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.
You may browse directly to any of the calendars to find out more about the teaching schedules of Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, Dungse Jampal Namgyel, or Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel. In addition, you can 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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» Remedying A Shaky Mind: Part 3 – Acknowledging Our True Strengths
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Recalling what we covered previously, choosing faith is the first remedy that gives us strength in difficult situations. This, in turn, brings about the possibility of surrendering as the second remedy. The third and final remedy which I’d like to explain is the genuine and sincere acknowledgement that these two are indeed truly important strengths, and how they can transform us. So, to summarize, this is the complete and authentic practice: faith, surrender, and finally, acknowledgement.
Genuine acknowledgement must come from a place of very deep honesty in oneself. In this, there is nothing to fear at all. Even if you are a beginner, and have barely started a relationship with the Three Jewels, there’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s true, of course, that further familiarity, through taking refuge, or through any of the Buddhist practices, will enliven your experience of this. We may not understand it word for word right now, or be able to process it very well with our brain in the beginning. Nonetheless we can generally comprehend how it all works. With this as a beginning, it can all become very alive for us.
One thing that we all fear is pain, and the pain becoming overwhelming. But let’s ask, what is pain in the real sense? Basically, pain is non-acceptance. Sometimes what you truly desire on one day is, at other times, painful. If the pain itself were solid and real, then how could you at one time reject it, while at another time desire it? If it were something truly so solid and real, it couldn’t change like that so easily.
This demonstrates that non-acceptance, in other words our response to the sensation we perceive, is the biggest component of so-called pain. For instance, on a certain day you might actually want an experience of physical pain. Pain is a type of intense sensation and, of course, there is both physical pain and emotional pain. You might actually want the experience of a physical sensation that hurts. For example, sometimes you’d like a massage that really goes deep and gives you the sensation of pain where it is needed. In that case, you actually want this painful sensation. You’re thinking, “Oh, this is great. This is working on the deep tissues, releasing all those toxins, etc.” You ask the therapist to dig deeper. “Harder, harder,” you say.
At other times you may slip or fall down, and get injured by something. It’s the same sensation, but this time you actually don‘t want that sensation of pain. So with these examples of physical pain, the sensation itself is the same thing in either case, but it’s the non-acceptance and rejection which causes the actual experience of pain.
In terms of emotional pain, first let’s think about how often we go to the movies, or watch a program, in order to experience all kinds of emotions: sadness, fear, anxiousness, exhilaration, all of these and more. With this so-called “entertainment,” we may actually seek those emotions. We’ll say, “Oh, what a great movie!” Or, “What a tragic movie,” or “What a sensational movie!” “This should definitely win an Academy Award.”
So, in this case you actually want all of those experiences. Whether it’s somebody else’s experience or not, we are there to witness and feel it ourselves, and we consider it a desirable experience. We try to actively conjure up these feelings and emotions so that we identify with Robert DeNiro or whoever our favorite actor is. These are times when we “want” such experiences.
When you see an actor who can really cry as if they are truly brokenhearted, you admire that acting ability. If you’re an actress or actor, you want that ability yourself. But at other times, when that broken-heartedness really happens to us, then there is rejection, which creates pain. In real life, as we all know, there is usually rejection of that experience.
Basically what turns an experience into being painful or not, is acceptance or non-acceptance, and how you view it. The sensation itself does not really determine so much one way or the other whether it is felt as painful or not. And who is it who wants it or does not want it, anyway? It is of course the ego. When the ego wants it, pain can actually become pleasure. When ego doesn’t want it, then that same experience will be considered as painful. When you really understand this clearly, then you no longer have to be afraid of physical or emotional sensations.
Instead, it makes more sense to be afraid of what it is that causes you to block the experience. Be afraid of becoming so picky and choose-y, and spoiled at your core, like a young child. Honestly, it’s not necessary to be literally afraid of this, but we should use our intelligence purposefully to look at this. We should always be able to recognize the one who is rejecting an experience with so much aversion, and with such attachment to that aversion. In this, we feel such a strong attachment to the self. This is the ego we all have that is spoiled rotten, and yet so powerful. That is what we need to be concerned about.
When you don’t have enough faith or willingness to surrender to the Three Jewels, or to surrender to the goodness of the world, then this picking and choosing, this non-acceptance and rejection will always preoccupy you. There’s really no other chance to get away from this process, unless we have faith.
When you do choose faith, when you can surrender (and especially if you are able to practice taking refuge and cultivating bodhicitta) then this rejection and non-acceptance loses its power over you. In time it becomes completely undermined by the power of the practice of faith. So when you’re doing any of this practice very sincerely with faith and devotion, that strong tendency of rejection becomes weaker and weaker. You can literally feel your brain and heart opening up, softening and unfolding.
Otherwise, one’s mind becomes closed off, and it almost feels as though there is some dense, black substance inside your brain. Your heart feels closed off too, leaving a very cold, icy feeling of pain inside. I think this is what should be our biggest concern.
So nurture the ability to have faith, and to surrender through prayers and the capacity to accept any outcome as a good outcome. Then finally, acknowledge that having such ability is actually the greatest strength of your mind, instead of seeing only weakness there. This is the same method that has been used by all the great enlightened teachers who were so brilliant and sharp, even the incredible masters of logic and reasoning. Since we are students of that tradition, we follow this method.
As a result, we gain the ability to rest our mind and not worry so much about sensations, since we understand how sensations can at one time be seen as pleasure, yet another time be seen as pain. We understand that these experiences are all determined by rejection and the attachment of the ego. Then we no longer give so much power to the ego, and instead allow a natural liberation from that inner drama to occur.
The great Indian master, Nagarjuna once said, “What is samsara? Samsara is a thought. What is nirvana? It is freedom from that thought.”
Nagarjuna makes it seem very simple, and perhaps it’s not as simple as that may sound. Yet in certain ways it is that simple. Thought is not merely the source of our confusion, it is our confusion, whereas our essential nature, our Buddha nature is that which is beyond thought; in other words, nirvana itself.
Consider that you have billions of thoughts each day. Of course, they’re not always disturbing thoughts. But when we speak of seeing thought as samsara, it is the underlying belief in a self as something intrinsic, as inherently valid that creates all our confusion. This belief lies beneath all our thoughts. As well, it is our deep-seated and unquestioned belief in an intrinsic essence of all phenomena that lies at the heart of our confusion. All that belief in the intrinsic validity of the self and phenomena is precisely what locks us into thought and binds us in samsara.
I hope that when we can begin to recognize this and see everything in this way, it will help awaken more faith. We can actually just pray for more faith. I know that, for me personally, fulfilling my devotion, experiencing complete devotion, without any “holes” in it, is the fulfillment of my whole path. For devotion or faith is the relative practice, that carries us to the realization of the absolute.
Taken from Personal Link talk # 221 | Date of talk: 04-09-2006
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