We try to benefit other sentient beings, but we also need to appreciate ourselves, because we have aprecious human life and the opportunity to practice the dharma. This is the result of previous good karma. So why do we practice the dharma? In order to find happiness.
We are looking for authentic happiness, not temporary happiness. So where does this come from? Does it come from the outside or inside? There is some happiness that comes from the outside, but this is not authentic happiness. Other people cannot give us happiness, not even Buddha or the lama. So where does happiness come from? it is inside us. Buddha has the 5 wisdoms and 4 kayas. We have them also and not less than the Buddha. When we give empowerments in the Vajrayana, it is an introduction to the 5 wisdoms and 4 kayas. But these are covered over with obscurations. For this reason we are not happy.
So practice is important. But we cannot eliminate them in a single day. For example, if you try to develop bodhicitta, it will not come immediately. But even one attempt will create a karmic imprint. Sitting in meditation is dharmic practice. But you can also practice anywhere. Even if we get angry, if you are a dharma practitioner, your anger will remind you that you need to practice.
We cannot walk away from afflictive emotions or change our surroundings. In order to become a bodhisattva we need challenges and difficulties. You may think you want to meditate and go to a place without distractions. But even if you are successful to practice in a quiet place, you will need to meditate where it is noisy. Without being able to do that, your practice will not be complete. Buddhas cannot remove your obstacles, but you can change yourself. First you need to investigate. If you are upset because of work and you look closer, you will see that others have not upset you. It is your own mind that has upset you. That is why I said happiness does not come from outside. If others say bad things about you, it is possible for that to be the cause of more love and compassion. It all depends on your mind. Whether you are happy or sad depends on your mind. So you need to have a bigger mind. So you need to practice, not only dharma practice, but try to be happy and relaxed.
You may say I am very unhappy. But it is possible to change that to happiness with just a moment of meditation. Tummo practice is called inner heat practice. It is not just for warmth, it also creates bliss. Normally if it is cold, we are uncomfortable. I was meditating in a cave and it can get cold. I thought this feels cold. But that feeling can be transformed into bliss. Tummo is not practiced for its own sake, but to achieve mahamudra. So try to be happy and relaxed.
So dharma practice is needed these days because it is the only thing that will help. The more afflictive emotions, the greater tantric practice can help. In degenerate times there are more aflictive emotions and the need for tantra is greater. If you get angry, follwing the anger is an afflictive emotion. But rising to the challenge of anger is a cause for happiness. If we never faced a challenge like anger and everything was always peaceful and happy, we would not progress. A lot of difficulties are the the cause of progress in practice. By facing up to them, our practice will be stable like a mountain.
All these afflictive emotions are temporary. If you look at their nature, that is wisdom. So there is no difference between afflictive emotions and wisdom. So afflictive emotions can be the source of suffering or bliss. Afflictive emotions can be like fuel added to a fire. If you take anger as real you will be unhappy. If you investigate the anger you will see it is changable and unreal. Normally we have likes and dislikes, but they are only mental concepts. We cannot stop our afflictive emotions and feeling good or bad. But even though they appear they are inseparable from emptiness. When you see this you remain unperturbed by difficulty. You have dignity. So that is the most important and helpful thing to know. Dharma is not something to believe for benefit in some distant future. It is something we can apply right now.
Q: If you feel ill what is the best way to practice?
A: Enjoy (laughrs.) It is possible for pains to become enjoyment. Not feeling good is just the body, but your thoughts about about it makes it worse. If you are mentally happy your sickness will be less. The mind is really powerful. An experienced dharma practitioner who is dying can meditate. It may be difficult to enjoy but be patient like a stone.
Q: How do you transform afflictive emotions into wisdom?
A: For example if you get angry you mind reherses the situation and you suffer. Instead of chasing thoughts like this, you can meditate on the anger or investigate its nature. If you are able to meditate, that is wisdom. If your anger is strong, you are strong. At that moment you can change it. A disciple of Phagmodrupa had a problem with anger. He had a clay pot filled with hot ashes that warmed his tea. Phagmodrupa told a young monk to go and break the pot with a rock and run away. The monk chased him and both ran to Phagmodrupa’s room. Phagmodrup told him to sit down and look at his anger. The monk did this and gained some realization.
Drupon Thinley Nyingpo
Susquehanna Yoga Center
December 13 2013