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Shenpen.Rinpoche

True Happiness

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On FaceBook forum "Tibetan Buddhism", I posted the "six words of advice", of Tilopa.

 

Don’t recall - Let go of what has passed

Don’t imagine - Let go of what may come

Don’t think - Let go of what is happening now

Don’t examine - Don’t try to figure anything out

Don’t control - Don’t try to make anything happen

Rest - Relax, right now, and rest

 

When followed the below discussion:

www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2245495038#/topic.php?uid=2245495038&topic=9091

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James:

It honestly seems to me that to successfully follow those precepts would be to turn oneself into a lifeless vegetable.

 

I cannot imagine why anyone would want to live a life like that. There seems to be no room in those precepts for ecstasy, for grand accomplishments, or even for hope.

 

Perhaps that is the collective mindset that resulted in Tibet being attacked and occupied by the Chinese.

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Lama Shenpen Rinpoche:

1. Not following these words turns you in a lifeless puppet, manipulated by old patterns and disturbed emotions, not even aware of it.

 

2. You can't imagine because you don't understand. Yet. You need to find the right teacher to explain them to you correctly.

The quality of life acquired when you apply these advises and free your mind from useless influences gives you a space incomparable with any "room" you will ever find in your life.

A pacified and clear mind can experience a bliss result of highest spiritual accomplishment.

Hope has no place if you don't get back full responsibility and understanding of your existence, and free your mind from old patterns. If you do so, not only hope but Enlightenment is possible.

 

3. Tilopa was Bengali (ie. nothing to do with Tibet). What's about the mindset in your country ;) The words of the Buddha do apply without distinction of place or race, as long as one put the right effort to understand them.

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James :

Thank you for taking the time to reply to my post. I have found that by getting deeply in touch with what is truly in my heart and following that, I am able to get in rhythm with the things in life that are truly the most fulfilling and rewarding for me. I have found that following one's heart is the quickest and surest way to cease being controlled by "old patterns and disturbed emotions."

 

For twenty-five years I was an ardently practicing member of the Soka Gakkai sect of Buddhism, and during that time I had some really great teachers. I was a teacher myself. I quit practicing about fifteen years ago, but I still adhere to the Buddhist worldview.

 

One of the main concepts of the Soka Gakkai sect was using the Buddhist practice for becoming as happy and as successful in life that one wished to be. And we had no commandments or rules for that. The only way to be truly happy is to follow what is in one's heart, and no one can decide for anyone else what is truly in one's heart.

 

The Buddhism that I practiced was all about being joyful and fulfilled. We had a saying: "Earthly desires are equal to Enlightenment." This is because using the Buddhist practice to pursue one's desires leads to Enlightenment. To put it another way, the only guaranteed way to make one's wishes come true is to earnestly practice Buddhism.

 

Being happy and free means getting in touch with one's inner desires and pursuing them, not in trying to pretend that one does not have any desires in the first place.

 

With respect.

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Lama Shenpen Rinpoche:

I won't enter in details about what I think about Soka Gakkai; just that I don't recognise it at all as any true lineage or school of Buddhism. But I won't argue on that here. I have no time for. And we are here in a forum about "Tibetan Buddhism"...

 

It seems to me that you are opposing the traditional practice of Buddhism with happiness. This is a common mistake, but it is far from reality.

Happiness is the goal of Buddhism; and it's not only the goal, it's also the Path. But you are to differentiate between true happiness (coming from Peace of mind and correct understanding of the nature of phenomena) and attachment to pleasures of senses.

 

If since times your mind couldn't understand you are not yet an Enlightened being, it is because you haven't been following the right Path; though, you surely have given into all kind of pleasures of senses, attachments of all sorts, following no rules and no correct teachings.

Because indeed, there are correct teachings and not correct ones, in the sense of some helping to progress on the spiritual path toward Enlightenment, and some simply not.

 

What we tend to call "one's heart", or "one's intuition" is usually referring to blind and disturbed emotions. Blinded by all kinds of patterns from the pas, emotional disturbances, etc... So, not sure that we can follow that. Can a blind guides another blind?

If you pursue your desires, I can tell you for sure that you won't reach Enlightenment at all. First, "pursue" is a sign of attachment, grasping to phenomena, because of not understand their absence of self-inherent existence. Second "pursued desires" only generate more desires, which does nothing else than nourish the law of karma, binding us more and more with samsaric experiences of suffering.

"Earthly desires" are equal to cause of suffering. Asserting the opposite is the teaching promoted by Satanist, not by the Buddha.

 

Tibetan Buddhism is mainly Vajrayana, Tantra. So, the point in Vajrayana is not to expel desires, but to transform them, use the energy support of these desires for inner spiritual alchemy. We are here very far from the "lifeless vegetables" you refer to, but at the contrary in front of very powerful minds, able to cut through Ignorance, wash away past accumulated negative karma, and rid the wildest elephant on the Path toward complete Enlightenment.

 

You shall notice that I didn't mention to "follow desires", not more than I'd have said "deny desires." Buddha's Path is the Middle Way, away from extremes. One has to be fully aware and 'in charge' of what is happening in one's own mind in order to do not follow the tricks of the ego trying to pull us towards extremes. Buddhism provides all necessary methods to achieve this pacification and control of our mind. Control is not here equal with suppression or repression, but with suppleness ie. the ability to place the mind on a chosen topic for the wished amount of time without to be distracted.

 

The problem is not with "pleasure" in itself. You have created a positive karma, you get back a pleasant experience. Dot. No problem. You can enjoy the pleasure you have created the causes for. The root of suffering lies in the subsequent moment of pleasurable experience: attachment! Unaware and uncontrolled mind will very quickly develop attachments towards pleasures, and this is what causes all our suffering. These attachments are causing karmas you will have to experience in the future. And generating all kinds of negative projections in order to achieve the goal of experiencing more and more earthly pleasures creates negative karma, roots of suffering.

 

True happiness comes from putting an end to the law of cause and effect by realizing the true nature of phenomena ie. lack of self-inherent existence, therefore recognition of the illusory aspect of these phenomena, and consequently no attachment to any phenomena.

 

And you can see the Great Teachers of Tibetan Buddhism are often laughing quite a lot :)

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James:

Please feel free to tell me what you think about the Soka Gakkai sect of Buddhism. As you probably know, it is based entirely on the Lotus Sutra of Shakyamuni Buddha. I practiced that form of Buddhism for twenty-five years, and I achieved many miraculous benefits in my life as a result. And so have millions of others. The reason I quit practicing was because the effects of the practice waned and dissipated in my life, until finally there was no longer any benefit to the practice at all. Since that time, I have been thrashing about looking for other ways to open the doors of the Universe.

 

I understand that I am not an enlightened being, but I also understand that I have the capacity or potential for becoming an enlightened being. All living beings possess the Buddha-nature within. The key is to activate one's Buddha-nature within and make it manifest in one's daily life.

 

Since you do not know me and have never met me, you do not have any basis for determining which of my emotions are disturbed and which are not. Would you not agree? You have no way of knowing what I am blinded to and what I am not blinded to.

 

You seem unwilling to give me the benefit of the doubt.

 

On the other hand, my sense of curiosity about things has led me to start looking into Tibetan Buddhism, which I am now doing. I am giving it the benefit of the doubt. Could you not show me the same respect?

 

My eyes are open to many things, and I am willing to learn from anyone. To be willing to learn from even a beggar is what the Buddha taught. Even though I no longer consider myself to be a practicing Buddhist, I still take that encouragement to heart.

 

I do not consider you a Satanist because we do not see eye to eye. Isn't calling people names like that a way of closing your eyes to them? Isn't that a way of making yourself blind?

 

In my sect of Buddhism, we defined the Middle Way as being all-encompasing. It did not mean the midpoint between extremes. For example, if you had the choice, wouldn't you prefer to breathe air that is totally without pollution, or would you prefer to breathe air that is about half polluted and half clean? Would you prefer to eat food that had a moderate amount of lead poisoning in it, or wouldn't you prefer food that is completely free of lead poisoning? In terms of your physical health, would you prefer to be totally healthy, or only half healthy and half sick?

 

In reality, some things are worth embracing entirely , and some things should be avoided entirely. Would you not agree with that?

 

Suffering lies in not getting in harmony with what is fulfilling and rewarding for oneself. Getting in touch with one's true desires is no easy matter and cannot be done overnight. Most people never do it. Most people never even come close. As far as I am concerned, I can say that I am definitely making some headway, although it always seems a bit too incremental to me.

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Lama Shenphen Rinpoche:

Sorry if my words did hurt you in any way, such wasn't my intention.

 

The source used by Soka Gakkai related to the Lotus Sutra, and the way it interprets it, have been largely discussed in other places, other times. It's irrelevant here.

 

"You have no way of knowing what I am blinded to and what I am not blinded to. "

- Are you sure about that?

 

"Could you not show me the same respect?"

- I have for you the same respect as I have for all sentient being.

 

"because we do not see eye to eye."

- Time and space are mere concepts. My eyes are closer to yours than you would ever imagine.

 

Your view about middle-way is not the one taught by the Buddha and His followers. All-compassing is something else. And the examples brought forward have nothing to do with middle-way (ie. what is the matter of half healthy or half sick?).

The middle-way ('Madhyamika' in sanskri, 'uma' in Tibetan) is a school of thought - based on the Prajnaparamita sutra - standing between the extreme of nihilism and eternalism, to explain the way phenomena are void of self-inherent existence, arising by dependant origination.

 

"Getting in touch with one's true desires"

- What would that mean?! Is there any true and false desires? I see only "desires" of various intensities. And all desires, as they are, lead to suffering because they are leading to attachments, projections, expectations.

The Vajrayana way is to become aware of our energies - from the ones circulating within our nervous system to the ones carrying our thoughts - when they arise along with desires, and to apply our understanding of Emptiness on the objects of desires, so to remain with an energy which can be used for the inner alchemy of transformation.

 

If you are still searching to get in touch with your desires and getting in harmony with what is fulfilling and rewarding for yourself, indeed, you are not a practicing Buddhist. For, in truth, searching to fulfil a non-inherently existing "self" is like trying to catch the moon running after its reflection in water.

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