For the Easter Weekend of April 15th to 17th 1995, Ringu Tulku gave a series of talks at Kagyu Samye Ling in Scotland, entitled “Inspired Heart, Enlightened Mind”, explaining the compassionate approach of Mahayana Buddhism. These teachings are based on “the two aspects of the mind awakening to its inner enlightenment -Bodhicitta”. These three sessions afforded the opportunity for practioners to question Rinpoche at length. These questions are all listed below.
In the first session, Rinpoche explains how we repeatedly become ensnared in suffering through samsaric habitual tendencies and identifying with MY thoughts and emotions.
If we don’t react with thoughts they liberate themselves.
In meditation, we don’t try to stop our thoughts. We merely don’t continue to habitually get involved with them.
Instead, we just remain aware.
Questions & Answers
Q. 10:27 What happens when we meditate?
Q. 39:29 What is your Lojong book about?
Q. 40:52 How are we best to integrate meditation into everyday life?
Q. 50:30 How do you feel about self-hypnosis as a tool towards meditation?
Q. 51:45 Meditation seems very intellectual to me. I see westerners as being too intellectual already. Do we not have a need for more grounded practicality?
Q. 57:44 Does it help to use visualisation to relax?
Q. 59:51 Can we properly relax using artistic methods?
Q. 01:01:00 If the samsaric state is getting “caught in thought”, if we let go in that instant, is the other state a nirvana one?
Q. 01:02:30 Is the state of being arrived through meditation, rather than thinking about the past or future, a “now-ness”?
Q. 01:03:23 You said that the samsaric state is: chasing things that we think will make us happy; and running away from things we think will cause us pain; but is the alternative state to samsara, merely accepting being miserable or in pain? I can’t believe that you would not want to be happy and avoid being unhappy! Are you saying that we should just have acceptance of whatever is happening?
Q. 01:06:43 Rinpoche, what is the difference between: a state of acceptance and equanimity, without wanting; and the state of “I don’t care”?
Q. 01:07:51 Is one element not being dependent, on outside things or people, for your happiness?
Q. 01:10:49 Can skilful experiences build up, because it seems that Enlightenment is far away?
Q. 01:11:25 Shepherds visited Milarepa in a cave and believed that he was in an awful situation. However despite having nothing outside, the way he related to his problems, actually made them really useful to him and a source of joy. So is the way we understand, relate to, and deal with, our problems, what makes them a pleasurable or painful experience?
The first session concludes at 01:14:21.
The second day’s session commences near the end of the first recording, with Rinpoche resuming speaking from 01:20:25.
He emphasizes the need for initial intellectual understanding, to then subsequently inspire practice, to bring us to actual experience.
We should neither go blindly, nor should we lack belief in our potential to become limitless.
The second recording reminds us that there will always be problems in every social, political and economic system in the world, because of our way of reacting. Liberation is achieved at an individual level.
We can get stuck in whatever we have become used to; even painful experiences. But it is possible to free ourselves from our habitual tendencies that give rise to suffering.
Q. 09:35 How do we let go of grief?
Rinpoche goes on to talk about the hazards of mistaken assumptions.
Our problems with aversion are then discussed.
Q. 31:09 I find some specific types of noise a form of mental torture. How do I deal with the agony having to listen to bird-scaring gas guns throughout the day?
Rinpoche talks about his experience of getting used to sleeping with large numbers of bed bugs.
Q. 36:18 Some things we can’t do anything about. If we’re trying to deal with aversion in our meditation, I have the fear that we may be taken advantage of, or be exploited by others who sense perceived weakness in us; potentially putting us or others at risk of harm. How do you deal with that situation?
Rinpoche quotes Shantideva:”if we can positively change something -there is no need to be unhappy; if we can’t change it -there is no use to be unhappy about it”.
Q.46:29 What do you do with self-hatred?
Rinpoche talks about our underlying expectations of ourselves and our attachment to them; believing there is no other way. Our perspective can be blocked.
Q.51:06 If we get habituated to a familiar state of affairs, is it fear of the unknown, that makes us hold onto what is familiar? What is the antidote to that fear?
Rinpoche then discusses Tong Len “Giving and Taking” practice.
The second session ends at 55:37.
The third and final session commences at 01:01:29.
Rinpoche discusses the Four Foundations. If we lose the expectation of obtaining happiness from a samsaric state of mind and we accept the impermanence of all phenomena, then we are then ready to encounter anything. Preparedness for “the worst thing that can happen” both gives us perspective and makes life easier.
If through compassion, we also become aware of the suffering of others, then our self-pity lessens.
We tend to judge the world from our imposed point of view; our idealised projection: “Things Should Be Like This”. Then, if we find things are not like that, we judge them to be Wrong, and get annoyed!
But, if we understand why things are happpening as they are, or why people are acting in a certain way, then we can become more sympathetic, instead of just feeling personally hurt by the unpleasant actions of others.
Real compassion is based on this understanding; seeing the situation clearly. It is not contrived as an ideal, just because we feel that we Ought To Have Compassion! Rather, compassion is necessary. We can’t do without it. Anger and hatred don’t help us, and they don’t help others either.
Everyone wants love and appreciation. But who would genuinely want to become friends with an angry person? (Other than Atisha, who specifically wanted an angry companion -to test Atisha’s patience!). We have to cultivate joy from within ourselves, not dependent on external impermanent phenomena, such as a beautiful companion or desirable possessions, but instead dependent on our own way of seeing things.
The third recording continues this final session.
Rinpoche discusses a shepherd’s progressive Mind Training using dark and light pebbles. Awareness brings about our transformation.
Q. 06:00 If someone upsets you and you try to be patient, but feel upset inside, is it better to say nothing, and not react?
Q. 11:00 Is anger not physical? Will the emotion just fade away if you give it time? When I’m angry, I want to express it with a sound or a movement!
Rinpoche then discusses how many people develop an Inspired Heart through devotion.
Devotion is a very important practice as it has the qualities of relaxed, pure, concentration without attachment or jealousy. It is important in seeing our True Nature, because devotion has the same clarity without concepts. If we relax into a state of devotion we can experience, and rest in, our True Nature.
Photography by Conrad Harvey.