Quotes by Tulku Thondup
To be mindful doesn’t mean to become emotionally intense or to stir up hosts of concepts in order to watch what we are thinking or doing. On the contrary, the mind is relaxed and calm, and therefore sharply aware of every event as it is, without conceptual and emotional struggle.
When we notice that our mind is wandering, we should gently but firmly bring ourselves back to the present and to what we are doing.
Every mother-being wants to be happy, just as a thirst-tormented person wants water. Most beings, however, have no idea how to secure happiness. Confused, they grasp at anything that they think will be rewarding. But they go about it in the wrong way — through grasping, attachment, obsession, or aggression. At best, they are chasing rainbows. At worst, they end up hurting themselves, like someone who tries to lick honey off the sharp edge of a knife.
If we lack peace of mind, then what good does it do us to have youth, beauty, health, wealth, education, and worldly power?
The obstacles that we may face include having expectations, lack of self-confidence, indifference, and unwholesome distractions and activities. If we keep entertaining these negative acts and not believing in ourselves, thinking, “I’m not doing the practice well enough,” “I’m not capable,” “Everything is fated, so why should I try?”—at best, these acts and thoughts will divert us from our goal and slow down our spiritual progress. At worst, indulging in distractions, unwholesome activities, and negative attitudes will drag us on the wrong track and slowly lead us into the worst possible way of living, destroying all the possible fruits that this amazing human life could bring us.
Try to remember to pray and enjoy the Buddha’s presence and blessings at the time of death, and especially try to remember him after death.
Note that all dualistic concepts and emotions – even positive ones such as caring, compassion, and wishing others well – are accompanied by grasping at ‘self’. So although positive emotions are good, they still fall short of perfection, which is the primordial wisdom beyond dualistic thinking and emotional sensations.
Grasping at positive qualities is nonetheless a stepping-stone to perfection, helping us eventually to loosen the grip of grasping at ‘self’ and to experience sensations of peace and joy. So transforming from negative to positive, and then from positive to perfection, is the ideal way to move towards the full perfection of buddhahood.
In ultimate space, boundless radiance of the enlightened qualities is always glowing spontaneously, limitlessly, and ceaselessly.
Unless one is omniscient or at least enjoys some degree of clairvoyance, no one can judge others. One can see how others appear and how they are behaving, but not who they are or why they are behaving in a particular manner. For example, enlightened ones such as buddhas, bodhisattvas, and sages appear in peaceful forms and wrathful forms, but all their activities will be for serving others with love. This is why the fully enlightened Buddha said, “Apart from myself and those like me, no one can judge another person.”
Why do we need dualistic practices, such as generating merit, to reach a state that transcends duality? Because we have to start from where we are. Our mind’s true nature is covered by karmic turbulence caused by our grasping at self and our negative mental habits. “Grasping at a self” refers to the way we grasp at mental objects as truly existing, perceiving them dualistically as subject and object. The aspect of our mind that perceives this way is conceptual mind. Conceptual mind and the true nature of mind are like the surface and depths of the ocean: The surface is choppy with wind-tossed waves; beneath it is still and peaceful.
Most of us can’t glimpse into the depths, our true nature, because our conceptual mind is constantly churning out turbulence. Grasping at self tricks us, like a nightmare, into believing that we are separate from the world and each other. This triggers negative emotions, from craving and anxiety to jealousy and aggression, which spill out into unhealthy words and actions.
Every dualistic perception, every negative thought, feeling, word, and deed, leaves a negative karmic imprint in our conceptual mind that walls us off from our true nature. On the other hand, positive mentalities leave positive karmic imprints that open our mind, loosen grasping at self, and thin out the barriers to our true nature.
As long as we have dualistic concepts and emotions, the world is solid to us. Our suffering is all too real. Circumstances matter. If our surroundings are chaotic, it will be hard to find tranquillity. If we experience peace and joy, however, we will be inspired to generate even more peace and joy. Then whatever we say and do will be the words and deeds of joy and peace. We progressively loosen our grasping at self, and eventually we glimpse the luminous nature of our mind. If we perfect this realization, we uproot grasping at self and become fully awakened.
The benefits to be gained from understanding impermanence from the depth of our heart are vast.