Quotes by Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche
To be a meditator, there has to be some piece of bone in the heart, nyingru in Tibetan. Think how much people go through to become a ballerina or pianist. Without that bone in the heart, how could they succeed? Then, to become enlightened, you definitely must have that bone on the heart and not think that everything should come easily to you, without any inconvenience or discomfort. That kind of impediment, once it seizes you, can be difficult to overcome. You can't be a pampered meditator, pampered dharma practitioner.
Growing a thicker skin as a kind of immunity to repeated pains in your life is not dharma practice. Dharma practice is wisdom and skillful means that we use to gain freedom from those sufferings so that they do not return.
Without self awareness, you are technically not involved in the practice of dharma. In that sense, dharma practice is not similar to fixing an object with manual skill, something that does not necessarily require analysis and self awareness. Dharma practice must involve your own self awareness of your experience.
As you find out what is taking place in your mind, you follow up by applying the teachings themselves with an accurate measurement until mind is resolved, until your pain is lessened, until you are free to move on in a healthy state of mind, carrying no baggage of the past, harboring no fear that the baggage will return in the future.
Emptiness doesn’t exist in isolation from appearance. The two truths are always in union in that way.
If we care about pleasing enlightened beings, we have to serve sentient beings, because the welfare of beings is their greatest concern. When we harm beings, we’re also hurting the buddhas and bodhisattvas. (TIH)
In the conventional world, there is no remedy for mental suffering. There's some for physical suffering: antibiotics, pain killers, etc.... But not for emotional and mental. Some drugs, we're not sure. It's more grin-and-bear it, wait for it to be over. That's very hard. But, a spiritual path with skillful means is very important. You can learn to work with your mind in these ways. See it as a way to generate a compassionate heart. To have compassion in your head won't do much. To have it in the meditative state is good.
When you practice compassion, don't "feel" the pain. When you feel the pain, you don't have any space left to practice compassion to anybody. Whenever you practice compassion keep very detached, with attachment...do you understand? This takes balance. "Compassion is something you hold, equanimity is how you detach." Without these two together, only holding, holding, you will get so sucked into the pain of others that you don't have the will and strength to continue to work. It's energy draining, you're already losing energy, you're tired, you loose the energy to work.
These kind of things, honestly speaking, it's not in the books, it's something you have to practice practically. When I practice compassion, I say "Oh nyingye poor guy" (snaps) then in that very moment I bring up equanimity, emptiness meditation, equanimity. Right away I detach, without feeling the pain which drags you in. If you wallow in the pain you feel regret, you feel guilt, like you can't do anything, you feel so bad, then you start blaming everybody, you start blaming the Sangha. Why do we do this? Compassion is something to DO, something good, not blaming others. That is practicality my dears, practical, practice, it's not theory, Dharma practice is not theory... go IN to practice. (9Y)
It's important to state at the outset that emptiness doesn't refer to a void or black hole. It is not the same as nonexistence. To say that a person or thing is "empty" simply means that it doesn't exist in the intrinsic way we think it does. When we say phenomena are empty, we mean that we can't grasp them or pin them down. It doesn't mean that they don't function or appear to our senses.
Devotion doesn't require any other resources than supplicating from the depth of one's heart with faith. But you don't become devout just in one moment; you rely on the cumulative experience of your habit of devotion and faith. Those experiences provide us with evidence and are the opposite of blind faith.
Hearing wisdom is boundless, immeasurable, and one mark of it is humility because of your awe of the depth there is to plumb as well as those before you who have accumulated much wisdom.
The notion of enlightenment means "not bound". Not bound to what? Not bound to one's own mind in ordinary ways; not bound in confusion to all the suffering that one’s mind has produced and is experiencing. So the notion of enlightenment is not something outside of one's own mind.
We cannot imagine achieving enlightenment, let alone perfecting any of the qualities of buddhahood, if we hold to ourselves as who we think we are right now — with the way we think and the validity that we give to our own mind and its existence.
Prayers and aspirations are not secondary to actions; they are the true expression of yourself. Actions are a result of prayers and aspirations.
Realizing interdependence leads us to the naked understanding of reality beyond the extremes of existence and nonexistence—reality empty of all conceptual contrivances. A disciple of the Buddha once asked him, “What is emptiness?” The Buddha then entered the nonverbal state of meditation. Manjushri explained that this was the Buddha’s expression free of all contrivances, a state of non-grasping and freedom from shenpa. There is not much to say about the nature of emptiness. The only characteristic you could say it possesses is a freedom from all characteristics. If you want to know more about the meaning of emptiness, you’ll have to sit on your cushion and find out for yourself.
If someone is to become a practitioner, a true student of Dharma, that person has to know that practice is an essential part of one's life, intimately interwoven with one's own experience. Of course, we need to keep our jobs. We need to be responsible with our family. We need to do a lot of different things in our lives, but none of these become essential. Rather, they become important in support of what we find the most meaningful in life — becoming a student of Dharma, a practitioner of Dharma. All these other things are simply in support of that. In this way, then, our interest in the Dharma and practice will not wane over time. It gets stronger as we directly experience its results and benefits.
Altruism has no hidden agenda. It is a heart that has open love and care for all and the absence of self-centeredness.
Aggression fixes its logic on the wrongness of other and always possesses the distinctive feature of aversion. We see that aggression results, to some degree or another, in our not responding well to situations. We lose our poise and dignity and get all keyed up like a nervous little dog barking and jumping around, trying to intimidate others.
If you want any courage and well being that comes from holding your own seat, it has to come from knowing your mind, and knowing what the world is made of as a product of your thoughts. One will be able to ride gracefully through life with this understanding.
If you could have anything you desire, the best thing to wish for would be a mind of kindness, for that is the source of all happiness.
The Three Yanas and the Beetle: How each level of Buddhist practice approaches saving a beetle from drowning in a pool of water.
In the Hinayana, we save the beetle because of our vow to not harm any living being and to practice non-violence, ahimsa.
In the Mahayana, we help because the beetle is a life, a mother sentient being, and just like us is striving to be happy and free from suffering in everything it does. Also we never know our connection to beings; the beetle could be the rebirth of a loved one we have lost. So we honor that and save the beetle.
In the Vajrayana, we recognize the enlightened nature of all beings and see the beetle's essence as dharmata that likewise pervades all beings equally. We save the beetle as we recognize the three kayas of the beetle's enlightened nature.
If there's any way to secure our well-being in the face of death, it is by knowing life to be illusory. Not by holding on to life, and life's attachments, and wanting to keep them all intrinsic.
If we can see life is illusory, and that life's very nature is emptiness, then just like a child being born in a dream, though born, there is no realness to that child. Then how could death for that child be ever real?
So hopefully in that our hour, we will have that experience. We must make an aspiration to have that experience, and therefore not feel so much of a loss, or despair and fright to face the unknown.
In essence, at the time of dissolution, if you could understand all up to that point was illusion, then death will be illusion too.
Think about what you are most attached to and how your life would be if it was removed. You would feel anxious and ungrounded, like your world was falling apart – that is the measure of your attachment.
We see how we are attached to our life, our health, our wealth, and our security. But in the world of samsara, has anyone lived forever, with perfect security and with perfect arrangements? No, I don’t think so. So in that way, whatever we are working to hold onto, it is futile and there has to be acceptance of this.
Acceptance and attachment don’t go together very well – Attachment seeks to make the impossible become possible.
If you practice unnaturally, you won’t be able to maintain the show.
Feeling this warm expression of our heart, and being able to express that in the moment, is the happiness that we all long for. Without that, is anything really happiness in life?
There is no such thing as a vacation from working with our mind. We should continually contemplate how we can go deeper in our practice. Mind training requires nothing external, not even a cushion. All we need is a mind, and that we always have.
Once the four thoughts that turn the mind towards the dharma dawn in your mind, to know what to do next is very simple. Take refuge in your heart in Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Generate bodhicitta. In order to generate bodhicitta, establish your mind in the four immeasurables firmly, deeply, profoundly, one-pointedly, without any hestiations or self-doubts. (ST)
A good practitioner trains oneself continually, proactively, repeatedly, so that relations become like good wine, like a good Bordeaux, getting only better with age rather than turning to vinegar. He or she finds only more things to appreciate about the other person over time; more things to really trust and rely on and depend on that previously there wasn’t perhaps a ground to do so. You choose not to know what the other would say right away, but instead grow in the relationship with mutual support, mutual ease, mutual appreciation for the common bond.
Many people are afraid of being brainwashed by religion. But there is no fear of brainwashing in Buddhism; we know we are already brainwashed by ego. Because ego does nothing but create pain and suffering, Buddhism is about getting unbrainwashed. It’s about waking up from this hypnotic state of subservience to ego. Through meditation and self-reflection, our own awareness bears witness to ego’s “indoctrination”. (IUTY)
When we stop ignoring the futility of samsara, we enter the path of liberation. Without self-reflection, we can't take this step. Habitual tendencies cause us to ignore impermanence, karma, and the suffering of samsara.
Liberation is found wherever discursive thoughts truly dissolve. Whether they spin to the left or the right or around in circles, thoughts are just thoughts. They are dissolved through practice and a sense of humor.
Psychological and emotional well-being comes from two things, and I feel inspired by people whom I have observed. I would like to encourage you to have these two qualities: positive thinking and much love in the heart. (TTT)
The Uniqueness of Dharma
Other than the Dharma, we cannot find teachings that express a complete understanding of our own innate mind, how our confusion begins and, ultimately, how it stops.
These days I hear many people talk to me about their meditation using the words like “trying to stop your thoughts” I would like to say that this is incorrect terminology, this is not the true teachings of the Buddha. If you think you are trying to “stop your thoughts”, it means you do not understand. You need to see that thoughts, from the beginning, were not truly there. So why would you need to stop thoughts? Honestly, you could say “transform your thoughts”, eh thats ok. You could say “realize the nature of thoughts”, that's a little better. Or you could say “seeing that thought is unborn from the beginning”... that's very good. So you can see that the way of expression is very very important.
The phenomenal world is much more fascinating and juicy when we stop grasping… wanting… craving. This is because the mind is present, the senses wide open, and the conceptual mind relaxed. We make tremendous space in our mind when we let go of this “can’t live without it” desperation.
We could all use more humor in our lives. Having a sense of humor doesn’t mean laughing and being cheerful all the time. It means seeing the illusory nature of things—and seeing how, in this illusory life, we are always bumping into the very things we meticulously try to avoid. Humor allows us to see that ultimately things don’t make sense. The only thing that truly makes sense is letting go of anything we continue to hold on to. Our ego-mind and emotions are a dramatic illusion. Of course, we all feel that they’re real: my drama, your drama, our confrontations. We create these elaborate scenarios and then react to them. But there is nothing really happening outside of our mind! This is karma’s cosmic joke. You can laugh about the irony of this, or you can stick with your scenario. It’s your choice. (IUTY)
Understanding that caring for others is by its very nature peaceful and joyful helps us discern whether our true focus is on ourselves or on others. But if we find in this way that our focus is on ourselves, we don't need to feel guilty or despondent (which in themselves are ways of clinging to the small self). Simply shift the focus by applying the lojong teachings, particularly the exchange of self and other, and you will find relief in your mind. (TIH)
One of the function of the lojong slogans is that they help us discriminate among our stories. They teach us how to think about our lives in both the most honest and most favorable ways. Stories are helpful to us when they are in line with how things naturally function in the world - with the laws of cause and effect. Such stories lead us to greater harmony and happiness. Unhelpful stories merely perpetuate our confusion. (TIH)
The purpose of renouncing this life is to enhance the short time we have on this earth! Being preoccupied with struggles which will not bear fruit because we can't let go of our attachments, that's what we renounce. One who can really give up in this way as a practitioner will have the greatest life on earth and the greatest joy on earth, and the greatest ease and relaxation. The point of giving up attachments in this life is to enjoy life more. Look at the great practitioners, they enjoy their lives so very much.
Observing your mind can be very humorous. It doesn't have to be serious, dark, or developing some aggression towards yourself. Just observing openly, objectively, with a humor. It will save so much of the trouble that we go through.
IUTY - It's Up to You: The Practice of Self-Reflection on the Buddhist Path
ST - Shedra Teachings
TTT - Tsewa: Training in Tenderness
9Y - 9 Yanas retreat Cooperstown, NY Aug 2013
TIH - The Intelligent Heart