How to Practice the Dharma

Since I am new here, I will tell you about me. I am from Bhutan. My name is Namkhai Nyingpo. Padmasambhava had 25 disciples. One of them also had my name. I am the reincarnation of this disciple. The sixth reincarnation moved to Bhutan. When he died, his students went to the 16th Karmapa, who recognized me as his reincarnation. My root lama is Khyentse Rinpoche. I built a monastery in Bhutan named Lhodrak Karchu, which has 250 monks.

Today we will discuss how to practice the dharma. Mind can either be pure, impure, or neutral. Dharma is how we think when we have a pure mind. I will now give you the details. The main point of dharma is to benefit all sentient beings. But our abilities are limited, since we are still in samsara. If we become enlightened, we can help sentient beings. To get enlightened, we need to practice the main essence, which is to cultivate bodhicitta. By thinking of the sufferings of all beings, we form the resolve to become enlightened for their sake so we can benefit them. Merely wishing to benefit beings is insufficient. We need to practice and have devotion to the Buddhas. There are four points to generating bodhicitta. We should not distinguish between enemy and friend. In truth, there is no such distinction. Our enemies in past life might now be our friends, or vice versa. Friends can become enemies even in this life. Or even in a single day. By thinking in this way, we develop equanimity. We need to cultivate this even to the extent that someone is harming our family, we have equanimity. By becoming experienced in this practice. we can extend equanimity to all beings.

All sentient beings wish for happiness, but they do not know the cause of happiness. They seek happiness, but their actions lead to more suffering. Wishing that other beings have happiness and its cause is compassion. It is like a mother’s attitude to her children. Compassion should be extended to all sentient beings. It should be boundless. Wishing in this way is known as loving kindness.

One should meditate like this not just for one person, but for all sentient beings. One should feel this is happening to me when you see someone suffering. From this we generate the desire that all beings be happy. A loving mind is one of the roots of enlightenment. One should think that if other beings are happy, mine is also increased. That is how we should think when reciting “may all beings have happiness”.

There is both absolute and relative bodhicitta. Relative bodhicitta is also divided in two, aspiration and actual. One is just the wish to benefit others and the other is carrying the wish out by cultivating the six perfections. The first perfection is giving, the perfection of generosity. If we have regrets when giving, one should make oneself give more than we originally planned to. One should cultivate generosity to the extent that one is willing to give away one’s body. We wander in samsara because of our attachments. Generosity trains us to give away what we are attached to.

The second perfection is morality. If one has a wish that someone comes to harm, we need to practice morality to turn this around. If we can recognize our negate thoughts and deeds one forms the wish to replace them with positive ones. We need to pray for the person we wished would come to harm.

The third perfection is patience. If someone wishes to harm us, we should think this is a result of karma from a past life and not get angry. Patience is control of our anger. Our first thought may be something negative, but we should recognize our anger and control it. One of my teachers was imprisoned by the Chinese for twenty five years. They gave him a lot of trouble. He thought that this must be a result of past karma, which took away his all his feelings of anger and dissatisfaction. Patience is more powerful than prostrations to accumulate merit. Just as the greatest demerit is anger, the greatest merit is patience.

The fourth perfection is perseverance. Perseverance means to not be lazy. Instead, we should delight in practice. Our effort should not just be for a single day, but should be continuous.

The fifth perfection is concentration. It means to focus the mind and not let it go here and there. Focussing on compassion and loving kindness are forms of concentration. We need to control the mind.

The sixth perfection is the perfection of wisdom. Knowing that happiness comes from merit and suffering from demerit is wisdom. There three kinds of wisdom are hearing the teachings, thinking about them, and meditating on them.

After the practicing the relative, we experience the absolute bodhicitta. Of the six perfections, the most powerful and important is wisdom. But to experience it, we need to practice the other five. From the moment we wake, we should generate bodhicitta. Bodhicitta can purify all negative karma. Even one prostration done with the motivation of bodhicitta is very powerful. Without bodhicitta we cannot become enlightened, whatever our wish. We have to think our life is very precious and short. So we cannot leave the practice of bodhicitta for tomorrow.