Realize Buddha Nature

1450338_10152031390726154_459745116_nGenerally speaking, the ultimate message of Buddhism is that you possess Buddha Nature. In other words, you already and quite naturally have within you the qualities of complete enlightenment. But you need to realize this. The fact that you don’t have this realization is the reason why you are wandering in samsara.

According to Nagarjuna, the Buddha didn’t say that you need to abandon samsara in order to gain enlightenment. What He said was that you need to see that samsara is empty, that it has no inherent existence. This is the same as saying that you need to recognize your essential Buddha Nature.

―Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche

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Ritual and Superstition

imagesIn some religions, ritual is believed to be efficacious ‘from its own side’ ―that is, the words and actions that constitute the ritual are considered effective, independently of other causes and conditions, and even in situations in which causes and conditions are unfavorable.

In some, the careful pronunciation of mantras and the elaborate observance of certain practices (ritual exactitude) are believed to produce results. In others, rituals are operative if the forms are respected, independently of the purity of the performer. In still others, ‘accepting the Lord in the heart’ through the utterance of a formula is considered sufficient for salvation. Spells and incantations are often considered efficacious (à la Harry Potter) if the correct substances are employed and the directions are followed without deviation. And in yet others, if you can visualize it, declare it, and affirm it, it will happen…

Buddhist rituals have very little in common with these views. Mantras have no intrinsic power, nor are there inherently sacred objects or procedures. In Buddhism, ritual is merely a vehicle for intention. It is the mind of the practitioner that is transformed by ritual, and not the external world.

One thing is to use ritual properly as a skillful means to deepen and sustain intention, and quite another to believe in its independent efficacy, which is mere superstition and magical thinking.

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This Treasure Called Generosity

1898638_10202499444141234_1913807302_oLay disciples of the Buddha,

with a mind free of disgracing miserliness,

freely bountiful and openhanded,

delight in being magnanimous,

are responsive to every request,

and enjoy the giving of alms.

Just as a filled pot, when it is overturned,

pours out all of its water, leaving nothing back,

even and exactly so do they give to those in need

―whether inferior, equal, or superior to them―

like the overturned pot, holding nothing back.

―Buddha Shakyamuni

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Three Wheels

DolpoJonangI bow at the feet of the Lamas who teach the intent of the Dharma Wheel of the Four Truths, the Dharma Wheel of No Characteristics, and the Dharma Wheel of Certainty in the Absolute.

I bow at the feet of the Lamas who, with the nectar stream of the Three Wheels in sequence, clean the three coarse, subtle, and extremely subtle stains to obtain the sublime jewel of the Truth Form separated from stain.

I bow at the feet of the Lamas who teach people who accept external objects that everything is mind, who teach the middle way of no appearance to those who are attached to mind as something real, and who teach the Great Middle Way of perfect appearance to those who accept no appearance.

I bow at the feet of the Lamas who teach inferior disciples the Dharma of cause and result, who teach those who adhere to existence that everything is empty, and who teach the Buddha Nature of luminosity to those who accept nothing.

―Kunchen Dolpopa

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Tonglen: Giving and Taking

10262096_433310203471355_1943803988365202634_nAll sentient beings, my parents, wish happiness;

all wish to avoid suffering.

If all my mothers suffer, how can this child be happy?

I shall suffer the consequences of my unskillful acts,

if not this very day, then shortly after—

bless me to eat the bitter fruit before it ripens.

Bless me to take away their suffering.

so’ham sa’ham

I take into my heart all their suffering and the causes of suffering.

By the fire of aspiration and the wind of compassion,

it dissolves into emptiness.

ram yam kham

I give them all my happiness and the causes of happiness.

om ah hum

Gain and victory to others, loss and defeat to myself!

Whenever and wherever I meet my anguished mothers,

bless me to mount this aspiration on the breath.

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Mirages

93603-004-D74382EFAll phenomena merely arise from conditions, without any self, agent, soul, or creator, and are like a dream, an illusion, a mirage, or an echo.

The objects of perception appear to be external, but are merely the habitual propensities of mind, and even mind, intellect, and consciousness are mere names, mere designations, just emptiness like space.

The aggregates of form, sensation, perception, volition, and consciousness are like foam, water bubbles, an illusion, a mirage, or an echo; the objects of the senses are the same as an empty town; and the senses are the same as vicious vipers.

―Kunchen Dolpopa

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Painful, Dangerous, and Boring

wheel-of-samsaraThe nature of suffering is the same for the entire three realms —like being caught in a pit of fire, or a vicious viper’s mouth, or like a bee circling inside a pot. ―Kunchen Dolpopa

In other words, the cycle of birth and death is painful, dangerous, and boring.

It is painful, because all that come together will come apart, all that is gathered will be scattered, all that is built will be destroyed, and all that are born will surely die.

It is dangerous, because all desires inevitably lead to suffering: most often, we do not get what we want; at other times, we do get what we want, but it is not what we expected; and, although rarely, sometimes we get what we want, it is just what we expected, and then we inevitably lose it… Furthermore, even that which ordinarily supports life ―such as food, drink, and shelter― can become a cause of death. It is boring, because we are doomed to repeat cycles within cycles, mistake after mistake, pain after pain: work and rest; earn and spend; hunger and satiation; love and hate; pleasure and pain;  gain and loss; praise and censure; fame and dishonor ―in short: birth, disease, old age, and death.

We need not despair. There is an end to suffering, and the Noble Eightfold Path leads to the cessation of suffering.

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