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Mandala eZineMandala eZineLAMA YESHES WISDOM6 EmptinessBy Lama Yeshe
ADVICE FROM THEVIRTUOUS FRIEND8What is Dharma?By Lama Zopa Rinpoche
COVER FEATURE10 Lama Zopa Rinpoche:A Light For All
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COVER: Lama Zopa Rinpoche with alucky koala. Photo by Wendy Finster,Adelaide, 1983.
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TEACHINGS FROM THE MEDICINE BUDDHA RETREATLand of Medicine Buddha, OctoberNovember 2001
by lama zopa rinpocheedited by ailsa cameron458 pages, $20
Because bodhisattvas have unbelievable merit, they can understand the limitless skies of benet and qualities that Medicine Buddha has. e fortunate one who has good karma and much merit and the one who has miraculous psychic powers is able to believe in this, and they should cherish this Medicine Buddha practice.
FREEDOM THROUGHUNDERSTANDINGThe Buddhist Pathto Happiness and Liberation
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LAMA YESHES WISDOM
If your daily life is tremen-dously involved in emotions,you are completely driven bythem and psychologicallytired. You have to learn tosit back instead of beingimpelled by your emotions.Emotions arent necessarilynegative they can be positivetoo but in the Westernenvironment, when we relatewith each other we gettremendously emotional. Inother words, our physicalemotions get too involvedand we dont understand thefunctioning of our six senseconsciousnesses.
Buddhism has tremendous concern for theneeds of both the object and the subject, and inthis way, loving-kindness becomes an antidoteto the selfish attitude. Western religions alsoplace tremendous emphasis on love andcompassion but they do not emphasize wisdom.Understanding wisdom is the path to liberation,so you have to gain it.
When I was in Spain with His Holiness theDalai Lama, we visited a monastery and met aChristian monk who had vowed to stay in anisolated place. His Holiness asked him, Howdo you feel when you experience signs of happyor unhappy things coming to you? The monksaid, Happy is not necessarily happy; bad is notnecessarily bad; good is not necessarily good. Iwas astonished. To my small understanding,that was wisdom.
The person who has some understanding ofemptiness will have exactly the same experiences
as that monk. The personsees that bad and good arerelative; they exist for onlythe conditioned mind andare not absolute qualities.The characteristic of ego is toproject fantasy notions ontoyourself and others, and thisis the main root of problems.You then react emotionallyand hold your pleasure andyour pain as concrete.
You can observe rightnow how your self-image issimply a projection of yourego. Its a simple question:How does my mind imag-ine myself? Understanding
your conventional mind and the way it projectsyour own self-image is the key to realizingemptiness. In this way you break down the grossconcepts of ego and eradicate the self-pityingimage of yourself. By eliminating the self-pitying imagination of ego, you go beyond fear.All fear and other self-pitying emotions comefrom holding a self-pitying image of yourself.You can also see that you feel the self-pityingimage of yourself that you had yesterday still ex-ists today. That is wrong. Thinking, Im a verybad person today because I was angry yesterday;I was angry last year is also wrong, because youare still holding today an angry, self-pityingimage from the past. The ego holds a perma-nent concept of our ordinary self all the time this year, last year, the year before: Im a badperson; me, me, me, me, me, me. From theBuddhist point of view, if you hold that kind ofconcept throughout your lifetime, you will
EMPTINESS By Lama Yeshe
From Harry Suttons private collection,recently discovered.
February 2010 MANDALA EZINE 7
become a bad person because you interpretyourself as a bad person. Therefore, your egosinterpretation is unreasonable. It has nothingwhatsoever to do with reality. And because yourego holds onto such a self-existent I, attachmentbegins. From the Buddhist point of view, it isvery difficult for a person to experience non-attachment. From the Buddhist philosophicalpoint of view, attachment for something meansthat it is very difficult for us to separate from it.We have a very strong attachment, strong likeiron, for the things we think of as being verygood. We need to learn to be flexible.
Lets look at a flower. My attachment forthe flower is a symptom. It shows that I over-estimate the value of the flower. I wish tobecome one with the flower and never separatefrom it for the rest of my life. You understandhow sick I am? It is so difficult for me to let goof it. This craziness is attachment. But non-attachment is flexible; it is a middle way, areasonable way.
The psychology of attachment is over-estimation; it is an unrealistic attitude. That iswhy we are suffering; and for that reasonBuddhism emphasizes suffering, suffering,suffering. Westerners cant understand whyBuddhism talks about suffering so much. Ihave enough money. I can eat. I have enoughclothes. Why do you say Im suffering? Im notsuffering. I dont need Buddhism. This is amisunderstanding of the term suffering.Attachment itself is suffering.
Philosophically, you can research emptinessvery deeply; you can analyze the notion of theself-existent I a thousand ways. However, I amtalking about what you can do practically, everyday, right now. Dont think about Buddhistterminology; dont think about what the bookssay or anything like that. Just ask yourselfsimply, How, at this moment, do I interpretmyself? Thats all. Each time you ask yourself
that question you get a different answer. Thenyou can laugh at yourself: What Im thinking isincredible! But you shouldnt worry; just laugh.The way you question yourself should make youlaugh. In that way, you get closer to emptiness.Because you know through your own experiencethat your own projection of yourself is a fantasyand, to some extent, you experience selflessness.You no longer trust your own ego and yourconcepts become less concrete.
This type of analytical meditation shouldntmake you sad or serious. When you reallyunderstand something, you can laugh at your-self. Of course, if you are alone, you shouldntlaugh out loud too much, otherwise people willthink youre clinically sick! Milarepa is a goodexample. He stayed alone in the snowy moun-tains and laughed and sang to himself. Helaughed because his life was rich and happy.
Your entire life is built by dualistic concepts.Actually, dual means two, but in Buddhism,our complaint is not that two phenomena exist.The problem is their contradictory, competitivenature. Is the competitive mind comfortable ornot? Is the competitive life comfortable or not?Is competitive business comfortable or not?Themind is irritated. The mind in which there aretwo things always contradicting each other iswhat we call the dualistic mind. Simply put,when you get up in the morning after a goodnights sleep, do you feel peaceful? Yes, you feelpeaceful. Why? Because during sleep, thedualistic mind is at rest! As long as the dualisticmind is functioning in your life, you are alwaysirritated; you have not attained the peace ofultimate reality.y
Excerpted from Buddhism in a Nutshell: Essentials forEnlightenment, a compilation of teachings and essays by LamaYeshe, Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Ven. Amy Miller. This bookand audio program set covers all the quintessential topics foundinTibetan Buddhism. Due for release in early February throughFPMT Education Services.
8 MANDALA EZINE February 2010
ADVICE FROM THE VIRTUOUS FRIEND
WHAT IS DHARMA?The Sanskrit word Dharma refers to thatwhich guides, or saves, our minds fromsuffering. There are thousands upon thou-sands of different types of suffering, andwithin these there are many different kinds.For example, there are hundreds of differentkinds of illnesses, and therefore, there are alsomany different kinds of medicine. Similarly,within the Dharma, there are thousands ofdifferent kinds of Dharma practice, but theyare all Dharma.
The effect of external medicines and theeffect of Dharma are as different as the earthand the sky. External medicines are onlytemporary methods. They offer temporaryrelief; they dont cure disease permanently. Forexample, if you have the problem of diarrhea,medicine can temporarily cease but not endthe experiences of diarrhea. Even if thesuffering of the stomach is cured at that time,in a few months or years it can come back, andthe person can again experience suffering. Evenif you take medicine continually, it causesother problems; the medicine itself can causeother sicknesses in the body to arise. We canrealize this when our wisdom is acutelyperceptive. Sometimes even if medicine curesthe physical problem it harms the mind. Thisalso proves that medicine is by no means anultimate way of dealing with disease.
It is the same thing with drugs. If you keeptaking drugs with the belief that they willalways give the same effect, you will go crazy orthere will be danger to your life. This is well-known: because the first and second trip felt
good, people continue to believe that the drugwill give the same effect, so they use it moreand more. This makes the person moreunconscious and undisciplined in body, speechand mind. This proves that drugs are also notthe ultimate method.
With Dharma practice, there is no problem.No matter how long you practice Dharma, youalways benefit; you always profit. Your body,speech and mind become more pure and thereis never any danger to your body or your mind.Dharma practitioners dont need drugs. Drugsare for those whose minds are limited, whohave no idea of Dharma or the meaning of life,who have no understanding of past and futurelives, who believe just the limited phenomenathey see before them.
Similarly, all the normal everyday things wedo to protect ourselves from suffering, thekinds of things that animals do, are also merelytemporary methods. Eating, drinking, wearingclothes, doing our jobs none of these areultimate methods that will put an end tosuffering forever. No matter how highly wedevelop materially and technologically, noneof this will put a final end to problems.
In ancient times, long before our modern,material development, people had problems.The very first humans on earth had manyproblems mental problems, life problems,suffering and dissatisfaction. Now there iseven more confusion, fighting and suffering.Over the millennia, there is been a muchgreater increase in suffering than in peace.This again shows clearly that external,
By Lama Zopa Rinpoche
February 2010 MANDALA EZINE 9
material development is not an ultimatesolution to problems. It shows that somethingis missing.
I am not saying that science and materialdevelopment are bad; I am simply describingwhat is happening around us. Why cantmedicine, drugs and every single thing we doput an...