The basis of the mahayana practice differs from the hinayana in that one does not practice abandonment, rejection, etc. Instead, in mahayana, one deals with one’s behavior in a manner of transformation. For example, if the desire to harm another sentient being arises on the crest of a wave of great anger, then one immediately applies the antidote of compassion; the energy of the anger is thereby transformed into compassion. One does not deal with an emotion simply by cutting it off; rather, one uses compassion to transform it on the basis of its inherent insubstantiality.
In their ignorance, sentient beings think all that they experience is real, and their misconception entails their experiencing a great deal of suffering. Ones sees that all sentient beings are experiencing the illusory manifestations of the three bodies (the fully ripened, the habitual tendency, and the mental bodies), and that they are completely locked in these illusions. Recognizing the habitual clinging of these three categories of sentient phenomena as being only illusory appearance, then one recognizes emptiness.
By recognizing that one’s delusion and habitual clinging cause suffering, an intense compassion can arise. The recognition of emptiness itself is referred to as wisdom, and the arising compassion is referred to by the term means. The path of recognizing the emptiness of these three categories of phenomena, and of developing compassion for all those experiencing such delusion, is the path of mahayana, and this path has its pinnacle in the union of means and wisdom.
It is never too late to turn on the light. Your ability to break an unhealthy habit or turn off an old tape doesn’t depend on how long it has been running; a shift in perspective doesn’t depend on how long you’ve held on to the old view. When you flip the switch in that attic, it doesn’t matter whether its been dark for ten minutes, ten years or ten decades. The light still illuminates the room and banishes the murkiness, letting you see the things you couldn’t see before. Its never too late to take a moment to look.
Living in a society should be our daily reminder of how much we receive from and owe to one another. A clear awareness of this debt for the kindness we receive from others can provide a stable foundation for engagement in social service or activism. Our actions can be grounded in the simple wish to care for others as we ourselves have been cared for by the world.
It can be difficult to accept others and to accept ourselves. “I should be better. I should be something different. I should have more.” All of this is conception; it’s all mental fabrication. It’s just the mind churning up “shoulds,” “ought tos,” and “supposed tos.” All this is conceptual rubbish, and yet we believe it. Part of the solution is to recognize that these thoughts are conceptual rubbish and not reality; this gives us the mental space not to believe them. When we stop believing them, it becomes much easier to accept what we are at any given moment, knowing we will change in the next moment. We’ll be able to accept what others are in one moment, knowing that they will be different in the next moment. This is good stuff for everyday practice; it’s very practical.
The success of our lives and our future depends on our motivation and determination or self-confidence. Through difficult experiences, life sometimes becomes more meaningful. If you look at people who, from the beginning of their lives, have had everything, you may see that when small things happen they soon lose hope or grow irritated. Others have developed stronger mental attitudes as a result of their hardships.
Don’t seek profit over and above what your work is worth. Acquiring false profit makes a fool (of oneself). So an ancient once said, “Be rich in honesty.”
We want to understand ourselves, the world around us, and what it means to be alive on Earth. We want to discover who we really are, and we want to understand our suffering. Understanding our suffering gives rise to acceptance and love, and this is what determines our quality of life. We all need to be understood and to be loved. And we all want to understand and to love.
Nowadays we all boast that we are Dharma practitioners, but we have not severed our attachment to the things of this life, we have not turned our minds away from cyclic existence, we have not relinquished even the smallest of our desires — for friends and relations, entourage, servants, food and clothes, pleasant conversation, and the like. As a result, any positive activities we undertake are not really effective. Our minds and the Dharma go different ways.
Here, in this book, I will try to show that the guru is actually like the horizon. A horizon is apparent — a line where earth and sky appear to meet. But in reality, they never meet. There is only an illusion of an ending point, a point of reference where we can stand and measure and assess. In this way, the guru is like a horizon between wisdom and method, myth and truth, science and faith.
Your mind absorbed in bliss and void inseparable, the flow of life appears as a rainbow. One body endlessly sending forth clouds of emanations to set this world ablaze with joy.