Enlightened Courage

The following article is from the Winter, 1994 issue of the Snow Lion Newsletter and is for historical reference only. You can see this in context of the original newsletter here.

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by H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

120 pp. $12.95

Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche's remarkable life came to an end in 1991. He was one of the foremost teachers and meditation masters of the Mahayana, Mahamndra and Great Perfection traditions. In this, his last teaching in the West, he presents the Seven Point Mind Training which is the very core of the entire practice of Tibetan Buddhism. Here is an excerpt:

If we have instructions on how to carry obstacles onto the path, then no matter how many difficulties and conflicting situations come upon us, they will simply clarify our practice and have no power to hinder us on the path. If, however, we do not have such instructions, then difficulties will be experienced as hindrances.

In these degenerate times, as far as the outer universe is concerned, the rains and snows do not come when they should, harvests are poor, the cattle are unhealthy and people and animals are riddled with disease. Because people spend their time in evil activities, because they are jealous and constantly wish misfortune on one another, many countries are at variance and in desperate circumstances. We are in the era when even the teachings of religion are perverted so that famine, disease and war are rife. But, when a forest is on fire, a gale will only make it bigger, it certainly will not blow it out. Likewise, for a Bodhisattva who has received instruction, all such catastrophic situations may be profitably taken onto the path.

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All suffering comes through not recognising ego-clinging as our enemy. When we are hit by a stick or a stone, it hurts; when someone calls us a thief or a liar, we become angry. Why is this? It is because we feel great esteem and attachment for what we think of as our selves, and we think I am being attacked. Clinging to the I is the real obstacle to the attainment of liberation and enlightenment. What we call obstacle-makers or evil influences, such as ghosts, gods, and so on, are not at all entities outside us. It is from within that the trouble comes. It is due to our fixation on I that we think: I am so unhappy, I can'tget anything to eat, I have no clothes, lost of people are against me and I don't have any friends. It is thoughts like these that keep us so busyand all so uselessly! This is the reason why we are not on the path to liberation and Buddhahood. Throughout the entire succession of our lives, from beginningless time until the present, we have been taking birth in one or another of the six realms. How long we have been labouring in the three worlds of samsara, slaves to our ego-clinging! This is why we cannot escape. When a man has borrowed a lot of money, he will never have a moment's peace until he has repaid his debt. So it is with all the work that our ego-clinging has given us to do; it has left negative imprints on the alaya similar to promissory notes. When our karma fructifies and payment is demanded, we have no chance for happiness and enjoyment. All this is because, as it says in the teachings, we do not recogni2e ego-clinging as our real enemy.

It is also because we do not recognise the great kindness of beings. It was said by Buddha Shakyamuni that to work for beings with kindness and compassion, and to make offerings to the Buddhas are of equal value for the attainment of enlightenment. Therefore to be generous to others, to free them from suffering and set them on the path of liberation is as good as making offerings to the Buddhas. We may think that it is better to give to a temple, or place offerings before an image of the Buddha. In fact, because the Buddhas are completely free from self cherishing, the more we can help beings, the happier they are. When the hordes of demons tried to obstruct the Buddha as he was on the point of attaining enlightenment, sending their armies and hurling their weapons, he meditated on kindness towards them, turning their weapons into flowers, and their curses and war cries into praises and mantras. Other beings are in fact the best occasions for the accumulation of merit.

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In short, all suffering comes from the enemy of our own egoclinging; all benefit derives from other beings, who are therefore like friends and relatives. We should try to help them as much as possible. As Langri Tangpa Dorje Gyaltsen said, Of all the profound teachings I have read, this only have I understood: that all harm and sorrow are my own doing and all benefit and qualities are thanks to others. Therefore all my gain I give to others; all loss I take upon myself. He perceived this as the sole meaning of all the texts that he had studied, meditating upon it throughout his life.

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