The Four Magical Laws of Life
Here Rinpoche gives a helpful teaching for anyone going through difficult times or encountering upsetting experiences in life. Practical pith instructions on the Four Thoughts that can positively transform our lives.
- Precious Human Life: where we appreciate what we have with gratitude, every morning that we awaken as a human. As opposed to focussing on missing what we don’t have and want. If we don’t appreciate the positive things that we actually have, and instead take them for granted, it can feel similar to not having them at all. Our situation is usually far better than it could be. If we can make a habit of appreciating what we have; such a perspective can transform our life.
- Impermanence (from 33:03): something we can all obviously see as a fact of life, but which we try to ignore. So when something changes we get shocked. But, rather than getting sad, we can be inspired to use our time meaningfully to do useful things. Good things change. Bad things change too. So we can be more flexible when change naturally takes place. This can be liberating; change happens constantly. So what solidly exists on its own in us, when everything is always changing, like the flow of a river? What is there that remains and exists, that can die? Life, death, bardo, rebirth is all continuous transition. The problem is not the change. The problem is we try to hold onto something that we can’t hold onto. Us grabbing at the water flow will not stop the river. When we understand this we can relax. Without tensions about the past or anxiety about the future.
- Karma (from 51:04) is about interdependence and dependent arising; nothing independently exists on its own. Everything has many relative causes and conditions; all in reference to other phenomena. This also applies to dependent designation: how many trees are required to become “a forest”? How we are now, is through our karmic result of everything that has happened to us up until now. The way we are, what we do, what we think, similarly influences our future. If we think in a more positive way, tomorrow we can be happier. What we are doing now, and how we are reacting now, influences how we will be tomorrow. This is why we have to train ourselves. We are responsible for ourselves.
- Samsara (from 01:08:12) refers to a dissatisfied state of mind where we either are running after something or away from something. Samsara is not the world, or an aspect of Eastern or Western culture. Samsara is not a shopping mall! Samsara is a state of mind. People in samsara are under the influence of negative emotions and kleishas; which disturb their minds. If we encounter people with negative characteristics, we must remember that they are samsaric beings; and develop empathy and understanding. We are not perfect. Neither are they. So, we should have realistic expectations: both of ourselves and of others. We are not identical to anyone else. Everyone has their own problems. We should develop compasssion and patience both for others and ourselves. When we deeply understand this, we appreciate people more, when we don’t expect others to be perfect. We also don’t expect too much from ourselves too. It also reminds us of why we are working towards liberation. A reminder and incentive.
Q&As with the audience start at 01:20:20.
These are teachings intended to apply to ourselves, not to project value judgements on the circumstances of others.
Rinpoche then talks about the balance between acceptance/contentment and competition/ambition.
He concludes by highlighting the mistake of grasping onto a Concept of emptiness.
Note: During this teaching there were two brief episodes of speaker feedback within the room. Rinpoche states that thanks to these, no one will sleep through this teaching! 😀