Remembering everything you experience is created by mind is also the direct antidote to pride and ego, and once it becomes second nature, you will no longer cling to your dharma activities. This does not mean you will not practise. On the contrary, in the same way someone dying of thirst cannot resist taking large gulps of water, once you know everything is an illusion, your only thoughts will be about the dharma. Of course, the dharma itself is the antidote to ego, but for those who take pride in being good practitioners, dharma activities can be just another means of boosting their egos. And this is why it is so important to remember that absolutely everything we experience is just a product of mind, even if it’s only for five minutes a day.
If you exaggerate the value of external objects, thinking that they are the most important things in life, you ignore your inner beauty and internal joyful energy; if you look only outside of yourself, you neglect your most precious human qualities — your intellect and your potential to communicate in higher ways. Thus, meditation shows you clean clear which objects of attachment confuse you and with which kinds of mind you relate to them.
The Tibetan word for Buddhism, nangpa, has the meaning of internalizing, indicating that we need to turn inward and work within ourselves. By doing so and gaining a clearer sense of who we really are, we develop a sense of our existence as it relates to all that surrounds us. If we look outside and try to figure out what is out there based on confused mental projections, we will never recognize who we are. What is fundamentally true is that the experience of pain or pleasure is not so much what is happening externally as it is what is happening internally: the experience of pain or pleasure is mainly a state of mind. Whether we experience the world as enlightened or confused depends on our state of mind.
Giving, opening, sacrificing ego is necessary. It is like performing an operation. It might be painful because finally we realize that we cannot take part in our own burial. Very painful. We lose our grip on the wishful-thinking world of pleasure and goodness. We have to give up trying to associate ourselves with goodness. Having a relationship with this may be extremely difficult. It’s an organic operation without any anesthetics.
Thoughts are just displays of the mind. They may be waves stirring up the all-ground consciousness, but this is not a fault. If you just rest loosely in them, they will disappear right there. This is why when we meditate we should let the thoughts that occur in the sixth mental consciousness relax into the all-ground consciousness.
Patience is not learned in safety. It is not learned when everything is harmonious and going well. When everything is smooth sailing, who needs patience? If you stay in your room with the door locked and the curtains drawn, everything may seem harmonious, but the minute anything doesn’t go your way, you blow up. There is no cultivation of patience when your pattern is to just try to seek harmony and smooth everything out.
In ancient India, people used the term “guru” with genuine veneration. If a guru was not a savior, at least he or she was worthy of trust, someone to lean on. Spiritual gurus were associated with wisdom and protection, leading a way on a path to the truth. Now the word “guru” is frequently associated with power, sex, money, hypocrisy, and, in the Tibetan’s case, thrones, brocades, entourages, and glittering monasteries. It has been reduced to mean a person rather than a path or a technique.
As I have said, language and definitions have a powerful impact on our understanding, so it’s important to discuss the various meanings and interpretations of “guru”. The Sanskrit word guru is elastic. Taxi drivers call each other “guru”. Students call their math teachers “guru”. But the Tantric Buddhist word “Guru” is not the same as the “priest” or “houfo” (Chinese for “living Buddha”).
Chinese also have something called fawang, which means “Dharma king,” but this concept has nothing to do with Buddhism; it’s cultural. It’s rise in popularity has created a rush of activity among the Tibetans to acquire the fawang title. Imagine a Vatican with one hundred popes, some of whom are just ten years old and barely know how to wipe their noses. That is the kind of result the Tibetans are getting.
Even the Tibetan term tulku, meaning “manifestation,” and yangsi, meaning “reexisting” or “reincarnation,” are not synonymous with “guru.” Just because someone is a priest, a huofo, a tulku, or a yangsi does not mean he or she is ready-made guru to be sought after.
These forms are not the means of obtaining the right state of mind. To take this posture is itself to have the right state of mind. There is no need to obtain some special state of mind.
Take the initiative to seek out information, and then merge what you learn with your feelings. This is a way to use the Internet wisely, to allow you to feel your connectedness. You could read about the daily lives of people in that country. You could do a search for images of factory workers. When you find them, look into their eyes, and reflect that they or someone like them ran the machine that sewed your garments. You could learn more about the circumstances of their lives, and try to feel how your life would be if you had grown accustomed to living under those conditions.
When it is grounded in gratitude and a sense of closeness, your greater awareness of the disparities between your living conditions and theirs could motivate you to act to improve their circumstances. At a minimum, each time you put on an article of clothing, you can recognize that you are wearing a sign of others’ kindness. You could feel as close to others as your clothes are to you.