On the second and third days of teaching HH Karmapa emphasized the necessity to really transform the mind with our Buddhist practice. The following is paraphrased from my notes:
We cannot transform the mind by going at it with a hammer and pick. We need to take an antidote to negative emotions. Through listening and reflecting we can understand the nature of mind. Through the wisdom of meditation we can uproot negative emotions. All the teachings of the dharma is to work on negative emotions. If the target is in the east and you shoot the gun in the west it won’t work. All positive deeds of body and speech have a strong connection with the mind. Looking at the mind is very important. If we listen to our negative voice then we are in bad company. We have to give ourselves the gift of a good future. If we don’t practice dharma but just show the outer form, we remain like a painted lamp and cannot light the darkness.
The Lama as friend: The Lama should be seen as a good friend, someone you can trust. Before you even know he is your teacher he has to be seen as a trustworthy friend.
On ritual practice and worship: The worship of deities has some benefit to protect the environment but the point is to train your mind. You will not be freed from obstacles unless you work on yourself. Buddha said you are your own protector, you are your own saviour..
On the sangha and harmony: If we split the sangha there is no positive growth, like if the earth is split. If the sangha is in harmony the dharma will live long.
Even if you do only one small practice, that is good. Please take this into your heart.
As he prepared us to take the bodhisattva vows he gave a powerful teaching on great compassion.
Drukpa Kunley said it was more profound to meditate on the sentient beings of the 6 realms than all the buddhas.
Is the world permanent or impermanent, the Buddha was asked. He didn’t answer. He said, if you are a hunter and another hunter hits you with a poisonous arrow, would you go into detailed information by asking questions about the arrow, or would you just try to get the arrow out?
We have to know how to free ourselves from suffering. Great compassion is very strong armour.
With compassion our focus is on sentient beings; with wisdom our focus is on enlightenment. If you have both, you have bodhicitta.
The cause of enlightenment is compassion. If you have great compassion you become one with the people you’re helping.
The main vow of aspirational bodhicitta is not to give up on sentient beings. The four negative karmas are deceiving the Lama and Sangha; causing someone to regret a positive deed; criticizing a bodhisattva; causing harm to another. Not giving up on sentient beings includes animals and insects, for example, killing animals. Rejoicing in negativity is also bad. If you rejoice that someone is killed, that is also breaking the vow of not killing.
Someone asked Mikyo Dorje what do you have to do to be the Karmapa and he replied, even to be a dog reborn around the Karmapa shows incredible merit.
Even if we cannot help beings at least we should not harm them.
The most important thing in getting enlightened is not to get angry, not to get disturbed. ‘When I came to India I became quite short tempered.’
Then he told the story of the Buddha Mitrugpa and how he became enlightened by taking a vow never to get angry. The Dalai Lama said we have to bring peace through non-violence. To pacify our mind, that’s dharma.
The Karmapa made a deeply moving reference to his human condition, as he often does, and how it affects him. It is never self pitying but so sharp and pure, it draws people closer to his heart.
In my youth I used to laugh a lot. When I grew up I didn’t laugh, just laughing from the outside. Sorry but I can’t pretend. Laughing is easy but it’s difficult for me because I’m not used to it. When I left Tibet some people said I came to get the Black Hat but I wouldn’t exchange my life for the Hat. I needed to get the teachings. I had no choice but to run away by foot. If I have to take a few steps towards India and then I die, it’s also okay. We all come to this sacred and auspicious place. If all of us come together and make a strong prayer there is nothing which cannot be accomplished.