Welcome to Mangala Shri Bhuti’s Dharma Blog

Welcome to Mangala Shri Bhuti’s Dharma Blog, where we explore the dharma, which we have been fortunate to come into contact with. In a word, what is “dharma”? We can say it is the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni. We can also say dharma represents certain truths or “the facts of life”. But most essentially, we’ve found that dharma comes to mean an awakening of our own active intelligence about the causes of suffering and happiness. This process is ignited by the teachings we hear and catalyzed further by our contemplation and practice. Join us in appreciating and deepening our understanding of dharma through these excerpts by Mangala Shri Bhuti’s teachers and senior students.

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I would like to speak about longing because, as I travel, I can see that people all over the world have a deep longing for the Dharma and for a spiritual path.

Age doesn’t matter here. There are older people with incredible longing, as well as young people with great longing. There are rich people with this longing and poor people; people with nothing, and people who have accomplished a great deal. They all have this longing.

When we begin the path of Dharma I think we all have this longing, and a desire to remain strongly connected to our study and practice. But as time passes and we become more involved with the Dharma, perhaps we lose a little bit of this longing and this motivation.

In Tibetan the word for longing, depa, can also be translated as "inspiration and respect." I’m sure everyone reading this has a lot of inspiration and respect for the Dharma. If we didn't feel this deeply we wouldn’t be involved with the Dharma in the first place. But on the surface we may get caught up a little in our day-to-day life, with doing day-to-day things. 

We may be doing the practice as something mandatory, without much heart. We may even feel a sense of burden from it that arises in our mind. If that is the case, then practice will not have a great effect. It won’t be able to transform or change your mind or emotions very much. We have to keep a freshness to our longing, as well as a sense of inspiration and respect for the Dharma—returning to that again and again.

We need to keep our mind sharp, and bring a dharmic perspective into our everyday life, whatever we are doing. Otherwise, we will just find ourselves following old habits and conventional ideas about how to relate to our mind. That is what we call “samsara,” just the endless cycling of repetitive activity, ‘round and ‘round.

Our life may be demanding, causing us to think and behave in an ordinary or conventional manner in the world just like others who, for instance, have a conventional sort of office job. But still the mind could be guided by a dharmic perspective, rather than by typical hopes and fears, and negative emotions.

This can produce a tremendous benefit and sense of well-being, even in the midst of a difficult situation. Even during turmoil, one can still find the blessings of Dharma are very much present, because the blessings are not something outside of you. They are inside your mind, in the way you organize your mind. That is how you receive the blessings.   Turmoil in your life can become positive because it can become the means for you to grow deeper and stronger—becoming a person with much more depth.

Everyone will experience pain and suffering. That is just the nature of karma, which can seem quite complex. The more pain there is in your life, the more you should move towards the pain, rather than away from it. Going against it is acting from a different tradition, a “theistic” or conventional tradition.  Expecting that everything should go smoothly, that we should always be happy and things should work out well is a conventional, unexamined hope.

Our expectations of the Dharma can also become like that. But that is not the perspective of the Dharma. That is not what the Dharma means.

With the help of the Dharma, we go deeper and deeper into the reality of phenomena,  understanding the reality, embodying the reality, whatever that is. We say to ourselves we will truly have the courage to take on the suffering—not only our own, but the suffering of others as well.

Having this longing and inspiration for Dharma is a heart matter. If your heart is closed down or shut off, you won’t feel it. If your heart is closed, whether from lack of rest, or too much stress, or for whatever reason, then you have to make a change. You may have to get some rest, or try to simplify your life, or create a little more space in your life.  You have to do whatever is necessary to get back that feeling of heart, the longing of the heart, and the stability of the heart.

Many people think pain destroys the heart because the mind or the heart is not able to handle the pain. That’s not true. People can go through a great deal of pain, and even as the pain increases in their life, some people have more and more longing; greater and greater appreciation for the Dharma.

Depression might seem to have the quality of robbing your heart and making you feel hopeless. But that is only temporary. Even depression, as bad as it is, can actually deepen your longing for the Dharma and the practice.

Rather, it is the frustration you create in your mind that robs your heart. Your own conventional hopes are not fulfilled. That’s when we can get agitated and self-aggression can arise. We may just want to give up, as if giving up will take care of the frustration. Of course, it will only make things worse.

That is why it is good to keep things very simple. Have a short term plan, just one day’s plan, to simply be present during the day and present in the moment.

Strive to be happy to wake up in the morning. After all, you’ve awakened—you haven’t died overnight. Enjoy all the things that are spontaneously present in your life, like the sun and the sky, the forest, the river, the mountains. There’s so much to enjoy. And enjoy your mind. Enjoy even the painful experiences. It is better to experience some pain rather than being like a robot who cannot experience or feel anything.

We must try to continually generate this longing and the inspiration for the Dharma, and especially for one’s own essential nature, what we call “Buddha nature. Without that you will not have much heart to travel on the spiritual path. We cannot leave this to chance or circumstance. It’s not as if it is up to the gods to hand you inspiration or not, without being able to do anything yourself. It is something we can generate ourselves.

If our minds are constantly occupied with negative habits and emotions there will be no room for anything to happen. Devotion, and longing with faith and trust will not arise if your mind is not open and there is no room.

In the beginning you will have to put in a little effort to create the space, and create the longing and inspiration. At first it may be a little bit superficial, but slowly what you have created will become a genuine and true experience.

We can do this. The world is created by mind. So you must do whatever you need to do to keep the longing burning brightly.

Excerpted and Edited from Personal Link# 48 – Given 7/11/1999, Yeshe Gomde, CA

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