us to follow.

These three training are the path to the cessation. First, buddha laid out the discipline which sets the boundary for us to stay in the right direction. Then to keep that discipline, we have to have meditative state. We have to know how to train the mind and how to practice the mind to develop that mental quality. Then special insight or critical insight brings into the mind to practice. It is called the thirty-seven branches of enlightenment which are organized into five paths - path of accumulation, path of application, path of insight, path of meditation and path of perfection. This thirty-seven branches of enlightenment is related to these three training. The Four Noble Truths are very vast. It is the foundation to all the teachings. On the basis of that, you develop all the mental qualities of meditation practices. Then there is the Four Foundations, or the Four Preliminaries or the four ways of turning the mind from samsara to enlightenment - impermanence nature of all phenomena, precious human life, the suffering nature of samsara, and the karma causes and result. These four are common to all the buddhist systems, whether tanavada system, mahayana system or vajrayana system. These four are important to all buddhist practitioners. Everyone accept this and there is no disagreement. On this basis, we take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. We study and practice the Dharma and do meditation. In the Tanavada system, they do meditate on selfness nature of all things. Like this bell, looks very substantial. But if you divide the bell into parts, it is all illusory nature and none of the part exists by itself. We purify that illusion in this way. Tanavada system practice mindfulness and individual liberation. They achieve arhat state. In mahayana system, there is lots of emphasis on bodhicitta (mind of enlightenment). Even though Tanavada system study and practice loving-kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity, they do not put emphasis on bodhicitta, the thought to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings. To cultivate bodhicitta, the four limitless or immeasurable thoughts are very crucial. Based on the four limitless loving-kindness and compassion to all sentient beings, everybody feels joy, peace, happiness and harmony. Mind has enough space for everybody. So instead of being jealous to successful people whom we do not like, you feel rejoice and happy for their success. Normally in the world in that situation, we do not feel happy and our mind becomes so narrow. We feel so miserable thinking, "They should not have that!" Instead learn to rejoice and that brings the real peace in our mind. Even say some prayers wishing "May their happiness lasts long! May they always be successful!" In this way, no matter where you are, you will always be happy. In the Tanavada system, they practice all that, but they do not encourage to achieve enlightenment buddhahood in order to benefit all sentient beings. This is however very much emphasized by the mahayana system. They practice bodhicitta to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings. They continue to reborn as bodhisattvas life after life to benefit all sentient beings until the end of samsara. They practice bodhicitta to attain enlightenment, buddhahood for all sentient beings, not just for themselves. I am just one single person. It does not matter so much whether I suffer. If I am happy just by myself, it does not matter so much because it is only one single person. However, all sentient beings are important. It is countless. That is why the democratic system is established. The leader is elected by the majority and ruled by the majority. The leader has to make all the people happy all the time. If you put bodhicitta into practice, saying, "I desire to carry out such and such program to help all the people in the country or all over the world." If you can practice bodhicitta in this way which is wonderful. This is the mahayana system. Based on that, the vajrayana or the tantra system emphasis on non self-cherishing thought. The Four Foundations are so important for the vajrayana too. Without that, you cannot practice the Dharma well. Your mind cannot fall into the Dharma. Once again, they are the precious human life, the impermanence nature of all phenomena, the suffering nature of samsara and the inexorable nature of the causes and result. Inexorable means unyielding, uncompromising nature which cannot be ignored. The four limitless thoughts - loving-kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity are also very important. Based on all these foundations, the vajrayana system perform deity or tantra practice. You visualize yourself as en enlightened deity like Chenrezig or Tara and everybody is manifested in the form of deity. You meditate in that state and at the end everything is dissolved into emptiness. It is called arising and completion stage. That is what Buddha taught. We arise into the deity, enlightened state in order to purify our ordinary body. We purify our attachment to this body, our anger, hatred and so on and we see all beings as enlightened beings. With that vision in our mind, we purify attachment, hatred, ignorance and delusion of oneself and others. Then there comes a danger that when one is in that state, one gets arrogance. We may attach to that. In order to purify that, we dissolve everything into emptiness like space. The whole universe is manifested from the space and dissolved into the space. So this is the outline of Buddha’s teachings and what we are taking refuge in in order to purify all our suffering and delusion.

Milarepa, as mentioned before, was a great Dharma practitioner around the 11th century. His lifestory was most inspiring. He practiced the Dharma so sincerely that he attained enlightenment, buddhahood within one lifetime. Here is a story about how much Milarepa received benefit from the study and practice of the Dharma. He was born around the 11th century in Tibet. In the village Kyanga Tsa where he belonged to, his father was very successful. Because of that, his family was one of the richest. Unfortunately, his father died when he was very young, about seven years old. His sister was even younger. Milarepa’s paternal uncle and aunt had moved to that areas from other places because Milarepa’s father was so successful. At the time when his father was going to die, he called in this uncle and aunt saying, "I am going to die. My son and daughter are so young. Please take good care of them until they grow up. I have much wealth and processions like houses and animals. So please take charge of them and make wise decisions." The uncle and aunt pledged to do their best to help the family until Milarepa grew up. When the father died, the uncle and aunt suggested to the mother that they should keep the wealth because her children were so young and she had no power. They promised to give the wealth back to the family later. The family did not have much choice so they went along with that because the father asked them to keep and so they did. Before long, the uncle and aunt treated Milarepa and his sister like slaves. They went through that without much choice. They lived in such a poor condition. Their heads are full of laces and they wore worn clothes and had hardly anything to eat. People in the village had much sympathy towards them. Before they used to be respected so much and now everybody looked down on them. Milarepa’s mother was a very strong person. Eight years later, when Milarepa was fifteen, she thought that his son should get the house and the wealth back. So she organized a feast inviting the head of the village including the uncle and aunt. She fed them well and during the feast she said, "Eight years ago when Milarepa’s father past away, he left the advice that the uncle and aunt should take care of the wealth until Milarepa grew up and they have promised to give it back to us. Now, Milarepa can do things by himself so I ask today, uncle and aunt, please give back all the wealth that my husband asked you to keep. All the witnesses are now here. Please support me to do these things." As soon as she said that, the uncle and aunt were so furious saying, "What kind of wealth you are talking about? We fed all of you for all these years. We gave you food, clothing and lodging. We do not remember that much wealth that you have!" All the people were powerless and they could not do or say much. They had great sympathy to the family. The uncle and aunt went on charging her, "You do not have gratitude how much we helped your family. You are shameless. If you have power, you just do anything you want. If you start a war, you can fight with us. If you have power to spell black magic, you can do whatever you want!" Then they left. Because of that Milarepa’s mother sent Milarepa to a teacher to learn writing, reading and all that. Milarepa started studying and reading all the classics. One time, in that area where Milarepa’s teacher was, there was a festival. So the teacher organized some drink and Milarepa had some beer. He was a little drunk. Because of that, he lost his awareness. He came singing songs. His mother heard sounds from a distance that are very similar to his son’s voice. She looked through the door and he came singing. She was very furious. She lashed him on his face when he entered into the house. She said, "I cannot believe this. How can you do this? We are so miserable. Uncle and aunt treated us like dirt. Under this situation, how can you sing like that? You must go to the center of Tibet. I heard that there are some teachers who can teach you black magic and how to spell. I will organize all the provisions, food and clothes. You must go!" They discussed for a long time. She found somebody who also went to the central Tibet. So she sold some of the land and got some gold to buy food and clothes for Milarepa. She said to Milarepa, "Now you remember that you are in a different situation than others. Other people go there just for knowledge. They read and drink. But you are not going there not only for knowledge, but also to take revenge, to get us out of this difficult situation." "Yes, mother, I will do my best," Milarepa replied. He made the journey. When he came to the teacher, he asked, "Please give me such kind of teaching because, unlike others, I come here to deal with such kind of situation. Please give me the powerful teachings to fulfill my mother’s wish to give my uncle and aunt a lesson." The teacher said, "I understand your situation. You are so poor." Then the teacher taught him the complete black magic spell. One day, one of uncle’s elder sons was going to marry. They organized the marriage ceremony in a big house and invited all the best friends and family members. As soon as they went into house and started the ceremony, Milarepa performed the black magic. Suddenly, like earthquake, the ground shook violently and the whole house was broken into many pieces. What happened was that during that time, both the uncle and aunt were busy doing something outside the house. So, unlike all other thirty-five people who caught inside the house and died, they were not injured at all. When Miarepa’s mother heard that they were all dead in the house, she went to the roof and proclaimed, "I got such a great son who could do all these. I am the happiest person in the world. I could take revenge." Having heard these words, the uncle was very upset and proclaimed in front of all the local people, "I am ready to kill her and her son! You are one of the most wicked people who always gave us a hard time and now all my thirty-five people died because of you." The local people advised him, "If you kill Milarepa’s mother, her son will destroy the whole village. Do you dare to do that?" The uncle hesitated. Anyhow, there were lots of rumors about killing Milarepa’s mother and son. Milarepa’s mother sent a message to his son, "Now, they are ready to kill us. I heard that there is another magic that uses hell storm and it is capable of destroying the whole village. You better learn that; otherwise, you are going to be killed." Milarepa received the message and once again asked his teacher for instructions of how to bring forth a hell storm. The teacher said, "I do not have those instructions, but I will send you to another teacher who had them." So Milarepa went there. He gave all the offerings and asked for the instructions. He then meditated for seven days and achieved all the abilities to perform the spell.

He went closer to the village during the fall just a few days before harvest. Everybody was preparing for harvest. It was the best crop-growing season ever. Everybody expected a record harvest. Milarepa and one of his friends went to a cave that was located very close to the village. Together, they made a hell storm. All the crops were washed away completely. Milarepa became so famous. All the villagers were very furious and were ready to kill Milarepa. Milarepa could not see her mother because it was big risk that he would be killed. So he left the village and went back to the teacher. Now he remembered vividly all the negative karma he created. He had such a great remorse. He was thinking that if he had to die with all the negative karma, he would directly be reborn in the hell realm. There was no other alternative. He was very desperate. He could not sleep nor eat. His mind was burning desperately to find a solution. At that time, his teacher had a good friend who was rich and he greatly supported his teacher. One day, the friend was sick and Milarepa’s teacher went to the family and did some special prayers. Within a few days, the friend died. The teacher was very sad. He said to Milarepa, "My sponsor died. Everything is impermanence. During my life, I did spell and I taught you and you did all that. Life is so impermanence!" He felt so depressed. Milarepa said, "I heard that there are some special meditation practices and teachings that can help those who are dead. Do you have those teachings?" The teacher said, "I know some rituals, but I do not have the ability to do the complete way." Milarepa said, "Either I study and practice the Dharma or you go and study the Dharma and I take care of the temple." The teacher said, "You are younger, maybe you go and study and practice the Dharma teachings and I will support you. In that way, you can help me and yourself." Milarepa was so pleased and immediately, he accepted the offer. The teacher told him that in such and such place there is such a great teacher and that teacher had such powerful teachings. He advised Milarepa to study and practice with that teacher. So he gave Milarepa enough food and clothes and Milarepa went.

As soon as Milarepa met the teacher, he said, "I come from western Tibet. I am a very simple person. I have created lots of negative karma and I am coming to ask for the instructions to free from all those negative karma and delusion." The teacher said, "I have such a profound teaching called Dzogchen. If you receive the teaching during the day and study during the day, you will achieve enlightenment during the day. If you receive this teaching in the evening, you will achieve enlightenment at night. Those who are fortunate enough, they will achieve enlightenment even without practice." Milarepa thought that he was so fortunate meeting this great teacher and received those teachings. He received all the teachings and he thought that he might not need meditation, so he slept. After a week, the teacher came and asked him what his experience was and Milarepa said, "Nothing." Then the teacher suggested that he should practice it. Milarepa practiced seven days in the retreat and the teacher came and asked him again. Milarepa had no experience. Then the teacher said to Milarepa, "It looks like I cannot help you. There is a great teacher called Marpa, a great translator, who went to India three times and met his great teacher Naropa and received all the great vajrayana teachings. Maybe you go and see him. Maybe he can help you." As soon as Milarepa heard the name Marpa, his whole body felt chilly and shaky. He immediately had such strong devotion and felt inexpressible joy in his mind. He felt that he must see the teacher. So the next day, he made the journey to see Marpa. Next day when Marpa was going to meet Milarepa, Marpa got such a strong and powerful dream. In his dream his teacher, Naropa, came to him and gave him a golden vajra and said, "You just clean this golden vajra and put on a banner. That light will radiate to all directions." Marpa cleaned and washed the golden vajra on put it on a banner. Lights radiated in all the ten directions. All sentient beings’ darkness was dispelled by those lights. Marpa looked around. He saw many Buddhas and bodhisattvas making prostrations to this golden vajra and they respected Marpa. Marpa got such confidence because even Buddhas and bodhisattvas paid their respect to him. With this state of mind, he woke up in the morning. He thought someone very special was coming. He went out to the field, brought the ox and all the necessary equipment, including a jar of beer and starting ploughing. He took a break after ploughing half of the field. While Marpa was resting, Milarepa came. Milarepa asked Marpa, "I heard that in this valley, there is a great translator called Marpa. Do you know him?" Marpa said, "I do not know such a great translator called Marpa, but there is a man called Marpa down there. I will help you to meet him. Meanwhile, you just drink this beer and plough the rest of the field. I will send someone to meet him." Milarepa, after travelling for so many days, the beer was very sweetening and helpful. He drank all and was very grateful to the man. He ploughed all the rest of the field. Then a child came and said, "You are asked to see Marpa." Milarepa followed him.

He saw Marpa, the man he saw before, sitting in front of him. Just seeing Marpa made Milarepa feel fearful, chilly but joyful at the same time. Marpa said, "It’s me. I am Marpa right here. Milarepa did three prostrations and said, "I came from western Tibet. I am a very simple person and I have created such negative karma. I come here to purify all the negative karma. I offer my body, speech and mind. Please give me the Dharma teachings to achieve enlightenment, food and clothes." Marpa said, "If you created negative karma, it is your responsibility to do the purification. It has nothing to do with me. Whether you achieve enlightenment within one lifetime or not depends on you. If you want Dharma teachings, you must get food and clothes from outside. Or if you want me to give you food and clothes, you must get Dharma from outside. You make a choice." Milarepa said, "In this case, I will ask you to give me all the Dharma teachings. I will search for food and clothes from outside." After a few days, Marpa gave him some basic instructions on Dharma. Marpa then told some life stories about himself and his teacher, Naropa, who went through great hardship under Tilopa. Naropa underwent twelve great hardships. Marpa said, "If you want to practice the Dharma, you have to purify those negative karma." So he gave Milarepa instructions to build the houses in the east, west and north. Each time when Milarepa had finished building the house, Marpa asked him to put all the rocks back to where they belonged. Milarepa was desperate to receive the teaching instructions. So he bagged Marpa, "Please give me the instructions." Every time Marpa told him, "If you build this house and finish it, I will give you Dharma teachings." After three constructions of houses, Marpa asked Milarepa to build a house right in the middle. Marpa said, "This is the last house that you have to build. The house should have nine floors. You should not ask anybody for help. You have to do this by yourself." Milarepa started carrying rocks on his back and his body was badly wounded. At one point, Milarpa felt that he could not stand it any more and he left. He thought that he could never receive the Dharma teaching from Marpa. Somehow, he came back. He did this three times. At the end Milarepa was suicidal and thought, "It looks like in my life, I cannot get this precious Dharma teachings. What should I do? Maybe. I should die and get a better rebirth to receive Dharma teachings. But on the other hand, if I do not get Dharam teachings, maybe I will go to the hell realm because of all the negative karma I have created." Milarepa was so desperate and suicidal. At the end, Marpa accepted to give Dharma teachings to Milarepa. Milarepa said, "I do this for the Dharma, not for my own benefit. If I do this for my own benefit, I could have done it peacefully and nicely." Milarepa was so desperate to receive the Dharma teachings.

Finally, Milarepa finished the construction. Marpa gave him the first teaching and empowerment on Chakrasamvara. He taught Milarepa to build the mandala on the ground and explained to him all the deities what they signified. After that, Marpa showed him Chakrasamvara from the sky and said, "This is the real Chakrasamvara!" At that time, Milarepa was so happy. He thought that it was a dream. He said, "If this is a dream, may I not wake up from this!" He felt such kind of joy and happiness. After receiving all the empowerment and meditation instructions, Milarepa went to the mountains and meditated for eleven months on one seat. After eleven months, Marpa came to Milarepa and said, "You did such a wonderful meditation retreat for eleven months sitting on the same seat. It is wonderful. Now please come out and tell me all your experiences." Milarepa came out and explained all his experiences. Milarepa said, " I realized how the precious human life is difficult to obtain. Even if one obtain this precious human life, it is impermanence, of transitory nature, so fragile. Within impermanence, suffering in the samsara is so powerful. Everyone is suffering in the samsara, one way or another and that suffering came from negative karma through delusion and negative thoughts. For that reason, I understand that we need to take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Because without taking refuge in these three jewels, there is no other way to free from all the suffering. I understand that after taking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, I need such a great teacher to receive all the teaching instructions. After receiving the instructions, I understand that I need such a powerful diligence to experience all the teachings." Marpa was very pleased and happy and expressed that he had great hope that Milarepa would fulfill his wishes.

Milarepa went home. At that time, his mother died. His sister wandered endlessly. When his mother died, all that was left was a piece of bone. That reminded Milarepa of impermanence and suffering of samsara. He meditated a whole week on impermanence and helped his mother to free from samsara. He sang a sad song, "When my father was there, I am not here. When I am here, my father was not here. When my mother was here, here son was not here and when here son is here, the mother passed away. When the house was here, the owner was not here and when the owner is here, the house is broken. Even when the house, owner, mother and father all are here, there is not much benefit. I must study and practice the Dharma." This reminded him strongly of the Dharma teachings and reinforced it strongly. So he went to retreat by himself day and night, year after year. Because of that, he purified all his negative karma and achieved such a great realization of enlightenment. People started coming to him to receive teachings from him. One of his great disciples came to him to receive teachings and said, "You must be a reincarnation of a great Buddha or bodhisattva. It is because in the beginning of your life, you created such negative karma and now you went through such a great hardship and meditation practice and attain buddhahood. It is impossible for an ordinary person to do all that. You must have done something very special. You must be some great teacher in your previous lives." Milarepa said, "It is wonderful that you see me as a Buddha or bodhisattva. As I have created such negative karma, I saw directly the result of that karma. So my mind was completely into the Dharma. There is no second thought because I know that if I die with that kind of negative karma, the suffering is just there, so clear. By seeing that nature, I practice the Dharma so sincerely. If this kind of mind is born to every sentient being, everybody can do as I did!" This is a brief history of Milarepa. It shows how Dharma can help us to free from all delusion and negative karma and to achieve complete confidence.

The following story illustrates how Dharma can dispel darkness in our mind. At the time of Buddha, there was a man who was born in a Bramin family. At that time in India, it was not enough just to be born in a Bramin family to be considered as a Bramin, one had to learn to recite mantra. The man was not gifted. When he learned the first part of the mantra, he forgot the second part and when he learned the second part, he forgot the first part. He tried hard for some time. The family lost confidence in him and asked him to resign from the family. He left the family. He spent his time wandering on the streets feeling very sad. He had no place to go. Nobody could help him. One day, Buddha past by on the road asked him, "What happen to you?" He explained to Buddha how his family kicked him out because he was so stupid. Buddha said, "Would you like to follow me?" The man was delighted to accept the offer. Buddha took him to the temple and said to him, "You just clean the temple every day." Buddha brought him lunch every day. So he cleaned the temple. After a few months, his mind was clearer and fresher. Buddha asked him to keep chanting "clean the dirt, clean the dust" while he cleaned the temple." He could remember that easily and he kept saying it like a mantra "Clean the dirt, clean the dust". He did that for a few months. One day, when he was holding his broom in his hand, he said, "The dirt does not lie outside the mind, rather, it lies dirt inside the mind. The dust does not come from the outside, rather it comes from the mental afflictive emotions. If I cleaned the dust and dirt of the mind, everything will be cleaned." After some years of diligent practice, he achieved arhat state. This shows how Buddha was skilful in helping sentient beings and how Dharma can help sentient beings to dispel darkness in the mind. When the delusion is purified, light just shines out.

There are twelve interdependence or links according to the Dharma. There are twelve unenlightened or samsaric side and the twelve enlightened side of interdependent links. They are

1. Ignorance

2. Mental formation

3. Consciousness

4. Name and form

5. Increasing fields

6. Contact

7. Feeling

8. Attachment

9. Craving

10. Existence

11. Birth

12. Aging and death

We start with aging and death. In general, people do not like aging and death. When we die, our bodies are buried or cremated. However, death is not independent, it depends on aging. It is aging that leads to the death. If we do not like aging and death, we should not be born because birth is the beginning of aging and death. Birth is not independent, it depends on the existence and the karma cause. It is the karma that we created causes us to be born. So birth depends on the existence of the karma cause. Creating karma cause itself is not independent, it depends on craving. For example, when we like to go to a place, we like so much that we have strong craving wanting to get there. Craving depends on our attachment to that place. If you are not attached to that place in the first place, there would not be craving. But attachment depends on contact. If you do not have any contact to the place, to the people or the environment, there would not be attachment. So attachment depends on our feeling of joy and pleasant. Such feeling depends on our contact to objects. But contact is not independent. It depends on increasing fields like eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind consciousness. Without sense-consciousness (six increasing fields), we cannot have any contact to objects. When these increasing fields contact objects, it increases all our negative thoughts. These increasing fields arise when we are conceived in the mother’s womb. These increasing fields arise from the existence of names and forms. Without names and forms, there are no objects for the increasing fields to contact. The conception of name and form come from consciousness. Without consciousness, nothing can be conceived. That consciousness carries a karma called mental formation. That karma is created by us through ignorance. If there is no ignorance, we would not create mental formation. So ignorance is the origin of all these. We wondered in the samsara through the interdependent links. We are born and die and again reborn through all the links. This is called the samsaric or unenlightened interdependent link. Through that, we wander in samsara as a wheel with no beginning and no end. When we uproot ignorance, the basic delusion, there is no basis to create karma and there is no consciousness which carries that and so on. It unlinks the rest of the process. This is called the enlightened interdependent link. To totally uproot ignorance, we need to study and practice the Dharma.

When we study and practice the Dharma, it does not help to struggle with aging and death. It does not help to fight with what we dislike. We have to understand where the origin is. Contemplate on that. There are different types of ignorance. Ignorance relating to knowing the inexorable causes and effect, of knowing the nature of all pervading emptiness, of knowing the discriminating nature of all phenomena and so on. Through ignorance, we create karma that come from mental factor. Mental factor means mental thoughts, different ways of thinking. All the mental thoughts are called mental factor that creates karma through delusion. Within that, there is positive mental thoughts which create positive karma and negative thoughts which create negative karma. So different karma is imprinted on our consciousness. In this way, consciousness follows according to the karma. Just look at our mind, when we see something, our mind just goes to that direction. The mind of itself has no idea, but there is a force that drives us around. So karma drives all our thinking. So when we die, our mind follows according to our what karma we have made in our lives. Karma is like a bird’s shadow. When the bird is flying in the sky, it cannot see its shadow. But as soon as the bird lands on the ground, the shadow is there. Even though we do not see the karma, it follows with us. Consciousness follows the karma and eventually brings forth birth. Birth brings aging, sickness and death. So what we have to do in our meditation practice is to purify our ignorance, delusion and negative karma. It is not enough to fight with or dislike sickness and aging and the negative karma that we have. Therefore, we have to study and practice the Dharma sincerely to purify our negative karma and delusion.

The twelve interdependent links in the Dharma can be grouped into three categories.

1. Mind - ignorance, attachment and craving

2. Karma cause - mental formation and existence

3. Result - consciousness, name and form, six increasing fields, contact, feeling, birth, aging and death

It is not only mind that creates karma. For example, when we get sick, there come lots of mental emotions and negative thoughts. That creates the cause that drives us to carry out the actions and that brings the result. It goes around like that endlessly. These three become the wheel with no beginning and no end. If there exists only mind and result and no cause, then whatever you think will bring the result, but it does not happen that way. Sometimes, we think in such a good and positive way and we yield negative result. It is due to the karma cause. On the other hand, if result is absent, only mind and karma cause, there is nothing to experience in life. Lastly, if mind is absent, how can any result comes about. So all the three are interconnected. Therefore, when we practice the Dharma and face some undesirable conditions, we should see it as opportunity to purify that karma and not creating any more negative karma. That is the reason why we are practicing Dharma. Just knowing that is easy, but when it comes to real practice, it is not so easy. You may think that if we do not fight back when somebody hurts you, the other may think that you are so weak. At that moment, in your mind, you develop such kind of confidence. Knowing that this is a great opportunity for me to purify my negative karma, so instead of responding back, I have a feeling of gratitude of having such an opportunity. At that very moment, the negative karma we created in the past is purified. We do not have any more negative karma to experience. If, just the opposite that, when somebody hit you and immediately I get so upset and hit back, then while I am experiencing negative karma, I make another new one to be experienced in the future. This is just an example showing how mind, cause and result go around endlessly in the samsara. We suffer this way endlessly.

To study and practice the Dharma, it is very important to develop bodhicitta, loving-kindness and compassion. Loving-kindness and compassion both to ourselves and to others. That brings clarity to the mind. When our mind has peace and not disturbed, we are purifying our negative karma. It is not easy. Sometimes, it seems not so logical. We have to really convince ourselves and understand why it is important to practice the Dharma. Otherwise, people think that you are so weak because you cannot respond to others and people take advantage of you. But in your mind, you know that you are practicing the Dharma and you have confidence that it is not a sign of weakness, but rather a great strength in the mind. It is through this kind of reasoning and contemplation that brings out our mindfulness and awareness. Through that, we can keep our mental peace, calmness in our mind and not creating more negative karma.

Most people, even for some Dharma practitioners, do not have any idea that buddha nature, the seed of enlightenment, pervades within all of us. How can we know that we have the seed of enlightenment, not only human beings, but every sentient being including insect? We know that from our own understanding and experience that nobody like suffering. Not any sentient being like suffering. Everybody, including insects like peace and happiness. So from that point of view, we understand that buddha nature is peace and calmness. So peace that you have inside you does not feel comfortable with the suffering. The absolute peace, the buddha nature is very close to the temporary peace. That is why you can say that all sentient beings have the seed of enlightenment to achieve the absolute peace and happiness. Basically, no matter how much suffering we experience, we will never get used to it while peace and joy, no matter how much we experience, we do not feel sad about it. It applies to anybody independent of cultural background or belief system. Even for those who do not have any religion, as soon as there is peace in their mind, we would like to stay with them. That shows that all sentient being has buddha nature, the seed of enlightenment.

Since everybody has Buddha nature, the seed of enlightenment, it means that buddhahood is attainable. So we feel confident, joy and encouraged. Otherwise, there is no hope and we are discouraged and overwhelmed by the suffering in samsara - oh, I am such an ignorant person. I have so many negative thoughts. I am so limited in so many ways, how can I attend enlightenment? It is important that we feel good, joy and confidence about ourselves when studying and practicing the Dharma. Some day, I will attend enlightenment not just for myself, but for all sentient being. May they attend enlightenment. So in this way, we will never look down on other sentient being, but rather respect every sentient being equally.

When negative obscurations come, we have to remind ourselves of impermanence. They are just temporary delusion, not permanently rooted, just like clouds in the sky, do not exist substantially or permanently. Their nature is transitory and that is why they can be purified. In this way, we purify our delusion through wisdom. Because of our buddha nature, we have all the potential of developing all excellent qualities. We are so encouraged to study the Dharma, to develop bodhicitta, the great kindness and compassion and wisdom in order bring out our potential. The following six paramitas are the six perfections that help us to go beyond samsara to reach the shore of enlightenment.

1. Generosity

Generosity is a special practice to open our mind and to build the strength in the mind. Generosity practice includes giving wealth, sharing your wisdom and skills, giving advice etc. When the mind is opened, it destroys all the boundaries that we created through delusion. This is generosity. Especially when you share some special teachings and instructions to free people from suffering, you are giving them opportunities and skills. There are so many ways of showing generosity, even saying nice words when someone feels sad, or just simply smile can make others feel so good. Sometimes when you are driving and someone rushes to get in front of you, just give that person a chance and that person would feel so thankful. Or simply cook a nice meal or even just boil a cup of tea is also generosity because you are giving up your energy.

2. Moral ethics

a) Avoiding all nonvirtuous actions, both physically and mentally, in order to keep the body, speech and mind in good discipline and be a better, more workable person. When you keep discipline well, people will respect you. Great bodhisattvas keep their discipline so pure and that is why they can benefit so many people.

b) Keep studying and practicing to develop all the good qualities by reading books, studying and practicing the Dharma in order to increase all the good qualities, skills, wisdom and compassion.

c) Benefiting sentient beings as much as we can.

3. Patience

The definition of patience is fearlessness. When you do not have fear, you have patience. When you have fear, you do not have patience. When we cannot accept the situation, that means that we are fear of something. Patience can be misunderstood. Sometimes we say "Please be patient!" it does not mean just sit there do nothing and wasting time. That is not real patience. Patience means that when mind has such a strength to endure the practice. For example, when someone uses harsh words and you have such a mental power to accept that. With loving kindness, compassion and wisdom, you have no fear. This is the practice of patience.

There is a story about a young man who was sat at the street corner the whole day. An old man passed by and asked the young man what he was doing. The young man said, "I am practicing patience." The old man said, "If you are practicing patience, you are a stupid fool!" The young man was so upset. It revealed that the young man had no patience. The old man was just testing to see if the young man has patience or not, so the young man had no patience and could not tolerate that. If he was really practicing patience, he would be so thankful for such an opportunity to practice patience. So patience does not necessarily applies only to very great thing, it can also apply to small things. Lots of things can happen in our lives and we need mental strength to relate to that. When we practice that way, our mind would be calm and peaceful. Moreover, it helps to purify lots of negative karma and obscurations in our mind. Patience is very difficult to practice sometimes. For example, when you are driving and you have to drive to a certain place on time and it’s getting late. Then when red traffic light is coming up, you have to driver even faster to pass that traffic light. Then you realized that the car in front of you drive very slowly, you get so upset, isn’t it? There are so many situations like that, at home, at the workplace, on the road and so on. So we have lots of opportunities to practice patience. So these are the Dharma practices we do in our daily life. If you learn and practice patience, you get such great benefit. Life will be much better, more peaceful. There are different types of meditation. Sometimes, when you sit down and meditate for five or ten minutes and your mind is not settling down, you thought that it is better to go out for a walk or to see something more attractive, at that time, you need to apply patience.

Sometimes when you set your mind to achieve certain goal and somebody comes and disturb that, you get so upset and angry. At that time, do not attach to the angry feeling, instead you do what is necessary to solve the problem. If you can achieve it, there is no need to be upset. If you cannot achieve it, it is no use to be angry either. See that nature, you should not have fear whether you achieve the goal or not. In this way, mind stays calm and peaceful. This is the practice of patience and fearlessness. For example, a friend called you and said, "Tonight, we will have a plan to go for a walk in the forest and have a nice dinner. I invite you to go to the forest around six." At about six o’clock, that person called and said that he could not go. You are so attached to the plan that you felt very frustrated. You did not eat much lunch just because you planed to eat a big, delicious dinner and now when that person changed the plan, you felt upset. You were impatience because you are so attached to the plan and are afraid to lose the control of your time and other arrangements in connection to that. You become desperate and upset. There come lots of emotions and suffering. On the other hand, if you are not attached to the plan, it is easier for you to find other alternatives. Then you can go on to do something else. If you are aware that everything is impermanent, then whether or not plan comes true or not, your mind is open and you would not attach to that. You can accept what that comes easily. This is just an example on how to practice patience. Of course, it is easier for you to accept the situation when that person explains the reason why he has to change the plan. "The situation is like this and I understand that it may cause you lots of trouble because you have planned all these. But I am terribly sorry that it happened to me so suddenly. Please accept my apology and I really feel bad about this. I really have to make this change." Sometimes when you start practicing the Dharma, you find the profundity in Buddha’s wisdom, compassion and the strength of the great bodhisattvas, while other times, you feel overwhelmed and get impatience. At that time, remind yourself that you have buddha nature and you can achieve that. It is just a matter of time. So build the strength and free yourself from the fear and practice patiently.

4. Perseverance

Perseverance is very important because without perseverance, nothing can be achieved. If we are lazy and expect something will happen, it will never happen. We have to practice perseverance. It is not just doing it for a short time, rather we have to practice all the time. We say the prayer "Until I attain enlightenment, I perform virtuous deeds with body, speech and mind. Until death, I perform virtuous deeds with body, speech and mind. Until this time tomorrow, I perform virtuous deeds with body, speech and mind." We are so fortunate to have this life to be able to practice. This life is impermanent and I may die anytime. So whatever time I have for the rest of my life, I will continue to abstain from all the non-virtuous actions and thoughts and perform all the virtuous actions and thoughts. Meditate on that every moment. We cannot say, " I will practice Dharma when I retire. Now, I do not have time to practice." By the time you retire, you do not have much energy left and you have poor eyesight and cannot sit long because of pain and other physical problem. So whenever you are interested, that is the right time to practice the Dharma. We keep practicing the Dharma every day repeatedly. This is called perseverance. If we just sit and wait, we will miss the opportunity. So every moment is the precious time to practice the Dharma. Practice joyfully. Such joyfully effort putting into the study and practice of Dharma is the definition of perseverance. There are two aspects of perseverance. One is to purify all the non-virtuous actions and thought and put energy and effort in that direction. Another is to develop all the good qualities like loving-kindness, compassion and bodhicitta and so forth. In this way, the negative side will be purified and the positive side will increase.

5. Meditative concentration

It means to organize the mind to bring the mind together. When the mind is scattered in all directions, it has no power. Like the river that runs to all directions. None of them has much strength. When the water is organized in a narrow channel, water has great strength and power to perform tasks. Likewise, when our mind goes back and forth to all directions, even if we meditate, it does not bring much power. So we need to bring the mind to the right place one-pointedly. If we can stay with that, it has great power to destroy all our negative thoughts and delusion. It has great power to increase our good qualities.

6. Wisdom awareness

Wisdom awareness is the principal method to uproot delusion. One may have great practice on generosity, moral ethics, patience, perseverance and meditative concentration, if there is no special insight or wisdom awareness, we cannot be freed from the samsara. We will still be at the corner of samsara wandering in the samsara. However, to develop wisdom awareness without much support from these five other paramitas does not work either. The analogy is that we need eyes to see the road. We need feet to walk. If you only have eyes and no feet, you cannot walk. If you do not have eyes, you cannot walk to the right place. Wisdom awareness is like eyes that can see right from wrong and the causes of samsara, the causes of enlightenment. However the actualization of wisdom can only be attained through the practice generosity, moral ethics, patience, perseverance, meditative concentration and so forth.

We take refuge in the Dharma because of all great qualities it possesses. It is so precious and has great beneficial effects. Dharma is such a great medicine that heals our sickness and all our delusion, that no ordinary medicine can help us. No matter how much ordinary medicine we take, it will not help us to free from samsara. It will not help us to solve our mental delusion. Dharma is like sunshine that dispels all the darkness. Dharma is even more brilliant because it dispels the darkness of the mind that no sunshine can dispel. By seeing that nature, Dharma is your best friend, most reliable friend, that you can trust and stay along with life after life. You can always rely on Dharma even at the time of sickness or death. Dharma is there better than before because it gives us so much comfort and peace. If you need real medicine, take Dharma as the medicine. If you want real light, take Dharma as the light. If you need a real friend, take Dharma as your best friend. When we are young, when we are old, when we get sick, when we die, at all time, Dharma is there. So if you do not give up Dharma, Dharma will not give us up. See that nature. Dharma is the best wealth. The wealth in samsara can be lost or stolen, but the wealth of the Dharma only increases. It only gets better. If it is not stolen by the thief of our forgetfulness and mindlessness, Dharma will never be stolen by others. So it is of such great wealth. Seeing that great qualities and be inspired to study and practice Dharma. Dharma is a great bridge that no order ordinary bridge can help us to cross the big river of samsara. Therefore, we take refuge in the Dharma.

Some practical suggestions: study the ten non-virtues and to avoid performing them. Study the ten virtuous actions and perform them. This helps us so much to make the right decision and knowing what we should do and what we should not do. It includes physical, verbal and mental actions and thoughts. On top of that, doing meditation practice. It will help to stabilize the mind. We can do chanting meditation practice such as OM AH HUNG visualize yourself as Chenrezig or Tara on a daily basis. Reading life stories of great bodhisattvas like Milarepa, Marpa and so follow their examples. When you read those books, do not just read them through quickly. Read a couple paragraphs and then contemplate on that. If you read a few pages and contemplate on it every day, the meaning will bring into your mind and it will stay in your mind for some time. If you just read page after page quickly through, it may not stay in your mind so much. This is how to develop wisdom.


May all sentient beings gain the flavor of supreme victory and ride on omniscience; never turning back;
May all sentient beings gain the flavor of entry into the truth of the nondifference of all Buddhas,
and be able to distinguish all faculties;
May all sentient beings attain increase of the savor of the teaching
and always be able to fulfill the Buddhhas' teaching of nonobstruction.

Last updated on 2002-10-23.