May bodhicitta, precious and sublime, arise where it has not yet come to be. Where it has arisen may it never fail, but grow and flourish more and more.
Unbroken lineages of wisdom traditions are rare in these times, and Kongtrul Rinpoche descends from a pure lineage of the Dzogpa Chenpo Longchen Nyingtik tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.
We have two main study and practice centers in America: Phuntsok Choling in Colorado and Pema Osel in Vermont. Rinpoche teaches the core MSB programs at these two centers. In addition, MSB has several city centers or groups around the world where people gather for group meditation and study, and to listen to the LINK teachings together.
Browse to any of the calendars to find out more about the teaching schedules of Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, Dungse Jampal Norbu, or Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel. View the upcoming events at Phuntsok Choling, Pema Osel, or find out who is giving the next LINK talk.
MSB is a part of the Longchen Nyingtik and Khyen-Kong-Chok-Sum lineages. (Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, and Terton Chokgyur Lingpa, collectively known as Khyen-Kong-Chok-Sum, were the heart of the Rimé, or nonsectarian, movement, which did so much to preserve and harmonize all schools of Tibetan Buddhism in the nineteenth century.)
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The teachings on discipline are very simple, but very profound. Discipline is not cultivated out of a dualistic notion of good and bad. It has nothing to do with religion, or developing prejudice toward particular actions. Discipline is more about developing awareness and mindfulness to see how negative actions bring so much suffering into our lives.
When their well-being is threatened by fire, water, or dangerous animals, sensible, intelligent people will protect themselves by pulling back. In the same way, we should pull back from endangering ourselves with the ten negative actions of body, speech and mind, which have harmed us for so many eons, and continue to affect us in this life.
With this in mind, I would like to present a teaching from the sutras about developing the “Ten Magnificent Consciousnesses”Â that bring immense benefit in this life, and particularly benefit our mind in the time before death. These ten magnificent consciousnesses, or awarenesses, are as follows.
We must train ourselves in these ten consciousnesses, reflecting over and over on these points.
If we examine our attachments to the objects of pleasure, it seems at first glance that they have significant meaning for us, but in reality they aren’t even that pleasurable. Yet they grab the core of our heart, squeezing us, making us totally vulnerable and weak, without any clarity or strength of mind. They leave us with no sense of space, no freedom to move around, or feel free of distraction and worry. We need to reflect on this, deeply and openly, and then ask ourselves, “Am I going to live with this attachment and bring it with me to my grave, or can I do something right now to diminish it?“Â
Though the attachment may be to our spouse, children, home, or valued possessions, at some point we will have to let it go, because life forces us to let go. Before the situation arrives when we have to let go, we can let go in advance by just working on our mind.
When attachments are strong in our mind, the heart is heavy and burdened. From this point of view, attachments are actually a health concern; one cannot live long with such a heavily burdened heart. According to Buddhist medicine, attachment, aggression, and ignorance are the sources of all disease. Blood pressure problems, heart conditions, sleeping problemsâ€”all of these conditions have to do with attachments that overwhelm the heart and stir up the nervous system. Therefore, the heart has to be cleansed and lightened.
What do we mean by “detachment”Â? First we have to notice what our attachment is. Then, decreasing it is detachment. There is no detachment to be cultivated separately from tapping into our attachment first, and then decreasing it. So it is important to discover first how to tap into our attachments, and then how to decrease them, and also understand the causes of the attachments.
As you gain freedom and flexibility by noticing your attachments, you gain strength inside, along with a better perspective of how to relate to your situation or the objects of your attachment. Then detachment will naturally occur. But before this happens, it’s all just worry and stress. Everything consumes your heart, draining all its energy, its juice. Therefore, it is very important to develop non-attachment toward the things that we are so attached to.
Gradually we can become able to clearly see and accept our heart and mind, and then cleanse them. First we must find the courage to practice in this way. So we must always work on cultivating the first magnificent consciousness, developing non-attachment to all objects of pleasure, anything that grabs us strongly in the core of our heart.
Cultivating Kindness and Compassion
Secondly, we have to develop kindness and compassion toward sentient beings because, just like ourselves, they are so vulnerable. Like us, other beings are completely lost in the misery of their afflicting emotionsâ€”aggression, attachment, jealousy, arrogance, and ignorance. In this way the world is mad. Everyone is acting out crazily. If you take a step back and observe any gathering of people, you’ll notice that they are just trying to fulfill their desires and ambitions, their longings and needs, trying to soothe something aching in their hearts. Each person is in a bubble, with no recognition of the world, not noticing anything, just fixated on his or her own concerns.
We hold this idea that life continues forever, yet in reality life is so sensitive and vulnerable. Like a foam bubble in the water, it can pop at any minute. But those living in this bubble have no notion or realization of that. This is why all sentient beings, including ourselves, deserve to be objects of compassion.
There is a tremendous amount of greed, along with tremendous pain stemming from it. We have so much stress in our speedy, driven minds and lives, and so many hopes and fears. We have so many notions about success and failure, about “us”Â and “them.”Â From our own experience we can clearly see all of these as suffering. All of us are caught in this madness and suffering, so we have to develop compassion toward all. We have to tap into the suffering of ordinary sentient beings, with ourselves as an example, realizing how much we suffer, and seeing others in exactly the same light. We all live in a madhouse with so many crazy people doing so many things, and each believing in what they are doing. Everybody has some notion of truth and thinks what they are doing is something wonderful and correct, but from the point of view of someone watching from a distance, it is all just craziness.
Beyond this, beings bring so much harm to the world, and to each other. There are so many conflicts, so much fighting, so many people hurting each other with weapons, so many wars happening in the world, and so much verbal aggression. Conflict and violence circulate back and forth, back and forth, even in our everyday domestic circumstances. Television, movies, theater, are all about conflict. But you don’t have to pay money, you could just watch it in your own mind, or in your domestic situation or small community. Soap operas are happening everywhere, all the time. The drama of suffering is everywhere, all the time.
If we can develop compassion in this way, then we can affect ourselves and others by changing our perspective. This perspective is that all of this happens not from will, but from ignorance; not out of choice, but out of confusion; not intentionally, but as a result of being poisoned. Recognizing this, we must develop compassion towards sentient beings.
Compassion is the wish for all beings to become free from delusions and ignorance, free from the misery and suffering of being caught in delusion, as if caught in a bubble. Focusing on compassion, we should be as helpful to others as we can, bringing them to a better place. With kindness, we must try to nurture and cherish others as much as possible. This is how we should develop and engage in this second magnificent consciousness.
Cleansing All Grudges
Third, we must cleanse all our grudges: those that have taken root, with aggression evident in our mind; and those present as tendencies, seeds. If we don’t eliminate all grudges, we will not live in peace, we will not sleep well at night. We tend to hold onto a lot of grudges from the past, and allow grudges to increase in the present. During the day we have interactions with so many people who provoke us and bring about unpleasant feelings.
Since we are not steeped in this practice of cleansing grudges, our mind immediately creates and holds grudges against others. Even if it doesn’t manifest immediately as harm to others, a grudge creates ill will, and harm eventually emerges. So before that happens, we must look at our mind each day and night and cleanse any grudges we are holding. This applies to anything that gives even a slight feeling of discomfort. All of this “discomfort food”Â of our mind comes from grudges, so as soon as we feel anything, we should cleanse it immediately.
We have to develop tolerance and patience, not for others’ sake, but for our own. The main thing at risk here is our own peace. We have no greater priority than to preserve our peace of mind, our joyous, cheerful state of mind. The core of this practice is to constantly cleanse the heart of any dirt or debris of grudges. By doing so we can become like the Kadampa, always remaining peacefully in a joyful state, without any disturbance whatsoever.
No negativity is greater than aggression and anger. Nothing is more powerful than anger, because it destroys any sense of peace and joy in your life and in others’ lives. Therefore, among all the practices, there is nothing more significant and precious to develop than patience and tolerance.
Disturbing emotions always come from some kind of grudge, resentment, or lack of appreciation. We must appreciate all that comes to us, even what is disturbing. We must try to get beyond our resistance, beyond the dualism of “pleasant”Â and “unpleasant,”Â “Âjoyful”Â and “not joyful.”Â We must try to see it all as equal, not resenting the unpleasant; try to develop equanimity, and cleanse our mind of any poisonous grudges and resentment. If we succeed, we will never become irritated.
If you think about it, irritation is illogical. You get irritated with one person, but not with someone else. If irritation is really uncontrollable from your side, then why become irritated with one person, but not with someone else? Why do we get irritated with someone we regard as inferior, but suck up to someone we look up to? It is totally undemocratic and biased. Nobody gets irritated when they are in control.
We must recognize that this is illogical, and also quite petty. We need to move beyond this pettiness, and develop equanimity, patience, and tolerance toward everyone.
Remember that this should be done with the belief of, “I can do it!”Â rather than “I can’t.”Â When you think, “I can’t, it’s too hard,”Â you’re shifting gears to go downhill. But when you say, “I can, it’s possible, I will,”Â you’re making a shift to move uphill. Downhill or uphill, it’s up to you.
If you are going down now, you will keep moving down in this life, and into the lower realms in the next life. If you are going up, you will benefit tremendously in this life, and as the result of patience, there will be tremendous benefit in your following lives, particularly in your spiritual path. So make sure you have the gearshift in your hand, and know that how you shift is your choice, not something out of your control. In this way we can develop patience and let go of all our grudges.
When you dwell on your grudges, you bring such unhealthiness into your mind, and lead yourself into depression. So if you feel any responsibility to safeguard your well-being, then grudges are the main things you need to eliminate to protect this most important part of your life. The third magnificent consciousness then is getting rid of all grudges.
(Continues with Part 2)
Taken from Like a Diamond, Talk 6
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