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The world we live in today is complicated and turbulent; many people face problems like stress, alienation and depression.
If we are to live well in this world, we need to find a way to tackle the problems that afflict it. There are many different systems, philosophies and religions that attempt to solve these problems, and they all share one basic belief: that everyone wishes to be free from suffering and everyone wishes to be happy. It seems to me that the Buddhadharma is a very effective way to attain these goals.
In general, most of our efforts in life are dedicated to the pursuit of happiness. In this endeavour, we have made tremendous progress in the fields of science and technology; due to this progress, we have been able to solve many issues and greatly benefit mankind.
But although valuable, this material progress cannot bring us true peace and happiness. If we are to find true peace and happiness, it is absolutely essential that we achieve inner spiritual progress. And in order to do so, we need to study religious teachings and put them into action in our daily lives.
The Buddha’s teachings are based principally on the fact that every living being, not only human beings, but every living being possesses Buddha nature. Buddha nature means that the true nature of our mind is pure, right from the beginning, and has been so since the beginning of time. Although it is in itself perfectly unblemished, it becomes obscured, which prevents us from seeing it in its true form. But by practicing the spiritual path, we can eliminate these obstructions and discover our mind’s true nature. Once we discover our Buddha nature, we become enlightened, free from suffering, and naturally peaceful and happy.
Although all beings have Buddha nature, we human beings have the most potential to discover ours. This is because we have the opportunity to encounter and practise the Buddhadharma. And so, human life is very precious. And when we have obtained this precious human life, and with it the possibility to become enlightened, it is crucial that we make optimal use of it. There is no greater loss than that of missing the opportunity for enlightenment that our human life brings us. So the first thing we need to do is to realize how precious human life is. Once we realize this, then we cannot remain without striving to make the best of it.
The second thing we need to do is to ponder upon impermanence and death. The Lord Buddha said that everything that is created by causes and conditions is impermanent. This applies most of all to human life. We have no possibility of knowing how long our life will last. Our only certainty is that one day we will die. In fact, death could occur at any moment. There are many causes that could cut short our life. Just as a breeze can extinguish a lamp in a single moment even though it has enough oil to burn for many more hours, in the same way our lives can suddenly be cut short by unexpected circumstances, even if we are strong and healthy. And so it is very important that we make the most of our life.
Her Eminence Mindrolling Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche is a lama in Tibetan Buddhism. Here is an excerpt from her Buddhism teaching course at Six Senses Vana in India on March 6, 2019.
What do Buddhists practice? It can be contained within these three lines:
- Abandon everything that is negative/do not do anything that is unvirtuous.
- Cultivate everything that is positive/do everything virtuous.
- Train your mind.
What do we mean by virtue? The Tibetan word is gewa. There is no greater virtue than tolerance and genuine sense of tolerance and understanding. To be virtuous requires oneself to really introspect and see how happiness is so important and how the threat to happiness becomes the basis of all unvirtuous actions.
The Buddha nature, from the Buddhist teachings perspective, is having the awareness and insight to look intrinsically... to realize that the human mind has such a wealth of qualities, of basic goodness.
The world is in constant movement... incessant movement. And, then you have to ask why? Why is movement so propelling to us? What propels this movement? The Buddhist teachings say that what propels this movement is a search of happiness. We are in constant, continuous movement because we think movement will give us happiness...
We don’t mean to be good or bad. We just are in a continuous, incessant movement, propelled by the wish to be happy.
You won’t find someone to love you unless you start loving others. You give love, you receive love. You are a good friend, you get good friends. Karma is a pivotal subject of Buddhist teachings. If you are truly searching for your own happiness, do not do anything that is unvirtuous... if you don’t want pain, don’t create pain.
Karma defines your character. It eventually becomes who you are. A peaceful person, a greedy person... a person who is always with disappointments and pain.
Every day when you go to sleep, you do reach your fundamental nature. You reach it all time. But more directly, experientially, is when you go to sleep. That moment just when you are about to fall asleep, you will notice all your senses quiet down. You stop seeing things, you stop feeling, you’re not talking... you don’t feel any smell or taste. It’s that juncture when you are just sort of falling asleep. In that moment, your mind even stops having any sense of opinions or judgements. You don’t care. There is also no sense of ‘I’ as identity...
Meditation seeks to, in that state of Alaya, turn it around, so that it can be awakened. That within that state of complete pacification, not falling into sleep, but just as in sleep, you let the experiences settle, you stop discriminating, you do not hold on to the notion of ‘I.’ You let yourself rest into that expansive state that has no boundaries, no limitation, quite like this space itself. Completely open, not unconscious, but awakened in that state.