by Naomi Levine
On the last of the teaching His Holiness covered the main points of the Lineage Prayer in terms of foot or foundation of meditation, the head of meditation, and the body of meditation.
The word ‘shenlok’ in Tibetan means detachment, aversion or disgust. It’s like when you walk on the street and you step on some shit. That’s it. It is said that if you have attachment to this life, you are not a true dharma practitioner. Attachment to self is not bodhicitta; clinging is not the right view.
A lion will not run after grass nor will meat appeal to a deer but this is not really non-attachment.
At the beginner level of non-attachment we see no use in being attached to this life; at a more advanced level we are disgusted with samsara; and at a very advanced level we are not even attached to peace.
The practice of dharma is not only for this life but for the benefit of the long term. We need to have a vision for our future lives. We need to prioritize. The most important thing is whether something will bring us benefit in the long term. Many people come to the Monlam, especially monks and nuns. They look like sangha members but sometimes they just come for the tea and offerings. If so, that is not meaningful. We come here to pray for world peace.
Non- attachment means understanding that material gain is not lasting happiness. If we don’t have renunciation to samsara, we will not be able to attain true enlightenment. If one does have disgust for samsara, the meditation will take you there. The foot of meditation has to be a strong one.
A student of Gotsangpa was in retreat making the water offering to Dzamballa, the protector of wealth, when large water bubbles appeared. Out of them came the protector Dzamballa who said he would give him whatever he wanted. ‘I don’t need anything’ said Yungtonpa, ‘Give it to the beggars.’ He then stopped making the water offering.
Tutop Urgyenpa, a student of Karma Pakshi, went twice to India. In Bodh Gaya he had a vision of Ganesha who offered to be his protector and promised to make him the owner of two thirds of the world, if he would make offerings to him and remain for 3 years in Bodh Gaya. Urgyenpa said, ‘I cannot make offerings of meat and blood and I do not need a protector. Even if you give me two thirds of the world, what shall I do with it? I am just a monk.’
A rich person and a poor person were neighbours. The rich person was working hard looking after his money but the poor person was singing when he came home. The rich man put a big lump of gold at his neighbour’s place to see what would happen. The poor man found it and thought the Buddha had given it to him. Then he was preoccupied with the thought of making investments. That night he forgot to sing. The rich man realised gold was a cause of unhappiness.
In the process of gathering wealth we lose our perspective. We should not become a slave to wealth thereby losing our happiness.
Guru Yoga is the heart of the practice of dharma. In all the sutras and tantras, devotion is described as the medicine for all diseases.
The Tibetan word is MuGu
Mu is inspiration or longing. Gu is respect expressed through actions that follow the mind of longing or inspiration. The best example is Milarepa.
We need to rejoice in the positive qualities of others, even if there is only one. We need to develop it step by step. We have to project the positive side on whatever positive qualities there are. We want to breathe in the positive qualities of the Lama. If we look for faults we will see faults.
Mogu (devotion) means trying to inculcate all the positive qualities of the Lama’s body, speech and mind in ourselves. Mogu alone is enough to attain enlightenment.
The great masters of the past have undergone all the hardships; all we need to do is develop inspiration, aspiration and determination. Milarepa said ‘I have gone through all the hardships so that future generations would not have any problems’. We have to put what is written into our hearts and make it a living experience.
The body of the practice is non-distraction.
Without shamata there is no advancement on the path. Stability of mind determines how one progresses. Without stability there is no path. It is very difficult to cultivate in this disturbed age. Some people say it is better to recite mantras.
There are two ways of cultivating shamata: Go to a quiet place and meditate there. And don’t go to a special place.
Mindfulness is the guardian, the most important part of meditation.
Be aware of your mind. Let it be relaxed. If an emotion arises don’t focus on the object, look at the subject – the emotional mind – and be mindful of it, relax into it. Then you see the arising with freshness.
If you look at the emotion or thought and remain there, your mindfulness will remain and negative emotion will decrease. Awareness itself is what we should be aware of, not looking at the thought after it has happened.
The essence of our mind is emptiness. This is called dharmakaya.
Looking at the nature of our thoughts, there are two aspects to emotion: clarity which is knowingness, and klesa, the negative pattern. Clarity is continuous and never goes away. Klesa has to be eliminated but it’s like polluted water; we cannot throw it all away. With the analogy of the sea and waves, we have to see that the waves are inseparable from the sea.
The nature of mind is clear light. Clarity and awareness are inseparable.
The result is loving kindness. How much you want to work for others is the result of practice. Although not totally unconcerned about your own welfare, you remember the welfare of others as well. This is the result of your meditation.
…the nature of thoughts is dharmakaya;
Nothing whatsoever, yet it arises as everything.
Please grant your blessing to this meditator,
So that samsara and nirvana are realised as inseparable.