Only when we have a genuine, abiding desire to free ourselves from suffering and all its causes does our spiritual journey begin. That original desire is very potent and very real. It is the basis upon which we enter the path that will lead us to our goal. Yet from the point of view of the Vajrayana, or tantric, school of Buddhism, there is no place to go on that path, no end of the road where we will one day satisfy our thirst for liberty. Why? Because the very thing that we are looking for — freedom, wakefulness, enlightenment — is right here with us all the time.
If you do not pray with devotion to the wish-fulfilling master,
the requisite and desired accomplishments will not come,
so diligently cultivate a mind filled with devotion.
If you do not give rise to the four powers of devotion,
toward the master, the buddha of the three times,
the blessings of the wisdom mind transmission will not enter you,
so diligently give rise to devotion.
If you do not serve the master’s enlightened body with devotion,
your mind will not be liberated by blessings,
so diligently bring forth this devoted mind.
From the maṇḍala of the master’s enlightened speech,
when the nectar of pith instructions is bestowed,
if one-pointed devotion does not arise,
it will be difficult to tame a discursive mind like mine,
so diligently cultivate devotion.
From the maṇḍala of the master’s enlightened heart,
the entrance to the profound teachings of the secret treasury is bestowed.
If you are not inspired with devotion,
it is impossible for the accomplishments of your spiritual heritage to well forth,
so definitely give rise to devotion.
If you do not respectfully and in the threefold manner
please the master who is endowed with the three kindnesses,
you will lack even an atom’s worth of the essence of generation, recitation and perfection practice,
so diligently cultivate this devoted mind.
The guru is the actual buddha of the three times,
whose awakened mind is endowed with the wisdom of twofold omniscience.
His compassion is neither near nor far,
but if you do not pray with devotion,
it is difficult to be held by his compassion which can lead you,
so definitely inspire yourself with devotion.
If you merely talk about the view of emptiness but at the same time behave inconsiderately, it is said that your conduct has become lost in the view. If you believe that, since everything is empty by nature, it is all right to do whatever you want and it makes no difference whether your actions are virtuous or non-virtuous, then your conduct has become “lost in the view.” All the great teachers say just the opposite — that the more you understand the view of emptiness, the more aware and careful you are regarding the law of cause and effect.
Interdependence is not a mere theory or interesting philosophy. It impacts our lives directly every single day. By deepening our awareness of interconnectedness, we can create a far more harmonious and healthy society and live far more satisfying lives. For that to happen, we can’t just stop our analysis at the interdependence of the physical world. The human heart and mind — what we might call our inner world — form an integral part of these webs of interdependence.
There is no other difﬁcult practice equal to patience – not getting angry with someone who harms you, and even if you do get angry, not remaining so. It is the ultimate austerity. Therefore do not allow yourself even the slightest occasion for anger, which is incompatible with such a sublime austerity as patience.
An important point to remember is that whatever information we gather, we also filter, so what we’re left with is a very particular kind of understanding unique to ourselves. This understanding is not realization. It’s not even an experience. It is like a patch that will eventually fall off. It’s fine to be covered in patches of understanding because sooner or later they are bound to fall off so that experience can be revealed. However, we should also be aware that living with all these patches will prolong the time we spend on the path to enlightenment. How much time do we really have left in this lifetime? Twenty years? Thirty, if we’re lucky? Given that everything we have understood so far is nothing more than a patch that’s holding together our version of samsara, are any of us really willing to spend another ten years believing in that reality? We must, therefore, be prepared to peel off those patches.
But be aware that once the inner skin has been exposed, it’s possible to mistake it for the fruit, which is why we must always be ready to accept that it is just another skin. This is not a principle we apply only to hearing, contemplation, or reading; it’s even more relevant when we meditate. This is what is meant by the Tibetan saying “Experience is like a mist in the morning. It will evaporate.”
We should be quite gentle in judging ourselves and remember that the habits we are fighting against come from beginningless time and are very strong. So from time to time there will be some backsliding — though in the long run there is progress and improvement. Furthermore, remember that even having entered the gate of the Dharma, having the intention to reduce our disturbing emotions, or being concerned about disturbing emotions is amazing because most people involved in samsara never even think about this.