(In an auspicious day in 2014, Rinpoche held a Dharma teaching in Shanghai, he gave speeches on topics regarding how to combine Buddha's teaching with our lives, how to gain wisdom and compassion, as well as how to make our lives more meaningful.)
This is an auspicious day, I am very glad to see the first big Dharma gathering of our association happening in such a peaceful environment! We have to thank the deity of our group practice, Kurukulle, for her blessing on our fortune and merits.
During this event, and the massive life release we held couple days ago, our administrators and organizers in Shanghai worked very hard, because of their diligent efforts, everything was successfully done. Thanks to them, we are able to attend these events, all we have to do was to show up on time, isn't that wonderful? There are many Dharma gatherings happening nowadays in different places, in which attendants only show up in ritual and superficial ways, without truly helping sentient beings with Dharma. We are very fortunate to be in such a properly organized Buddhist association, with members from the entire country truly focus on Dharma practice! When I first visited Wu-Han, I only had around ten students, today we have hundreds of practitioners attending in this event. To ensure the event could be organized smoothly, we didn't even send notice to all our members, we should truly be thankful to this precious opportunity.
Life is impermanent and precious, we must spend our time in some meaningful ways before it ends. Life release, mantra and sutrarecitation are our main daily practices, more importantly we should also benefit our family and friends, to encourage them step into the Buddhist's path, so they can make good connection to Dharma as well. We are a Vajrayana Buddhist association, our most important thing to do is to generate Bodhicitta and renunciation, and bring benefits to self and others. Dharma practice should not be a habitual, superficial chore, instead it should be done in practical ways, so our good actions can be truly meaningful. Our recitation and offering practices should be compliance with the guidance of our masters, instead of following our own habitual patterns. I'm glad to see even we had many Dharma gatherings, many of my students are doing it with proper motivation and conducts. As we have seen during New years, tens of thousands of people were offering incenses in Beijing's Royal Buddhist Temple, they were all praying for personal fortune and happiness, very few of them understood the meaning of Bodhicitta, or concern the happiness of other sentient beings. Their massive offering and recitation would indeed generate some merits, however without step by step practices, Bodhicitta and true wisdom can never arise in our mind, those can only be obtained through contemplation on Dharma, and pure, selfless motivations. The more we share, the more fortune and happiness we will gain, when dedicating our practices to other sentient beings, our merits will constantly grow and will last forever. Our wisdom and aspirations are inseparable with our happiness, as smokes always come after fires. Many of my old students here can be the witnesses, after these many years of good actions to help sentient beings, many positive changes have happened to their personal lives, they did receive wisdom, compassion, as well as worldly fortune and happiness, due to their selfless motivation.
There's another type of people, who often come to me and says:"I've had every fortune and happiness I needed, without anything else to pursuit, hence I do not want to practice Dharma and mantras, those are boring." Due to lack of wisdom, they couldn't recognize the impermanent nature of our life, and they did not understand fortune, fame and power cannot last forever, no matter how successful they are. When impermanence happens, successful people often have more fears in mind, they fear about losing what they have, their wealth, their power and families in a big downfall. In the other hand, we are very fortunate to live in the world's most fortunate era, where Dharma can be easily accessed by everyone in the society. Hence the best advice I wish to give you, is to cherish our precious human birth, and diligently uphold Dharma practice, because we never know when our lives will end. If we don't practice Dharma, we will be like bees non-stop gathering honey from flowers, thinking those flowers would last forever. We have seen too many examples of impermanence, even life is good at present, you never know what will happen tomorrow, therefore please spend your time wisely in meaningful ways.
- Modern retirement life
When I took my mother to have a walk in parks in the cities, we've always seen senior people spending their retirement life on Mahjong and socials, none of them were able to recite "Amitabha", little did they know that their life time is draining away, and their death is near. My mother felt pity for them, while I told her:"Maybe they feel pity for you as well, thinking our material life in Tibet is hard, compare to them living in big cities." However my mother loves offering incenses and prostrations, her true happiness is being able to offer circumambulation to stupas and sacred mountains. Different perspective of life leads to two different attitudes, which may have two different results.
- Altitudes to our families and friends
After receiving positive changes in our lives, many practitioners wished to share those happiness with their parents and friends. However, most parents have different education and back grounds than their children, they are not likely to accept Buddhism, not only because of lack of understanding, but also due to their pride, thinking they are the seniors in the family, and should not learn from the younger generations. What shall we do when this happens? Remember, before attempting to introduce Dharma teaching to anyone else, we should first develop good personality for ourselves, we need to be patient and assertive to all families and friends, tolerate and understand those who reject Dharma, and treat them all with respect and good temper. By doing this, all people in your life will be gradually influenced by your gentle personality, which will indirectly attract them to Dharma. It is the same for the relationship between couples, Dharma practice shouldn't be taking all your time away from family life, completing chores in the house not only can make your spouse happy, but also is a way to accumulate merits. As Dharma practitioners, our daily life should be inseparable with practices, we just need to use our wisdom to find the good balance between both, in this way, what we are doing will not only make families and friends happy, but also will bring positive changes to their lives.
- Childhood habits
Because of the merits you accumulated from the past, at the moment you met your Guru, you have become Dharma practitioners, and started helping sentient beings with good actions, these will not happen if we didn't have any benevolent connections with Dharma in previous lives. When I was a young child, different than my several brothers, I like wearing monastic's robes. We didn't have good material conditions back then, I did not have a proper robe, so I pretended to be enrobed by wearing a red cloth, and I gathered some rocks in front of me and pretended they were my students. (laugh). Khenpo Hua-Dan grew up together with me, we always played games pretending we were monastic, we used wood sticks and pans as Dharma drums, we used rocks to build stupas and Mani stone walls, and we were spreading little rocks on those stupas as we were spreading rice in blessing rituals, as we learned from some elder monks. It was a lot of fun doing those in my childhood. As our Buddha said, what we like to do in our childhood reflects our actions in previous lives, that is absolutely true. One time, my father bought me a red piggy, Khenpo Hua-Dan and I released it, without anyone telling us to do so. Nowadays Khenpo Hua-dan is traveling a lot to teach Dharma, and I am guiding many students in the Buddhist's path, we are all following the traces of our childhood habits.
I'm very glad to see all of you are getting better in recitation. In the past some of you were amazed by my fluent chanting of the Eight Auspicious Prayer, and The Great Clouds of Blessing. We Tibetan started learning those prayers since childhood, while other cultures mostly educate their children with worldly sciences. A big proportion of adult Tibetan's knowledge are from Buddhist teachings, instead of worldly sciences. Tibetan culture is becoming the core culture of Buddhism in the world, because of its pure lineage and unpolluted teachings came directly from the Buddha, while in others cultures, Buddhism has gone through destructive events in history, losing many precious teachings and scriptures. In Tibet, now and in the past, many great practitioners have attained emptiness and rainbow bodies, those were real. The myths of Tibetan culture has drawn the attentions of China main land and the entire world, more and more people are interested in Tibetan culture, most of them were only interested in those supernatural phenomena, while some Chinese and Westerns did receive positives changes in their lives, and gained wisdom and compassion after making deep connections with Dharma.
- Life Release
Time passes by so fast! we have already saved 800 million animals in our life releases, it was exhaustive to do these group practices, but we are all happy for these accomplishments. When I first made the aspiration to release lives, I was excited by releasing even 1000 lives, thinking when am I able to reach the number of 100 million, a number that seems impossible for me. With the blessing from our Lineage masters, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, now we have more than 20 life release groups in China, capable of releasing 100 million lives each year, soon the number of our life release will be reaching 800 million. I never took these merits as my own, all I did was to teach the Dharma I knew with patient, these good deeds were accomplished by everyone in the association, who participated with pure motivations and spent a lot of efforts and resources. Just like when building the Palace of Peaceful and Wrathful deities this year, more than 200 Dharma friends came and worked together, we completed it within a short time, we were all extremely happy to see such a meritorious task done, it will be our field of merits. With all these money supports received from you, I am able to accomplish more good deeds, I feel my life become more meaningful, I constantly pray for our lineage gurus' blessing, so I would never stray from my path of helping sentient beings with good actions.
I would like to talk about renunciation, which you may not have in mind during practices. Dharma practice is a gradual process, it has to be done step by step, renunciation should be our first step, it is also the foundation of our practice. Some students wished to achieve great attainments, however they weren't even able to complete their chore of refuge prayers 11,000 time a year, how is it possible that they could achieve anything else? Just like a worldly student has to go through preliminary school, high school and University, Dharma practice is the same, we need to truly arise Bodhicitta and renunciation following proper procedures. I have a student who thought his renunciation is strong enough at the beginning of his practice, so he decided to enrobe as a monastic. However after a few years, he couldn't stand the ascetic life living in monastery anymore, and went back home as a lay person. After he returned, he has given up all Dharma practices even as a lay practitioner. It was all because he did not truly arise renunciation, we should learn from his mistakes. It is not easy to become a monastic immediately, as long as you can complete the yearly chores of practices I assigned to you, after one year, two years or ten years, you will find many positive changes happen to your body and mind, and will receive perfect enlightenment as lay practitioners.
I will share a story regarding renunciation. When Patrul Rinpoche was young, he lived a beggar's life and traveled through the entire Tibetan Kom region. He didn't have any belongings other than a wooden bowl he loves. One day he went to visit Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, The Great, and saw his guru surrounded by many attendants, living in a gorgeous house with countless treasures. Patrul then had this thought: Jamyang Khyentse must be attached to all his treasures. His notion was immediately detected by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo's mind-reading power, the great master yelled at him:" Patrul! You are over thinking about me! My attachments to these treasure is barely noticeable, when compare to your attachment to that wooden bowl in your hand!" His words blew away all confusions in Patrul's mind, making him realize practitioners may not have to live in ascetic life styles, what really matters is whether they can free themselves from attachments. Some of you also worry about when having less attachments, you will lost motivations in your worldly job, in fact that will not happen for wise practitioners, the purpose of our practice is to dissolve our craving on worldly status and wealth, so we are able to take as they come, and let loose as they go. The more renunciation and compassion we have, the more intention we will arise to help others, thus we will receive more merits and fortune, and never have to worry about losing our worldly jobs. Because our worldly status came from our own merits, nobody else can take those away from us. In the other hand, nobody is able to gain worldly fortune without first accumulating merits, no matter how hard he is trying to get them.
- Stages of our mind
We must arise renunciation, it is the important foundation of our practice. Constantly review our mind, and we will find its three different stages after practicing Dharma. The first stage, is when we are still ordinary people, our mind is constantly in affliction, unsteady like waterfalls; The second stage is after some Dharma practice and contemplation, our mind will gradually settle down, calm as a glacier lake in Plateau; The third stage, is after making bigger process in Dharma practices, our mind will become vast and infinite, like an ocean. If we find out our own stages through reviewing our mind, we will be able to find out what kind of practices is best for ourselves. Practices such as meditation, recitation and prostrations are good for us, they can help accumulate merits for our final goal - enlightenment. As long as we keep up the diligent, eventually all our mind will become compassionate, infinite as the ocean.
Today I feel very comfortable and relaxing in this Dharma gathering, in the past, I always had pressure holding these types of events, because I worried about the crowded environment would distract the neighborhoods, hence I dare not speak loudly. Every time I return to Tibet from Cheng-Du, I always feel like going back to a more comfortable world. In fact it is still the same world, what matters is our perspective has changed. Modern people have a lot of pressures living in the cities, their anger and desire are controlling their mind. Dharma practice is the only way to truly free our mind from all the afflictions in the world, and return to our peaceful, unattached true nature. Nowadays more and more people are interested in Dharma practice, we still haven't acquire the conditions to hold massive Dharma gatherings, I hope one day, we are able to hold Dharma gatherings in sport arenas, as some Taiwanese masters are doing, so we can bring more sentient beings to liberation!
I hope you can stay harmony as Dharma brothers and sisters along your future path, that is what makes me happy. As Dharma brothers and sisters, we should never slander each other, or stray from our guru's guidance. Make good use of our precious human birth, and contemplate, practice Dharma with diligent, that is the key. Nobody is able to attain realization of emptiness immediately, without going through practices in procedures, if we follow the Buddha's guidance, I believe every Buddhist students is able to attain perfect enlightenment.
That is all my teaching for today, thank you everyone, Tashi-Delek!