Discovering Yourself: A Teaching on Karma & Mindstream
Dec 29, 2012
Sometimes dharma talks may touch something sensitive or deep within us, but do not be stuck on the superficial meanings and changes required, but think deeper. Dharma is not something to fear or to judge yourself by but for inner contemplations. To help you to have knowledge to be honest with yourself. To find who you really are and who your potential can be. Dharma is hope. Dharma is light. Dharma is the way of wisdom. Dharma is peace. Dharma is for those who wish peace and need a way to find it. Dharma is for all those who thirst for more in life than just the mundane daily actions. Dharma is for finding a way of life that can change your life for the better. Dharma can never harm nor bring damage. Never. Dharma was intended by Buddha to benefit. And it will benefit if you try.
When you listen to dharma, think it over a period of time and if it makes sense apply it. Only by applying will you see a difference in your mind, thinking and reactions. No one is perfect at our current state but perfection is not impossible as shown by the Buddha. Perfection of the mind is a real tangible state that can be achieved and should be achieved. Do listen to my talk from my heart and or the transcript. Share with those you think it might benefit. I wish you the best from the depths of my heart.
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I’m going to talk about karma but I’m going to talk about it in a very simplistic manner. For those who have heard, it is a…refresher course. For those of you who have not heard it, please listen carefully.
You have three pathways you can go. One is a negative pathway. One is a positive pathway. One is a neutral and/or negative pathway. Okay? So this is you. What determines these three pathways? Because these are…what are these? These are dormant karma. What is a dormant karma? A dormant karma is like a seed that’s in the ground that doesn’t sprout until it rains. So it can remain dormant for 10 years; some seeds can remain dormant for 100 years. Some things can remain dormant for one year, two years but dormancy means something that stays…it doesn’t open till something triggers it to open. Karma is similar. Karma is very similar.
So what happens is, you have your thought. Your thought is…thakpa…kaseyrewada…your thought is continuous. There’s no break. So this is you. When you come here every single day of your life, you can actually think, “Go the wrong way that day”, you can go the right way or you can go the neutral way. This is you. What determines this is motivation.
That’s you. Negative karma. Good karma. Neutral. The defining factor for you to choose this daily, or to trigger this open daily is your motivation. Your motivation arises from study, not necessarily study as in school or university. Study as in knowledge and understanding or wisdom. It can be school, because some schoolteachers give us a lot of wisdom. Knowledge. Knowledge will translate into practice. Practice will translate into habituation. Habituation is translating into wisdom, why? When we do something enough times, it becomes automatic no matter how hard it is in the beginning. So anything that we have done in this life, that is easy for us now, it’s due to habituation. So hence it equals to wisdom. Wisdom is knowing what to do or automatically doing the right thing. That can only arise from habituation. Habituation can only arise from practicing. Practice can only arise if you know how to practice. Knowledge…and that must arise from study. For example listening to a Dharma teacher, reading books or meditating, contemplating or watching seniors who are practiced. So when we have this, we go to this, this goes to this, this goes to this… this will automatically affect our motivation. This is you. If you, that day, think on a negative level, then a negative karma will open. When the negative karma opens, it will come from hiding, denial, animal-like behaviour. What’s animal-like behaviour? Eat, sleep, eat, sleep; don’t care about anything else. Animal-like behaviour. Selfishness – you have no concern about the person near you or next to you, or in front of you, no concern – it’s only about yourself.
Laziness. Laziness is the unwillingness to apply change. Laziness. Unwilling to change and blame. Not taking responsibility for your problems but blaming someone else. Always blaming other people. So when you abide or reside or live in the state of mind that is always hiding from your faults, pointing out other people’s faults but hiding your faults – always, by a nice smile, by a pretty face, by Botox, whatever – you’re always hiding yourself, denial – not admitting what you are to yourself – animal-like behaviour, selfishness, laziness, unwilling to change and blame… when you wake up with that type of thinking, what happens is, that day, the negative karma is activated. So on that day, you will live within negative actions, negative results, and the collection of more negative karma.
So the good thing about this is, once you get here, you can change it. It can either lead to here or it can lead to here. You can change it. Everyday, once you open that negative karma, you’re not stuck there. You’re not stuck. It’s not like, “Oh that day, I am stuck.” What happens is, you can do pujas. You can follow the advice of your elders, your teacher, or a scripture or a friend whose been giving you good advice. You can apply effort. You can apply practice that day. You can apply regret. You can apply purification. You can apply guru devotion or, even better, mending your samaya. If you do these actions, then this action, instead of becoming black leading to this, it will lead to this.
If you, mid-way, you change over due to this – pujas, following advice, effort, practice, regret, purification, guru devotion, mending samaya – then instead of your negative karma following through, which leads to what? It leads to regret, death, bitterness, sickness, unhappiness, lost chances. What’s lost chances? When your wife leaves you. When your children grow up, they become monsters, they don’t listen to you. Or when you’ve been using your mother and father, and your mother and father is dead. No more. That’s your lost chances. No more chances to repair with them anymore. You regret for the rest of your life. All you can do is go to their gravestone, offer flowers and incense, and regret. That’s all you can do.
Alright, now, it will lead to what? It will lead to regret, death, bitterness, sickness, unhappiness, lost chances. Why does it lead to that? Negative karma always leads to negative results. So if you’re always harming your body, if you’re always harming your body and harming other people with your body, it will lead to extreme sickness, oh yes. Example? If you’re always drinking, always smoking, you’re always taking intoxicants or doing drugs or you’re beating people up or you’re using your body for negative actions, then it will lead to sickness. Who put you there? You put yourself there. It will lead to this.
But, if mid-way through, you decide to change, then your positive dormant karma will open up. And that will lead to a good destination, fulfilment of your temporary goals, happiness, openness, clarity – it will lead to this temporarily. So if half-way through your negative karma, you apply this advice, you will receive this result. And this result can lead to positive states of rebirth, to continue one’s benefit to others and to always have good lives – you will always be able to benefit others. You will always take a good rebirth and your rebirth will be very conducive to you and your spiritual practice and your happiness, automatically. It will lead to this. Then, also it can lead to, if you do tantric practice, Kechara Paradise. Kechara Paradise is the name of our centre but Kechara is named after Vajrayogini’s paradise. Like in the Chinese, we believe in the Western Paradise of Amitabha. Similarly, it is a tantric abode of the yidam Vajrayogini. It can lead there.
Once you take rebirth here or you take rebirth here, you don’t stop. Either, if you rebirth here, you continue your spiritual journey by practicing, listening to the Dharma. Or from here, you take rebirth again to benefit others. When you take rebirth here, in positive states of rebirth, you can continue in taking good rebirth again, leading to control, liberation and nirvana. What’s the difference? Control means to be able to control your lives, wherever you go. One life after another, with no fear whatsoever. Second, liberation. Complete Buddhahood. Cessation of all sorts of suffering, cessation of the self-grasping ‘I’. Then, and/or it can lead to nirvana. Nirvana is what? It’s a state of not enlightenment, it is a state of mind you don’t suffer anymore. No more. No more sufferings. Okay?
So this kind of action can lead to this. As I said, if you can see the whole chart, it’s much easier to relate. This way, quite difficult.
Second type. This is the black karma. Now we’re talking about white karma. White karma comes from good motivation, that arises from wisdom, habituation, practice, learning and study. If you jump from one centre to another centre to another centre, from one lama to another lama to another lama, to one lineage to another lineage to another lineage – in the Tibetan tradition, we consider that very bad. Why? You may think you’re ecumenical, you may think that you’re non-biased but actually you mix…it become rojak, not here, not there, no benefits at all.
See people who stick to one lama, one centre, one lineage, one practice, when they reach this level of knowledge, then a practitioner of another lineage, when you bring them together, they’re equal. Their knowledge is equal. Their wisdom is equal. Their approach, they differ or be different because of their lineage. Example? Maybe in this lineage they focus on Green Tara. In this lineage, they focus on White Tara. In this lineage, they focus on Yellow Tara. In this lineage, they focus on Red Tara. But when you achieve Tara, you are Tara. So when you come into one room, it doesn’t matter where you came from but you have arrived. There is no Gelugpa, Nyingma, Sakya or Kagyu Buddha. From the Buddha’s side, they’re nameless. It is from our side, we put names. It is from our side, we put projections. It is from our side, we put them into boxes. But from their side, there is no lineage, free of lineage. Having said that, if we follow a lineage, a teacher, a method all the way, you’ll be very successful. It will not become mixed up.
When you become mixed up, it’s not the side of the lineage or the teacher, it’s the side of your mind jumping. All the time jumping, jumping, jumping, jumping. So the fault comes from yourself. Therefore with white karma, how do you open it everyday? When you wake up, or you start your day with effort, enthusiasm, your sadhana, you do your Protector practice to alleviate your problems – Setrap – kindness, truth, Dharma work. Protector practice in our centre is very unique. It’s very very unique is because I follow the Gaden tradition of Lord Setrap. And our centre has a very powerful reputation – I have heard from others, it’s not me telling them, they have told me – I have heard from them that our centre, when you go to Setrap pujas and you do it, your wishes become fulfilled. That our centre, other people have said, fulfils people’s wishes very quickly or quicker than normal. So when I heard that comment, immediately I thought about Setrap. That’s not me making it up.
You see, I already knew that. That’s why Gaden Monastery takes Lord Setrap as its Protector. All the high lamas for 600 years cannot be wrong. Cannot be wrong. So therefore everyday you do your Protector practices which is excellent. Short one. Why? Protector practice eliminates your outer obstacles given by others and your karma, and inner obstacles such as difficulties, doubts, anger, selfishness. Okay? And in our society, in our society here, I don’t know about others, there’s very strong cases of black magic. Very strong cases of magic and black magic. Do you know how magic can be done to you? Let me explain simply. Because you harmed someone. Because you’ve harmed someone with your body, or speech or your mind, you’ve collected the negative karma. So when they do black magic to you, it can affect you because of your karma. Why? You can do all the black magic you want to the Dalai Lama, he will still be having his breakfast and watching BBC, nothing happens. How come when fat Tsem Rinpoche is having breakfast and someone sends black magic, I go into an epileptic fit? How come? So the magic is the same. The magic can affect you if your negative karma is very strong. So if you try to say, “Oh I’m acting this way, oh I’m doing this, oh I’m doing that because of the magic,” if you say that and you want to blame the magic, for normal people who don’t know anything, they say, “Oh yah yah, could be.” But for people who know, they’ll say, “No, it’s your fault.” Why’s that? You must’ve done something for someone to do magic to you.
And then if you’ve done something for them to do magic to you, you’ve gotten the negative karma. So if the negative karma is very strong, that when someone sends magic, on the basis of your negative karma the magic can come to you. Does everybody understand? Example? You cannot send magic to great meditators, forest monks in Thailand. You cannot send magic, you cannot harm them, they don’t have the karma to be harmed. They didn’t harm you so if you send magic to them, you cannot harm them. Why? There’s no karma to be harmed. Everything comes from karma. Every single thing comes from karma. Therefore if you don’t have the karma, how? So if you run around telling people, “Oh I act like that, I talk like that, I do like this, I do like that, forgive me ah, it’s not me, it’s magic ah?” If you’re with retarded people, they say, “Yes yes, it’s magic, not your fault.” But if you’re with smart people or you’ve graduated from the TKL Institute of Alternative Arts then no one’s going to believe you, because you have a certificate of wisdom.
Yes. So don’t run around blaming black magic for your problems. Never run around blaming black magic for your problems, why? If I go and punch Kheng San, if I go and punch him, slap him, kick him, break his glasses and then kick him one more time, then he comes back with ten brothers and beat me up and I walk in like this, I cannot say it’s his fault. I’ll say…they say, “What happened?”…”Oh it’s his fault, Kheng San beat me up” but if we look deeper, it’s because I beat him up.
So therefore if you run around saying, “Oh my business not successful because I got magic what…my business failed for the twentieth time because I got magic what, give me more money”…aiyoh! You know how many times I’ve heard that from people? When I hear them, I think to myself, “Can I not have my monk vows for 10 minutes so I can beat them?” Oh no, I still beat people with my monk vows, okay never mind. Yah. They tell me… I’ve been listening to this for 20 years. Or they say, “You know what? Tsem Rinpoche does magic. He sends magic to people.” I was thinking, “I do?! How come I don’t make any money from it?” You see, I studied with over 15 great masters and I’m from Gaden Monastery. I’ve never learned magic even once. There’s no word to learn magic in our tradition, no word. So if some people say…even if I know magic, the only way it can affect you is not if I’m powerful, it’s if your karma is weak. It’s like that. You think about it.
So if you want to run around blaming your failure on black magic, you want more money because black magic failed you, or you are selfish or you are erratic or you’re silly or you got a big mouth, and you’re a loser and you want to blame magic, you can do that if nobody knows what you’re talking about but that’s even short term. After a while, they just send you to a big bomoh. It still cannot solve? Bye bye.
What’s my point? My point is simple. You lost, you can get magic because you harmed people. Because you have harmed people, you can get magic. So you don’t blame others for your failure. Why? Because magic is just a part of the whole story.
So hence if you do your Dharma Protector practice well, you can block all magic and protect yourself from all magic. How? Number 1, appreciate your mother and father. Don’t use them. Number 2, appreciate your friends. Don’t use them. Number 3, talk well, use your speech to benefit others. Number 4, use your body to benefit others. Then if you do any Dharma Protector practice such as Palden Lhamo, Mahakala, Kalarupa, Vaisravana, Setrap, any of these, it will have more effect. Why? They are called Dharma Protectors, not ego protectors. If they’re ego protectors, the more bad things you do, the more they help you. Since they’re Dharma Protectors, if you do bad things, you got bad motive, you got bad action and you have bad intent, they cannot help you no matter how many pujas you do. You can sit in the monastery, hit the drum and chant to them for 10 years “please help me get more money so I can use people. Please help me get more money so I can get girls. Please help me get more things so I can take advantage of people” – you can hit the drum all you want, nothing will happen. Nothing. Nothing at all will happen. Why? They’re Dharma Protectors, they’re there to protect you to do good things, not bad things. Alright?
So if you go to Setrap’s puja every week, good for you. The monks do Setrap puja every single day in the monastery. Good for you but do it all the way. Don’t do one part and don’t do the other part. For example, if you know how to drive but your eyes are closed, you’re going to have an accident. Simple. If your eyes are open, you know how to drive, it’s raining hard, you don’t put the windshield wipers, you’re going to have an accident. So you don’t do two…one out of three, two out of three and then don’t get results. You have to do three out of three. Similarly, effort means you don’t give up. You don’t just give up and say, “Oh I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, I give up” and then forget, ignore everybody. Why? If you give up, you don’t apply effort, your karma turns to this. Simple. When your karma turns to this, if you’re having one car accident per month, you might have two, you might have three or you might have one big one, your legs are crushed. You don’t know. Your karma will come back.
Hence do your sadhana. If you’re doing the sadhana of Lama Tsongkhapa everyday, you’re perfect unless your Guru has advised something else. Kindness. Remembering the kindness of others and showing kindness to other people. If you don’t know how to show kindness to other people, if you don’t know how to do kindness, do one of the Dharma works. We have 12 departments now. We have 12 departments in Kechara House that are growing and growing and growing. You can join one of the departments, volunteer in one of the departments or do one of the departments. Why? Because the departments are set up to suit one of your needs. That you can manifest your spirituality through a type of work. So join one of the departments.
White karma will lead to arriving at your destination. That could be fulfilling your business aspirations. Fulfilling your family aspirations. Fulfilling your temporary aspirations. It will be fulfilled. Then that will lead to more rebirths in good, positive situations. That will again lead to either control, liberation or nirvana. That is the path set out by your good karma.
Lastly, neutral karma. Neutral karma is not negative, not positive but can be become negative. Example, giving money to the poor can be positive, negative and neutral. If you give because you don’t care, or you give this way: you’re walking down the street, 10 dollars fall out, you’re too lazy to pick up, someone take it, “okay take it loh, whatever” – neutral. All neutral. The person got the money, the poor person got the money, you didn’t stop it. Neutral. But you didn’t have intent. Okay? You see their suffering, you see their problems and you want to give some relief, you offer 10 dollars. Good karma. Your friends are watching you or in KSK, you go there to give food to other people, maybe there is a pretty girl you want. Maybe there is a pretty boy you want. And for some of you, a pretty uncle, I’ve heard it all. And maybe there’s a pretty uncle that you want…pretty aunty ah? Nooo, let’s not go too far, no. Okay maybe there’s a pretty girl you want, there’s a pretty boy you want, a pretty aunty you want so you want to show them how holy you are. You want to show them how good you are. You want to show them how pure you are. You want to show them how generous you are so while the pretty girl is here, and the pretty boy is here and the pretty uncle is standing there, you give 10 dollars. And when you give the 10 dollars, the guy is taking the money…(addressing Tat Ming) here, you don’t let go, hold it. He’s taking the…don’t let go, he’s taking the money…don’t let go lah! Oh! Grab it! And you’re like, (wide grin on face), it’s taking you a long time to give. He’s trying to grab and you don’t let go, why? Somebody’s taking a photo of you so you want to look good. Then it’s bad karma. Imagine some people do charity work, imagine some people go to a Dharma centre, imagine some people go for meditation classes to get pretty girls and pretty boys. Imagine there are some people like that. Do you know the type of karma they collect? They become an animal in their future life. For not one life, many lifetimes. Many. Oh yes there are people like that. “I think I’ll go…I think I’ll go to KH because that centre only have retirees. KH got pretty people, nice people, pretty girls, pretty boys, the lama’s very good-looking. Yes let’s go there!”
When I said that I’m good-looking, why did the little monkeys laugh so loud, ah? Okay never mind. Even monkeys can laugh. Come to Manjushri Kids Class…hahaha (imitates caning someone) Okay now, neutral karma or can become black karma, based on what? Karma can become good, neutral or positive based on what? Patsy?
Correct. (imitates Patsy mumbling) Mmmmmmm…louder! Don’t be afraid, you’ve been in Dharma for 20 years, come on, louder! Motivation yes, motivation. Did you see Patsy? “Based on what?” She’s like “Mmmmmmm-motivation”…”Yah!” then she’s like, “Phew!” Hahaha
Okay from neutral it goes to what? It results in regret, in death, in bitterness, sickness, unhappiness, loss of chances. Again, same as this. This one will lead to what? Scroll down. Continuous states of unpleasant rebirths, unpleasant experiences, not meeting the Dharma, practising or…not meeting the Dharma, practices or teachings, having wrong view, negative view, habituations. Up.
Hence human, god, demi-god, hell, spirit, animal – these two karmas revolve. The negative karma, the neutral karma results in this. This one results in samsara. So these two lines – you don’t see the black line, you see these two lines, the blue and the red – representing negative karma, neutral karma that can turn to negative, and it goes round and round and round. Non-stop.
You are here. Not the guy next to you. Not the guy in front of you. You…are here. Whether it is negative karma, good karma, positive karma, neutral karma opening up that day, this is your day huh? Depends on your motivation. Your good motivation depends on study and knowledge, practice, habituation, wisdom. Wisdom leads to good motivation. Good motivation and wisdom leads to good karma so that day when you wake up, the karma that you have dormant will be triggered by your motivation. Okay? The karma that’s triggered that day will be by your motivation.
Now. The black karma can trigger that day, you can have an accident, you can break up, you can do drugs again, you can run away, you can fail in business, you can go and make someone unhappy, you can have an argument, you can fall, you can be sick – the negative karma will open that day. Or white karma opens that day. Or neutral karma. That day, any karma can open. Do you know why? Because we have had…according to Lord Buddha, we have had countless previous lives, thousands and thousands and tens of thousands. When you translate directly, trang ka mey ba, no count. Countless. In fact the word is ‘countless’ because there’s so many. Example, how many stars are there in the sky? You can’t count already, it’s beyond count. Beyond count. So you’ve had countless rebirths. Since you’ve had countless rebirths of going round, you will have different types of positive, negative and neutral karmas and these karmas open up every single day, according to how you have your motivation that day.
So hence if you’ve been always thinking how to cheat people, use people, how to criticise people, say negative things to people because that’s what you’ve been practising, when you wake up, you will think like that immediately so you will open up your negative karma. Your negative karma makes you do more negative things.
Okay? Listen carefully. Negative karma opening that day doesn’t necessarily mean that very day, something bad happens to you. Negative karma means that that day, you will continue doing negative karma until it builds up to something much, much bigger. Example, if you were to lose business, if you have a sponsor, you have a mother and father, or you have somebody…a business partner, that no matter how much you try, if you fail, they help you, while you work very hard while they are around, then if you fail they can still help you. But if you fail when they’re not around anymore – maybe they’re dead – then you just stay a failure. A failure.
So to fail is the same karma. To fail is the same situation but when you fail, timing, also makes a difference in how much problems we create for ourselves. So hence, if that day we engage in negative action and negative karma, that day if we engage in negative karma, maybe that very day there is no obvious negative result. But it builds up. It builds up so it can come to you in a big fat surprise. Big fat surprise. So not experiencing anything that day should not give you courage to do negative things that day. And doing positive things that day should not discourage you not to continue doing your positive actions. Why?
Because that day, you may not be experiencing a direct positive result but it can lead to something of a big bang. A big bang, positive result. So therefore don’t judge things by that day and don’t become discouraged, or give up, or don’t want to do – don’t do that. Why? The results can only come to you, no matter what you think. Whether you believe in a god, whether you believe in a Buddha, whether you’re Hindu, whether you’re Christian, you’re Sikh or you’re Jewish or you’re Buddhist, it doesn’t matter. But one thing is for sure in this world, in this universe, is that whatever you do, eventually it will come back to you. You can call that karma, you can call that a deity controlling you, you can call that God – you can call that whatever you want, it doesn’t really matter. One day, those things will come back to you no matter how comfortable you are. That coming back to you can be loneliness, it can be bitterness, it can be no friends, loss in business, old age, sickness or accidents – it will come back. No way to avoid.
So hence, the chart will be given to all of you, you take it back and study. You take it back and take a good look at it. You came here today…you came here today to learn something, to understand something. You came here for that. So this is what I’m doing for you. I’m explaining to you in very simplistic terms, simplistic terms, the workings of karma and how they are activated. Very simplistic terms. It’s much more complicated than that but it is not necessary for all of you.
So I thought I would share that with you because today is the holy of holy days, for us Buddhists, Lama Tsongkhapa’s Day, the holy of holiest. And I, in fact, wish very much in the future that when we have built TKL, we will have yearly huge Lama Tsongkhapa festivals for everybody to come and celebrate. To celebrate their mother, to celebrate their father, to celebrate themselves, to celebrate their successes, to celebrate to world peace, to celebrate towards spirituality, not necessarily Buddhism. Not necessarily.
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