28 Sep 2012
Teaching pt1. Yesterday, we addressed the first of three forms of suffering: suffering of suffering or blatant suffering. Its primary cause is hatred/anger due to getting what we don’t want or not getting what we do want. While renunciation for oneself and compassion for others are antidotes, ethics constitute the basic remedy and can be summarized as not harming others and being helpful to others when possible. Today, we look at the suffering of change which isn’t obvious to most. Its primary cause is attachment, especially to the impermanent as permanent. The basic remedy for attachment is samadhi. Sadly, samadhi has become somewhat neglected in buddhism with many teachers and students alike believing that just a dab will do, yet not achieving samadhi breaks one of the bodhisattva vows.
Meditation: compassion. Begin by attending inward. Is it true that craving leads to suffering? With every in breath, “May I be free from suffering and its causes of attachment/craving.” Visualize them as darkness dissolving into the white orb at your heart chakra without a trace. Turn attention outwards to a person or group who is suffering due to craving/attachment. “May you like me be free from suffering and its causes of attachment. May we cultivate samadhi. May we be free.” With each breath, imagine each one becoming free.
Teaching pt2. The 20th century has been the worst era for buddhism. Communism dealt a nearly lethal blow to buddhism in several Asian countries. Some teachers say that the times are so degenerate that one should not even try to gain any realizations. Such an attitude would finish off buddhadharma. The Dalai Lama supports the creation of a contemplative observatory in Bangalore open to contemplatives of various traditions and scientists alike with the aspiration to revitalize the contemplative traditions of the world, so that each one can rediscover its own treasures.
Meditation starts at 16:50
So this morning we return to the meditative cultivation of compassion, you recall that yesterday in terms of the different types of suffering or dimensions of suffering, we tended especially to that it is most obvious to human beings, animals, really all sentient beings, and that literally is called the suffering that is suffering, or the suffering of suffering or in more ordinary English we can call it blatant suffering. It just feels bad. So whether is physical pain, whether is mental distress, we all recognize it, all sentient beings, you don’t need any especial wisdom or anything like that, it is obvious. So in terms of compassion of course we would include that - may we all be free of blatant suffering of body and mind.
(1:32) Among the three root poisons of the mind, the one that strikes me as being most directly related to this blatant suffering, will be of course hatred, hatred or anger. And that is, hatred and anger is always responsible, a response to something that we don’t want. Either we are getting something we don’t want or we are not getting something we do want, but either way we are dissatisfied. But we are not simply dissatisfied, it erupts the dissatisfaction goes almost like a volcano, dissatisfied and then boom, and it blows up like a pot of boiling milk, it spills all over the place. In terms of afflictive anger, and there is such a thing as non- afflictive anger, but for the time being let’s just focus on the mental affliction; it really is a symptom of an inability to cope with reality. It is not a symptom of strength it is a symptom of inability, of weakness. Here is a reality, unable to cope with it, instead of dealing with it, you erupt into a mental affliction and it hurts, it feels awful, the stronger the anger, the worse it feels. So quite clearly it is directly related to blatant suffering.
(2:53) But then in terms of remedies, what can we do just to overall decrease the amount of blatant suffering in the world, out of spirit of compassion for ourselves which we call renunciation, compassion for others which we call compassion, but what can actually we do, you know that is practical, that will have an immediate effect in terms of alleviating if not completely dispelling, but at least let’s start by alleviating the suffering in the world, the blatant suffering that everybody can recognize?
(3:25) And among the three higher trainings, the three trainings of the Buddha, these are the structure of all the Buddha’s teachings, Shravakayana Mahayana, Vajrayana you name it; ethics, Samadhi with all the richness of that term and then wisdom, that really does pretty well cover it. Bodhichitta fits into Samadhi, the four immeasurables fit into Samadhi, a lot fits into Samadhi category, right? And so ethics, among those three, the core principle is so simple, and it is practical, and that is as we wake up each morning just having the aspiration - at very least may I do no harm, may I not inflict any unnecessary and unhelpful injury. A surgeon inflicts injury in order to be of greatest benefit, good. Parents sometimes scold their children, they do not like it but it is for their wellbeing, good. So those are necessary, but so much of the injury we bring, the harm we bring to the world and to ourselves is not necessary and just coming out of mental afflictions. So bottom line: Ahimsa - may I live a non-violent life, having that kind of prime directive and then when there is the opportunity to be of service, when I can be do some good in the world, then I will rise to the opportunity. There it is, that is the whole of ethics and everything else is commentary, right?
(4:47) Well, if all did that, let alone religious belief, be a materialist, be a communist, be a Buddhist, Christian whatever, that didn’t require any metaphysical background there, right? And if we did that, this world would be a radical different place.
(5:10) So I think in a conversation, or perhaps someone wrote a note and said - Oh, I feel like I can do so little. Well you can do awful lot in your little tiny corner of the world, and if all seven billion of us did that little tiny bit in our corner of the world it really would transform the whole planet, and that is with no meditation, nothing higher, no bodhichitta, no four immeasurables, no wisdom, nothing just being ethical, it will transform a lot.
Today, we look at the suffering of change which isn’t obvious to most. Its primary cause is attachment, especially to the impermanent as permanent. The basic remedy for attachment is Samadhi.
(5:38) So now we move on and today will again in terms of meditation on the cultivation of compassion, but this time attending to a dimension of suffering that is simply not obvious, that is invisible to many people, including many people in the mind sciences, in clinical psychology and so forth. It’s not a judgment of the whole tradition at all because it is so diverse, but it is a dimension of suffering that is not visible, that is not obvious to many people, it is called the suffering of change. Literally it is called the suffering of change. Well again the term itself could be a little bit misleading as if the very reality of change necessitates suffering. It doesn’t.
(6:28) So what’s up with change and suffering? Oh, it’s attachment. Among the three mental afflictions what’s the culprit, what’s the most directly related to this so called suffering of change? It’s attachment and it’s especially the kind of attachment that grasps onto the impermanent as permanent. It sounds very abstract maybe philosophical, but the clinging, the grasping, the mental affliction of craving and attachment, of greed, and as I have mentioned before, when one experience it, wanting something desperately like to win a lottery, to have any type of pleasure in this desire realm for example, that very aspiration - Oh, maybe I will get it - there is some happiness in that - maybe I will get it, maybe I will get it. Or if we do get it, we get the new car, we get the new relationship, we get the new something then - oh, I’ve got it! Happiness, happiness! Totally wound up in, wrapped, bound , all up in attachment but you feels good, I like it, I am so glad I got it!
I heard a man who is a quite very prominent politician in America, and this is a direct quote, he says: “when I was a boy I thought if I could be rich and famous I would be happy and boy, I was right!” From a Buddhist perspective – congratulations, you have our deep sympathy. Because you are totally immersed, you are drowning in the ocean of samsara, you have completely conflated attachment with genuine happiness, and you are completely deluded and you are enjoying it. Which means you are really, for the time being - hopeless. Just for the time being. That too will pass. There will come a point in your life where your wealth and your fame are not doing it for you anymore. When you will have been diagnosed with a disease you did not want, etc. Now how is it? Boy does it make you happy? Just wait! It is not a matter of if, it is only a matter of when, that’s it. So attachment, it feels good. Just like soda pop, your favorite soda laced with strychnine. It tastes great. Until you get the after effects. Not so nice.
(8:50)Among the three higher trainings what’s a direct antidote? What’s the most direct antidote for attachment, that mental affliction? You guessed it. It is Samadhi, right? Among the five obscurations what’s one of them? That attachment, that fixation on the bounties of the desire realm. And what’s the direct antidote among the five dhyanas factors? It is the unification of the mind, that’s Samadhi. Boom, head on collision. (9:18) One of those is going to give. If they have a head on collision, either your Samadhi is going to fall apart, I think you have experienced that on occasion. Or, your fixation on hedonic pleasure is going to fall apart. But one of the two is going to fall apart because they cannot co-exist. So, get a good big Mac truck to drive into the VW of your hedonic fixation; a Mac truck of Samadhi to smash the little Ugo of attachment. Otherwise it will be the opposite - chugging up the hill, becoming road kill with all my attachments to samsara.
Sadly, Samadhi has become somewhat neglected in Buddhism with many teachers and students alike believing that just a dab will do, yet not achieving Samadhi breaks one of the bodhisattva vows.
(10:12)Samadhi, poor Samadhi. If Samadhi were a person I would feel a lot of sympathy, poor Samadhi especially in Buddhism. I mean in Hinduism, Samadhi, eh, if you are not interested in Samadhi you are not a good Hindu, you are not practicing yoga. I mean it is all about Samadhi, you can’t say I am following yoga tradition, real yoga, not just doing some asanas, without Samadhi. But Buddhism it is the second child, it’s the one in between you know? Samadhi, “shila”, Samadhi, prajña, you know prajña, prajña - that is the culmination, right?
And so in the Zen tradition even though the word Zen comes from “Chan” and “Chan” comes from dhyana and dhyana is what? Dhyana? Ah, nevertheless especially in the modern Zen tradition, samadhi, samadhi. Whether it’s in the Zen tradition, this modern vipashyana tradition with the poor emphasis on momentary Samadhi, or whether a lot of Nyingma teachers nowadays - eh Samadhi, a lot of Gelugpa teachers nowadays - eh Samadhi. I think there is something in common there, and I think I will give it a new name, I coined it this morning, it’s the Brylcreem approach to Samadhi. Now only Americans of my generation and Patrice being one of them will have a clue what I am talking about: the Brylcreem approach, the Brylcream back in the nineteen fifties. Patrice, do you remember the slogan for Brylcreem? Does anybody remember? I do: ‘ a little dab will do you’, a little dab is just like a little squirt, a little dab will do you, a little dab will be enough. The Brylcreem approach to Samadhi is: a little dab will do you. Awful of lot of Zen go for that.
(12:36) Oh, Who need shamatha and Samadhi we are practicing Zen. We are just sitting.
The Nyingma approach: who need Samadhi? We are Dzogchenpas.
Vajrayana; who needs Samadhi? We are practicing Stage of Generation and Completion.
Gelugpas: who need Samadhi? We practice Lamrim. But lamrim without shamatha vipashyana is foreplay with no union, of samadhi and of shamatha and vipashyana. It’s all foreplay. I mean what was all that drumroll about? The renunciation, the bodhichitta was for what? To go back to more renunciation and bodhichitta, or to finally have union of shamatha and vipashyana which is the grand culmination? It’s the flowering, it’s the fruit, and to say I am a lamrim practitioner, but oh no we don’t do shamatha because we just do discursive meditation, which means you are not a lamrim meditator. What did you learn? Forget how to read? When you got two thirds of the way through, settling your mind just went blurp like a dead fish on the sand?
Why do you call yourself a lamrim practitioner? Why do you call yourself a Gelugpa if you are not following the teachings of Tsongkhapa? There is a gold standard here it’s hard to find here in the modern world. So a little dab will do you whether you going belly up on the Pali Canon where the Buddha taught the dhyanas so frequently, never once mentioned momentary Samadhi let alone that that was sufficient. So you are abandoning the Pali Canon with that. Or how about the Mahayana, whether is Zen, whether is Chan, whether is all the four school of Buddhism that take the Brylcreem approach to Samadhi? Sorry, we really don’t need that you know, just go to Dzogchen, just go to lamrim, just go to Stage of Generation and Completion, oh, you do not worry about Samadhi you will achieve it in the Stage of Generation, good, how many of your students have done that? How long have you being teaching, how many of your students have achieved shamatha by way of Stage of Generation? Please line them up, I would really like to meet them. If it is only talk then what is the talk for? Is it dharma?
(14:45) So Mahayana teachers who take the Brylcreem approach to Samadhi are missing out something, they are not only missing out on something namely Samadhi, they are also missing out on something called “Shila”, it’s called ethics, it’s called Mahayana ethics, it’s called the forty six secondary precepts of the bodhisattva, and I will read a few of them.
If you break these you are breaking a precept which from the Mahayana perspective is more serious, heavier, karmically than breaking any of the Pratimoksha precepts. So what’s one of them?
How about another one:
Let’s take one more:
That was three out of forty six, that is a good percentage. Forsaking of the Shavrakayana, you know those Hinayana people, the Hinayana path: no, no we are beyond that we are practicing Dzogchen, no, no we are Vajrayana practitioners, we don’t need that shravika, that is for inferior people, not people like us.
That is three out of the forty six. Ignoring those and you still call yourself a Gelugpa? Bullshit! You call yourself a Nyingmapa? Bullshit!
Read a really wonderful text by Dudjom Rimpoche on the three sets of vows that includes Pratimoksha, Mahayana and Vajrayana. Do you think he skipped those because he is a Dzogchenpa. He is a Dzogchenpa. He is a real Dzogchenpa, not a bullshit Dzogchenpa, that just wants to say something popular. That’s really tragic. So how many people are just abandoning in Buddha dharma to find something they find easy, that is not so challenging, or that sells better?
So compassion for all those who call themselves Buddhist and yet sabotage the Buddha’s own teachings. Compassion, compassion for ourselves as we fall into the pit of attachment, clinging, craving and so forth, enjoying it.
Let’s practice compassion.
(18:10) Settle your body, speech and mind in its natural state and calm the conceptual turbulence of the mind for a little while with mindfulness of breathing.
(20:20) And now as we are venturing in the cultivation of compassion, without any sense of superiority, let’s attend first inwardly to the extent that we ourselves are subject to this mental affliction of craving, and attachment and review in your own life - is it true when we fall into that habitual pattern of craving and attachment - it invariable leads to suffering? Is it true or false? Let us not leave it at simply a religious belief.
(22:20) It may be awkward to say that we feel compassion for ourselves, but it is not at all awkward to arouse an aspiration to be free of the suffering of change, which is suffering because of the domination by mental affliction of attachment and craving. If you will arouse this aspiration with each inhalation - may I be free of that whole dimension of suffering that arises from attachment and craving, and may I be free of its underlying causes.
(23:30) And imagine if you will that dimension of suffering and its causes of craving, attachment as darkness veiling the pure and luminous nature of your own awareness, and with each inhalation, imagine drawing that darkness into the orb of light at your heart and imagine it dissolving there without a trace, with every in breath.
(26:45) And turn your attention outwards and call to mind if you will, someone or some group of individuals who you can see with your eyes of wisdom are suffering because of craving and attachment, whether or not they know it, whether or not the symptoms have manifested, they are right now subject to the suffering of change, and rather than having any sense of superiority or condescension, arouse the compassion aspiration: may you like myself, be free of this dimension of suffering, free of its causes of attachment, and may be all apply ourselves diligently, enthusiastically to the remedy, the cultivation of Samadhi with all the richness of that term, may we be free.
(29:30) Breath by breath imagine each one becoming free, as you let your attention rove from one person to another, a group of people to another, one realm of existence to another.
(39:56) Release all appearances and aspirations and let your awareness rest in its own nature.
Summary made by SB Institute Staff:
The 20th century has been the worst era for Buddhism. Communism dealt a nearly lethal blow to Buddhism in several Asian countries. Some teachers say that the times are so degenerate that one should not even try to gain any realizations. Such an attitude would finish off buddhadharma. The Dalai Lama supports the creation of a contemplative observatory in Bangalore open to contemplatives of various traditions and scientists alike with the aspiration to revitalize the contemplative traditions of the world, so that each one can rediscover its own treasures.
(40:52) The 20th century was the worst century in the whole history of Buddhism. It is a historical fact. It started in 1930’s in Mongolia, that is where the first symptoms started to show up, where something like 12 hundred monasteries, tens of thousands of monks killed, monasteries demolished, crushed, by the Stalinists who had taken over Mongolia. Killed maybe 30,000 monks. Just shot them. That was just the opening salvo to the Holocaust that has hit Buddhism throughout Asia, and is still continuing, thanks to the policies of the Chinese Communist government. In China as well as in Tibet. Not only Tibet. In Russia also, North Korea, wherever communism spread, it was the Nazis to the Jews, it was to Buddhism and all forms of dharma, one final solution. Wipe it out. You think something is poison, Mao told His Holiness the Dalai Lama that religion is poison. What do you do with poison? Eradicate it until it is gone. So it was an awful century.
And we are tremendously fortunate that there are qualified scholars and contemplatives practitioners, from these different traditions. From Mongolia, South East Asia, from Korea, from Tibet, who survived the holocaust. So we are tremendously fortunate. But it is almost as if Buddhism was dealt what might be, a lethal blow, a lethal blow. That is pretty savage. It looks like it could go either way. It could either perish, or with a lot of emergency care, it could survive. It could get robust again. It could happen. But those Buddhist teachers who that say that - the time of realization is over, that there is no point in trying to practice Samantha, you won’t achieve it, that there is no point in trying to really realize emptiness, you won’t do it, these are really degenerate times folks, and the most you can hope for now is well, study well, be ethical but don’t really get your hopes up because these are really degenerate times, you won’t be able to achieve the path even if you try - they are finishing off what the communists started. They are just letting the patient die. So if the heart is trembling, we don’t just watch it die, if the heart even stops, we don’t just watch, maybe a little bit of shock therapy, we don’t give up on it until it is decomposing. Buddhism is shila, Samadhi, prajna, Buddhism is the six perfections, all six, that includes the 5th one, which is Dhyana. Vajrayana includes stage of generation and completion, all the four schools of Tantra, there is Mahamudra there is Dzogchen.
So, I think these are really critical times, as for a critical patient you can go either way. But those that say don’t even try? Thanks for nothing. You have given up on the patient before the patient is even dead. You are not a healer. You are a casual bystander. So let’s really preserve dharma by practicing it.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama, when he proposed this center for the practice of Shamatha and Vipashyana, not only for the practice but for achieving of Shamatha and Vipashyana, near Bangalore, but inviting practitioners of Shamatha and Vipashyana from all the contemplative traditions of the world – if you are intent on that, refining your attention, developing Samadhi, by whatever name, we are not going to call it Samadhi if you are a Sufi a Taoist and so forth, no problem, we are not going to quibble over terms here; but if you have that type of technology to really refine the mind and then use that refined mind to explore the nature of reality, welcome! Come on in! You scientists come on in, let’s join this all collaboratively, to explore our inner resources, to fathom the nature of consciousness, that is a celebration. He would never say that if he thought that this was just going to be one big fiasco.
So, let’s practice. Refresh life. His Holiness, when I spoke with him just a few weeks ago, he didn’t quite use the word ‘renaissance’, but that is exactly what he meant, to revitalize, to bring fresh life into, that’s what he said. His motivation to bring fresh life into, not only Buddhism, but the contemplative traditions of the world. So it is not just something we just read about – the great saints, the great siddhas, and so forth and so on of the past, the further they get away the more they look like fairytales, the closer they are it looks like some of the most sublime science that human beings have ever explored. But a renaissance, a renaissance of Buddhism itself, a renaissance of all contemplative traditions, which means a renaissance of all the great religious traditions of the world so that each one can rediscover its own treasures, so not trying to corral them. You know His Holiness, he is never an evangelist, he has tried to dissuade Westerners from becoming Buddhist, - stay with your own tradition, if you really want to, them okay, otherwise stay home - boy that’s anti-evangelism. I think he must be the least sectarian man on the planet. And yet his passionate devotion, his faith, his reverence for his own tradition, coupled with deep respect as he meets with Muslim leaders, Christian and Jewish and scientists who are Atheists and materialists, and treats them all with respect. Looking for the common ground. So - Renaissance.
So the people who are abiding by, adhering to, holding to, their own doctrines, Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Toaist, whatever it may be, and their institutions – good, go for it. And they are very different, there is no question about that, even Theravada Buddhism to Varjrayana Buddhism, they are very different, so no problem.
Where is the common ground? Gosh that would transform everything. From my limited perspective I see two large looming issues on our horizon right now. One is that now that we are just forced to live together, which for a long time wasn’t true, but now in terms of this global village where Muslims have to encounter Christians, Christians have to encounter Jews, Jews have to encounter Buddhists, Buddhists have to encounter Hindus, and Atheists and Materialists and so on an so forth, we are all in the same soup now. We can’t ignore each other, it’s just not possible. We could for a long time, now we can’t. Thank you airplanes, thank you internet, thank you telephones and all of that transportation, communication. So what do we do when the differences are so obvious, in our face, really obvious, and they are real, and they are not going to go away? His Holiness is not trying to make them go away, not trying to smoosh all the world’s religions into one big smooze, that doesn’t make any sense and nobody is going to do it. It is a ridiculous idea. But the differences are so obvious, in the midst of all of those is there an area of convergence, an area where we can really learn from each other all by way of experience, by sharing experience? This could really be spectacular.
So there is one area. What do we do about the diversity of religions in the world with people so passionately, existentially committed to their own traditions? Which very often leads to contempt, hostility and then warfare, militancy, violence against everyone who is outside? Happened everywhere, including Buddhist countries. I wish we could say we were free, not true.
Then the other one is tradition and modernity, science and spirituality. We can’t ignore each other. I think the Atheists were kind of playing this like a waiting game - all religions are so stupid they will just die off. No, Marx died off. Marxism is dying off, bye, bye blackbird. Lots of luck. So the Atheist materialism, oh we just give them enough time, religion will die off – not in your life time baby. Not happening. So live with it. This is part of reality why not study it rather than hoping it will go away? Live with reality, it is not going away. The reality is that religions of the world are strong, they are there, they are not going away. So what do you do about science and religion, generally? Very different. Different methodology, different beliefs and so forth. Is there any common ground where they can actually work together? Rather than just fighting to the death, the creationists against the atheists, this fundamentalist group against that one, and so forth and so on. Terrible history. And so boring. What’s more boring than a hard core, militant Darwinist with a hard core, militant creationist? Like dumb and dumber. Really. I don’t know why they haven’t bored themselves to death.
But there again, His Holiness gives this one symbol, this center envisioned for Bangalore, invite the scientists, whatever your world view, be agnostic, and atheist a materialist, a Hindu, a Jane, a Buddhist, whatever you may become , let’s look at that experience and find that common ground so that the contemplative traditions of the world can enrich science and science can enrich, sharpen up, bring integrity, precision, sophistication to evaluating and understanding contemplative experience.
So, if you regard yourself as a follower of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, there is something really like a north star that he has presented to you. Something really healing, nobody is left on the outside, except people who say no, no, I am holding to my dogma, I don’t care about the facts. Ok, well we have invited you, you don’t want to come to the party, if you are not interested that is okay, we are not going to fight you, there it is.
Enjoy your day, let’s practice.
Transcribed by Rafael Carlos Giusti
Revised by Cheri Langston.
Final edition by Rafael Carlos Giusti
Posted by Alma Ayon