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Lions Roar : September 2008
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2008 72 This morning you taught on the ngondro, the traditional prelimi- nary practices of Vajrayana Buddhism. Yet even then you said you wanted to make the teachings accessible. Where is the balance for you between Buddhist tradition and the need to communicate with contemporary Western audiences? There is no single, definitive tradition in the buddhadharma, be- cause there are all kinds of sentient beings who have their own interests and dispositions. For that reason, there has to be a wide variety in methods for traversing the path. Mind is not a definite, concrete thing. For that reason, the methods for relating to the mind also cannot be concrete and universal. The main objective of the dharma is to tame our minds—to bring peace and happiness to our minds—but there needs to be a wide variety of methods available for different sentient beings. For example, some beings might give rise to bodhichitta, the wish to attain enlightenment, through meditating on emptiness. The meditation on emptiness might be an avenue for them to connect with the altruistic heart of bodhichitta. On the other hand, other beings might not be able to connect with bodhi- chitta through contemplating emptiness. So there’s no universal rule, no definitive set of methods. Again, it leads back to the state of mind: since there’s no definitive, universal state of mind, there can never be any definitive, universal set of methods. At the same time, there are traditions within Buddhism that are very beneficial and carry great blessings, because they are the traditions of highly accomplished spiritual beings. These blessings are special and should be seen as sacred and beneficial. That’s why we respect the teaching styles and methods of the great spiritual masters of the past. They don’t have to be regarded as concrete rules, but at the same time they do carry supreme blessings. You said as you began your tour that you came here to learn from Americans. Now, at the end of the two weeks, what have you learned? Since I’ve come to America I’ve had a lot of new experiences. It’s difficult for me to say right away what message I’ve received from Americans, but I would say it’s been wonderful to come directly into contact with the technological and other advancements in the West. Living in the East, we always see images of the advanced things happening in the West, but it’s a different feeling to come here and personally witness them. Some of this experience has The Karmapa conferring an Avalokiteshvara (Chenrezig) initiation in Seattle Unbearable Compassion A teaching by His Holiness the 17th Karmapa OUR COMPASSION must have a broad focus, including not only ourselves and those close to us but all sentient beings. All be- ings want to be happy and free of suffering, yet most sentient be- ings experience only suffering and cannot obtain happiness. Just as we have a desire to clear away the suffering in our own experi- ence and to enjoy happiness, we come to see through meditating on compassion that all other beings have this desire as well. According to the Mahayana teachings, all sentient beings are “our parents of the past, present, and future.” This means that some have been our parents in the past, some are our current parents, and some will be our parents in the future. There are no beings who are not, in the end, our parents, and for this reason all sentient beings have a connection of affection and kindness toward us. Yet these af- fectionate and kind parents are trapped in a state of suffering, un- able to actualize their desire for happiness. It is crucial for us to be- gin meditating on compassion for them in this very moment. When we practice, we must bring our meditation on compassion to the deepest level possible. We must reflect on the intense suffer- ing of sentient beings in all six realms of samsara, the same beings who are our kind parents of the past, present, and future. Reflecting SEPT 70-73.indd 72 SEPT 70-73.indd 72 7/3/08 1:33:11 PM 7/3/08 1:33:11 PM