Monday, March 21, 2011

Enlightenment is a Possibility (成佛是可能的)

H.H Dilgo Kyentse Rinpoche was a great King of Dharma in the Nyingma, who was a highly realized and accomplished practitioner. He was also a prolific writer who wrote many books about “Bodhichitta”. “Bodhichitta” is no different from the mind-training that I often shared with you. We possess an innate Buddha Nature but most of us are unable to recognize it due to our karmic obscuration. It is liken to a piece of jade that is still covered by a layer of rock externally that you must keep polishing it until the hidden gem is revealed. However the process revelation is a very tough one. That explains why there had been many practitioners in the past but few had attained enlightenment. It is very difficult to remove that outer layer of rock. Nonetheless, you must continue to do so. If you do not move upward, you will only go downward and perpetually stranded in the cyclic existence (samsara). If you go forward with courage, you will succeed one day because we have the equal potential of attaining a full enlightenment of a Buddha.

In a nutshell, we must aspire to Bodhichitta - aiming only to benefit others and avoid being carried away by our inner sense of hatred. Guard our mind very carefully – it is important not to be carried away by our inner thoughts that appear one after another incessantly because you will not be able to turn back after going too far off. We must always be mindful that a practitioner must behave differently from one who is not. No matter what we do, we must always do so with the intent to “help others and bring happiness to others.”

Let me give you an example - a lady called me while I was away, in Taiwan. She wanted to come to my house to fix the water pipe problem. I told her to call again after I returned to Singapore - she called two days later. I told her what she needed to do with my water pipe, in just a few sentences. Before she hung up, she told me, “Gee, you are just different from others!” I asked her why? She said, “I only spoke to you briefly but I feel exhilarated! I wonder why? I just feel happy and enjoy the conversations with you. I feel happy and joyful!” Actually, she would have used the phrase “spiritual joy” had she known it.

This is the positive result of a good practice – one can bring happiness to others naturally. Of course, the premise is that you must be a happy person in the first place. If you are full of negative emotions, feeling unhappy all day, being argumentative and always want to be the one winning, you will not be able to bring happiness to others. On the contrary, you will tend to only force others into a corner. So, we must first tame our own mind, after which our inner sense of compassion will naturally manifest outward in many ways that your speech will make others feel happy, and others will feel happy by merely meeting you. At that point in time, you will be able to help the numerous sentient beings; no matter where you go, you will be able to help many sentient beings whom you meet; you will somehow look different from others and will be able to bring happiness to others. You could even reach the level of attainment where rainbows will appear in the sky wherever you go, and even animals and plants could interact with you - that is an inconceivable state of enlightenment.

It is not easy to reach that state of enlightenment. It is also not easy for us to tame our own mind. We have committed too much negative karma since time immemorial and we have inculcated very strong negative propensities in ourselves that they will take a long time to be purified. Only when our karmic obscuration has been fully eradicated, we can free ourselves from the cyclic existence. You should practice gradually and change yourselves gradually. One day, though it may not happen in the present lifetime, you will still make it in your next life, or maybe ten, one hundred, one thousand or ten thousands lifetimes later. When you finally attain enlightenment, it will be a very different situation altogether - you will then see a beautiful world around you!

We will not go the extreme ways. As the Buddha said, “Buddha Nature is an innate state of being in all sentient beings”. The Zen Patriarchs said, “I am a Buddha!” However, do not misunderstand these words and think that you are already a Buddha! It is useless to claim that you are a Buddha when you are not able to demonstrate the state of enlightenment and the true quality of a Buddha, yet. You will fail the tests in the face of adversities and end up losing your temper, transgressing the precepts, being over powered by your own lust, hatred and ignorance. So what if you know that you are essentially a Buddha when you have not truly attained the true state of enlightenment of a Buddha!

Neither should we over belittle ourselves, thinking that our karmic obscuration is too great that we will never attain the state of Buddhahood - that will just give you an excuse to continue falling. We should not go to the two extremes but should walk a middle path instead. We should have faith in in the attainment of Buddhahood eventually. Although we may not be able to make it in the present lifetime, one day we will make it! We should turn towards enlightenment, but not the opposite. We should say goodbye to our negative emotions, confrontational attitudes, dissatisfactions and the rest of the negativities. We should turn toward the positive aspect of life such as being more objective, compassionate and virtuous; one day, we will make it! We should have faith in the path to enlightenment.

A teaching given by Acho Rinpoche on 22-9-2010