A talk on the topic The Practice of Dharma in Our Daily Life.
First we have to make clear what the practice of dharma means. It is not about using a certain set of practices. Instead, it is about making our daily life less harmful and more beneficial to ourselves and others now and in the long run. And in order to do that, to do what needs to be done to transform the defects and shortcomings I find in myself.
The 3 keypoints to check, to consider and to be kept in mind:
– What are my actions of body, speech and mind
– What kind of emotional state of mind I have
– How is my understanding and how I see the world – the view I have
Dharma practice is a training and an education on how to become a better human being. It’s not about following a tradition or holding on to a belief system. It’s not about making an identification, but how we actually act. As the Dalai Lama says, it’s not necessary to convert. It’s not about what you call yourself. If that is not understood, we can become sectarian, and that doesn’t work. The practice is about how we transforms ourselves and how we act.
First we have to check on our actions: is it harmful or beneficial for myself and others. If I’m acting with kindness, then it is most likely ok. If I’m not acting kindly with the person next to me – those that I encounter every day -, it is not the way, no matter what my seemingly dharma practice is and how kindly I may think of all the sentient beings.
From around 13:50 Rinpoche tells a great story about the king who asked 3 questions: what is the most important time for me, who is the most important person for me, and what is the most important thing for me to do.
The most important time is now, the most important person is the person next to me, and the most important thing to do is to help that person. Whether what we do becomes a dharma practice or not, depends on many things. But if we do this, then there is no uestion that is dharma practice. The main thing is to see and be mindful how you are acting.
Of course, because of our negative emotions and strong habitual tendencies, we are not always able to do the right thing. That is why we need to work on them, and this is where the meditation is needed and all the different kinds of practice are used. We must find out whether our habitual way of reacting is with a negative emotion most of the time, and to see by ourselves if those ways of reacting are bringing us suffering or not. For instance, when anger arises, it may seem to come as to help you, but in fact it is harming you. When you see this deeply, you will see that the opposite of all negative emotions is compassion. Trying to develop more kindness and compassion in our heart is the opposite of all negative emotions.
This can be done when you understand that everything is interdependent. We share this one world, the environment, where everything is interdependent and interrelated. That’s why we have to educate ourselves and to see how things really are. Through that we try to work on our mind, to lessen the negative emotions and generate compassion, and then act in the positive way. When we do these 3 things, we are practicing dharma.
What exactly we do doesn’t really matter, if it works on us. We should be mindful of how we are living our life – and our life actually means one day. From 28:50 Rinpoche gives a guideline for the practice in one day. In the morning, you make an aspiration to use the day in a purposeful way. Then you try to live the day accordingly. In the evening, you review the day and see how you managed, and purify what needs purifying, and dedicate what went well. After letting go like this of it all, you can go to bed with all things free.
The last 10 minutes of the talk are answers to questions posed by the audience.
One way to let go of negative reactions is to bring something positive to mind instead. That is done as a training, and done repeatedly, to gain confidence that there is something you can do to let go.
When we are busy with many things to do, we have to prioritize what is most meaningful and beneficial.
Dealing with negative emotions, the most important thing is to understand that reacting with them is not doing any good for myself and others.
(This is a summary of some notes taken while listening to Rinpoche’s talk, not a transcript.)