Within our own buddha nature we naturally have all the qualities of nirvana, so we do not need to look for them and take possession of them outside. Neither do we need to get rid of anything, because the obscurations that are temporarily veiling our realization of the absolute nature are not inherent to that absolute nature. So with this third wisdom, doubts are completely absent: there is no wondering, “Will I be able to achieve all those qualities?” or “Will I succeed in getting rid of all these defects?”
When we examine anger and aversion with awareness, there is a radical shift of identity. These states are not who we really are. They are conditioned and impersonal, and they do not belong to us. It is scary to us and to those with whom we are locked in conflict when we release our blame. Sometimes our partners are confused when we step out of the dance of anger. They too will be required to change. In letting go of contention we return to our true strength and nobility. In our hardships, we discover the courage not to succumb, not to retreat, not to strike out in fear and anger. And by resting in a non-contentious heart we become a lamp, a medicine, a strong presence; we become the healing the world so dearly needs.
When we first hear about emptiness, we feel a little frightened. But after practicing for a while, we see that things do exist, only in a different way than we’d thought. Emptiness is the Middle Way between existent and nonexistent. The beautiful flower does not become empty when it fades and dies. It is already empty, in its essence. Looking deeply, we see that the flower is made of non-flower elements — light, space, clouds, earth, and consciousness. It is empty of a separate, independent self. In the Diamond Sutra, we are taught that a human being is not independent of other species, so to protect humans, we have to protect the non-human species. If we pollute the water and air, the vegetables and minerals, we destroy ourselves. We have to learn to see ourselves in things that we thought were outside of ourselves in order to dissolve false boundaries.
What is important to understand is that the view you have of yourself and the view you have of your environment are based on your own mind: they are a projection of your mind and that is why they are not reality.
I will give you a good example. When a French man or woman looks for a girl or boyfriend, there is this research energy from both sides and when suddenly they see each other they make up an incredible story. ‘Oh, so beautiful! Nothing wrong inside or outside.’ They build up a perfect myth. They push and push, the mind makes it all up. If they are Christian they say, ‘Oh, he looks just like Jesus.’ Or ‘She looks just like and angel. She is so nice, so pure. I wish always to hear her!’ Actually, they are just projecting their own fantasies onto each other.
If she is Hindu, then he would say, ‘Oh she looks like Kali, like Mother Earth, like my universal mother. I hope to always be near her. She will teach me who I am and where I am going. Each time I see her, my whole body shakes. I am sure that it must be incredible karma! And because it is our karma I have to serve her, to accept!’ You understand? Actually, you are making the karma at that moment, you are inventing it. Of course, you do have some connection, but….
And if you are Buddhist you fold your hands and say, ‘Oh, she is a dakini and she is showing me the true nature of all thing.’ You understand? ‘When I am near her she gives me energy, energy. Before, I was so lazy, I couldn’t move, I was like a dead person. But now whenever I go near her I can’t believe my energy!’ I tell you, all this is superstitious interpretation. You think that she is your spiritual friend and that before you were not so clear and that now she speaks to you about dharma and everything becomes clearer. And all she does is really perfect, even her kaka and pipi are so pure! Excuse me, perhaps i shouldn’t talk like this — I’m a Buddhist monk! But when we speak about Buddhism, about reality, then we have to speak practically from daily life, about what is earthy, what we can touch and see, not just get caught up in concepts.
What I mean is this: you should recognize how every appearance in our daily life is in fact a false projection of your own mind. Your own mind makes it up and becomes an obstacle to touching reality. This is why, our entire life, no matter what kind of life we have, it is a disaster. If you have a rich life, your life is a disaster. If you have a middle class life, your life is a disaster. Of you have a poor life, your life is even more of a disaster! You become a monk and your life is a disaster. You become a nun and your life is a disaster. If you become a Christian, your life is a disaster. If you become a Hindu, your life is a disaster. If you become a a Buddhist, your life is a disaster. If you become a Muslim, your life is also a disaster.
Be honest. Be honest with yourself!
Even if you go to a cave, disaster! You can stay in a mountain cave, in the snowy mountains, and still you carry your ego with you. You carry your entire world with you and all your fantasy clothing doesn’t help.
I’m not talking about religion here, I’m talking about personal things, who we are, what we are, where we are going, what we are doing! I am disaster, my mind is making it. Everything is always with me, always with me, my attitudes poison me. That is what I am talking about.
All this religion you follow… as long as you don’t touch reality in yourself, as long as you don’t eradicate your fantasies, you are a disaster. (Now I am disaster hot!)
In fact, reality is very simple. The simplicity of the mind can touch reality, and meditation is something that goes beyond the intellect and brings the mind into its natural state.
Compassion is not about kindness. Compassion is about awareness. Compassion in the general sense of kindness would be an expression of awareness, but one that might not necessarily be free from the stain of ego-grasping. Genuine compassion is egoless. It is the inherent essence expressed, inseparable from awareness. This natural essence, which is genuine compassion, does not need to be formulated or even expressed as something like “compassion.” We see this exemplified in our great teachers. Their genuine compassion does not require phrases and expressions or even actions. Just their presence, who they are, is nothing other than the quintessence of compassion.
The bodhisattva vow acknowledges confusion and chaos — aggression, passion, frustration, frivolousness — as part of the path. The path is like a busy, broad highway, complete with roadblocks, accidents, construction work, and police. It is quite terrifying. Nevertheless it is majestic, it is the great path. “From today onward until the attainment of enlightenment I am willing to live with my chaos and confusion as well as with that of all other sentient beings. I am willing to share our mutual confusion.” So no one is playing a one-upmanship game. The bodhisattva is a very humble pilgrim who works in the soil of samsara to dig out the jewel embedded in it.
Do you really want to support the center, support the dharma, and benefit sentient beings, with all three of your doors and not just your mouth? Then you need to be flexible and accommodating, rather than wanting everyone else to help and support you in your idea. We are all one family, all trying to support the dharma because that way we can be sure we are bringing benefit to sentient beings in a meaningful way. We are none of us at the level where we should be proud, or want to be the boss. None of us have those kinds of qualities and none of us are omniscient! But all of us can try to be more harmonious and more humble, which is how we can develop those qualities in ourselves. Each person should check his or her own mind continuously to see when the faults of stubbornness and self-importance creep in. When you see your faults, then you can work to eradicate them. That is how you develop qualities. That is how you clean up your mindstream and become worthy of praise and respect. You don’t get praise and respect by yelling the loudest; if you did, babies would be above all others. We don’t need more babies crying or boasting. We need people working together smoothly, watching and helping intelligently, like grown up human beings. That is not beyond our level. Therefore, if you really want to help, watch yourself carefully. Be patient with each other. Have humility and discipline, which means being in control of your three doors, rather than everything being under the power of your five poisons. Then everything will be very good: in the center, with the sangha, with the dharma, everything. That way, it works!