Samsara and Nirvana Part 1
When there are people who harm you and obstruct you, normally we have a bitter feeling towards them and feel happy when they have problems. if we reverse that attitude, we will relieve ourselves of a great deal of tension and anger. Instead, we should wish that they be happy and as a result we will be at peace. This is not something from Tibetan or Buddhist culture, This is universal. This is not a difficult teaching, it is something very simple that we can apply in our everyday lives. And this is the way to attain Buddhahood.
When you take refuge in Buddha, you take refuge in mind free of obscurations. When you take refuge in Dharma, you take refuge in the path to achieve that. And the Sangha are the successful practitioners of the path. The real Buddha is perfect wisdom supported by compassion. Usually we take refuge in samsara, confusion, and delusion. Usually we are the victim of confusion and suffer endlessly. You should investigate and see if this is true. If you decide it is not, you should argue back with me.
Over the past twenty years many great teachers have come to this country and taught. The have taught the basics and also high teachings like mahamudra and dzogchen. Sometimes when you receive the high teachings you feel there is nothing for you to do, until you are hit by the hammer of confusion. Then you may feel that the teachings aren’t working. So to clarify that point, I have written this text.
Buddhism emphasizes the mind. Mind is a mysterious subject. It is hidden, because it has no qualities. It cannot be accessed through a machine. We can examine the brain, but we have no idea what the mind or consciousness is. No matter how sophisticated a machine is, it cannot measure the mind, because the machine is only material. When you have a strong meditative concentration, you can see what the mind is. Mind is the central beam of our life. On it depends whether we experience suffering, happiness, or peace, all of those things. Since mind is so important, we dedicate our lives to understanding it. Whether we experience peace and happiness depends on our minds. You can plan a picnic and normally it would be pleasant. But if your mind is disturbed, even such pleasant circumstances won’t make you happy. There are both primary and contributory causes for happiness. The primary cause is mind and contributory causes are the physical situation. So we pay more attention to the mind. Buddha left the most luxurious life as a prince, because he saw that this was not the way to peace and happiness. So he disciplined his body until he saw that too was not the right path. He achieved a very high meditative state, but that was not sufficient. So he went to Bodhgaya to meditate and he achieved the fully awakened state. Then nothing was hidden from him. So from then on he taught the Dharma. The lineage of this teaching has continued over 2500 years, not by force, but out of individual respect. The body itself is not so precious, it is the source of filth and dirt. But through it we can create the cause for all peace and happiness. So we dare not waste our time. If we do, later we will regret it. The mind is infinite, and Buddha taught his the 84,000 teachings to deal with it. Sometimes you are very happy and other times very sad. To comprehend the complexity of ego’s neurosis Buddha gave his extensive teaching. Sometimes you feel great faith in one teaching. At other times not, and another teaching will help you. So the teachings are complex and it requires a precise mind to comprehend this.
The teacher shows unequaled kindness because they free us from samsara. Because everything is based on causality, we need to create the causes for enlightenment. A mother wants every success for her child, but what happens depends on the child’s actions. Similarly, the Buddha wishes happiness for all, but can only point out the path. When you do not realize the nature, it is samsara. When you do, that is nirvana. This is so, even though the nature of all phenomena is pure, without arising or ceasing. When you carefully analyze, nothing has true existence. Since phenomena are non-existent, they are free of arising, abiding, and ceasing. The Buddha was skilled and taught all the dharma so that we can realize the nature of reality. When we grasp on things as existent, we suffer. From this confusion arises graping and hatred, which are the principal causes of suffering in the world. Chandrakirti wrote the Madyamakavatara and he said all phenomena are pacified from beginningless time, free of arising, and transcend suffering. If you examine closely in quantum physics you will understand that nothing exists. So in reality there is no difference between samsara and nirvana, they are equal. When you realize the nature, that is nirvana. When you have not, that is samsara. We are like a silk worm that has wrapped itself in a cocoon. But within all sentient beings, even a small bug, is the buddha nature. Don’t worry about cultivating miraculous powers or seeing lights, what is important is seeing this nature. Mind is very powerful and can send us to hell or bring us enlightenment. Buddha nature is like a gold nugget hidden in the mud of afflictive emotions. A young child has the ability within them to learn all knowledge up to a PhD. It only requires the effort to learn it. The same is true of dharma practice.
Normally we only have a very rough understanding of karma. But every second we are within the dimensions of karma. Whether Buddha comes or doen’t come, the nature of reality and cause and effect are the same. If you act according to the ten non-virtues, it is clear you will be unhappy, whether you are Buddhist or not. Telling lies arises from a deluded mind. Confusion is the aspect of samsara and its characteristic is unceasing suffering. The seven billion human beings all suffer. Nirvana is the purification of confusion, and so it has no suffering.