Thursday, October 2, 2014

Discovering Your Self-Nature, by Shang Rinpoche


Shang Longrik Gyatso Rinpoche Blog Image
All Buddhist practice is essentially none other than finding and employing one’s self-nature and the mind to transform the dualities presented in both the internal and external worlds, as well as a way to attain the absolute, the ultimate state free from dualities. To be concise, the crux of all of this rests on one question: how should we regard the 'self'? If you haven't already dealt with this question then an endless series of attachments will flow forth. These attachments are directly related to greedy desire, ignorance and hatred. The more we allow our mind to slip from a state of lucidity, the more time we will spend lost in confusion. Slowly, even the shadow of our self-nature fades and is completely covered up, sealed like an herbal panacea into the heart of a great, dark mountain. As time goes by, the herbs start to rot. In actuality, your Buddha nature is ever-present and indestructible like a diamond. All of the different stones in the world can be corroded and worn down in countless ways; only the diamond can be pressed and rolled together for a million years with an assortment of other stones and come out with exactly the same shape and brilliance after a quick rinse. It is also similar to gold ore buried thousands of feet underground: a simple extraction process involving a chemical solution will reveal its true essence. Every person carries the conditions for becoming a Buddha. It is the afflictions in the mind that cover up the splendor of one's self nature and eventually make even the mind itself hard to see.

All mental afflictions stem from our own ignorance and greed. The tricky part is that when an ordinary person sees something they like they only see its attractive appearance, not its true nature. They are overwhelmed and crushed by their own desires, something quite lamentable. If this person lacks a wise approach (to their afflictions), there is absolutely no chance for them to see through to the dark and dusty nature of ignorance, just as someone in a foggy and disoriented state brought about by a fever is unable to think clearly before it has abated. If we throw a clean bone to a stray dog, that dog will gnaw on it madly though it will not get a single scrap of meat. The only thing it will get is complete exhaustion from the effort. The greedy desires of humanity are just like this starving dog, gnawing away insatiably at our buddha nature. It is one of the greatest temptations we face. If we truly wish to see the essence of our pure self nature, desire and the ego are the first things we need to face, transform and conquer.

Before you have found the method to instantly get rid of desire and ignorance, at the very least you need to vigilantly observe yourself. Once your mind starts to attach to fame, reputation and wealth, you need to remind yourself that these things only appear to be yours but are actually just temporary indulgences. Then ask yourself: what is the path to a contentment and happiness that never wears out? When we start to busy ourselves with building our skills and abilities, we need to remind ourselves what would come of even the world’s highest honors and greatest awards. Has everyone ever to win the Nobel Prize attained enlightenment and liberation? When we are pummelled by slander and criticism, the most important thing is to see whether your mental state has been affected by their words, or whether you have remained firm, clear and still, like tranquil water. Know that if we can feel grateful for the disturbances brought to us by a merciless and unreasonable world, see them as purifying the negative karma we have gathered from time immemorial, allow the mind and body to be completely at ease, then it will be much easier to see our self nature.

At times when our spirits sink or when our mind becomes infatuated with certain thoughts and creates immense inner turbulence, there are only two things that can help: find a quiet place and visualize all the buddhas of the ten directions in the space above eye level. The buddhas completely fill the space in front of you, radiating magnificent light upon you. Respectfully and humbly, make full-body prostrations to pay homage to all the buddhas whilst reciting the Hundred Syllable Mantra, keeping your mind focused and free of thoughts. After a time, purification will naturally take place. For intermediate level practitioners, they can sit in full-lotus posture in a quiet corner, keeping their eyes open wide and jaws clenched, straightening the spine and observing closely the thoughts in the mind. In this way, delusive thoughts will naturally dissipate. For advanced level practitioners, they know that when afflictions arise, there is no other method than just watching and melding with them. Eventually, afflictions will disperse of their own accord.

This is a short excerpt taken from a simple account that I, Shang Longrik Gyatso, gave to satisfy some practitioners who are interested in Mahamudra and were visiting from the south.

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