Nothing Changes Everything Changes
Dear friends, Yes another transcript has been made of my talks here. I have been told the talk was simple and easy to understand with the meaning easy to grasp. I am glad to hear this. I am sure this talk can help some of us who have this thought that everything is solid and unchanging and this view creates happiness. Or unhappiness?
Or view the video on the server at:
Nothing Changes Everything Changes by Tsem Rinpoche
Everything changes, and at the same time, nothing changes. So what’s wonderful about Buddha’s teachings is that, everything changes. Everything. How we perceive people. How we react to people. How we talk, our emotions, our happiness, our anger, our…our…delusions, our jealousies, our successes, our…our…motivations, our enthusiasm – everything completely changes and yet nothing changes. Why is that? Because spiritual practice is basically hmm…karaseraway…change of attitude. So people who feel tired of spiritual practice, people who feel unenthusiastic towards spiritual practice, people who feel lazy towards spiritual practice, what happens is that most of these type of people don’t find a lot of meaning in their life. They don’t have meaning in their life not because their life does not have meaning; they don’t give their life meaning.
So when we want to give our life meaning – as I have said many, many times in the past – it is not a matter of getting outer needs and wealth. It is not a matter of getting outer necessities. It’s not, it’s not a matter of any of that. Nothing. Nothing at all. It has nothing to do with outer wealth and outer… outer betterment. If it had to do with outer betterment, and inner betterment – inner betterment on just a very gross level – then we will see drastic changes in our lives. So we can see that we usually chase, we chase after one thing after another thing after another thing after another thing, and we just chase and chase and we pursue and we call those goals. And in the process of chasing for those goals, we feel happier. And then once we get the goal, once we get it, we want another goal. We wanna change goals, or we want a higher goal. We want a better goal. We want a different goal. And the whole life is after chasing goals. And so in the process of chasing goals, we lose our time. We lose our youth. We lose our friends. Sometimes we lose our partners. Sometimes we lose our people that are close to us. Sometimes we lose things that really, really matter in our lives. So when we chase after these goals, we have to understand that the goals that we chase after have to be legitimate, that they really do bring about some kind of stable, unchanging – and this is the key word – unchanging happiness.
So what happens is, in spiritual practice, it has everything to do with everything about you changing. And the beauty of it is, nothing changes. Why? In spiritual practice, as you do more and more spiritual practice, real spiritual practice, transformative spiritual practice, you will see your mind become light. You will see your mind become very happy, very bright and you will see that you accept things. Even in the few months that you’re in the Dharma, in this case this spiritual practice, even few days – for some people few days – few weeks, you see your mind expanding. Example, things that you normally would not have been able to tahan, to take, to forebear, you are able to forbear now. Things that you thought, “Oh my god, I will never be able to do that, I will never wanna do that, I’ll never want to be that, this, this,” – whatever and that you have a projection, even one week in the Dharma when you listen to it, with your heart, with your intelligence, you say, “I can bear it.” And what does that indicate to you?
When we open our hearts to the Dharma and we apply it, things that we are not able to do before, we are able to do. Things that we found unbearable, we are able to bear. And what’s the big deal about that? You may think, “Well, I don’t want to bear a lot of things.” It’s not that. When you are cushioned and your life is easy, and you have things taken care of for you, of course it is very easy, but are we sure that it will always be like that? Are we sure? And even if physically we are cushioned, how about mentally? How about mentally, are we cushioned? Because physically, things may not change but mentally, in relationships with people, in finances, in stability, in job, in relationships, in friendships, does it remain stable? If it doesn’t remain stable, outwardly we may have a big house and a big car and everything is nice, and we are very cushioned. You know, we have enough to eat, everything is comfortable, everything’s nice, but inwardly are we cushioned? Inwardly if we’re not cushioned and we’re not ready, the minute someone leaves us, the whole world falls apart. Our whole world falls apart. Our whole reality falls apart. The minute we lose some money, our whole reality falls apart. The minute someone says something to us that we don’t like, our reality falls apart. The minute someone shows us a black face, or an unpleasant word, our reality falls apart. And when our reality falls apart, we affect everybody around us; the way we act, the way we talk, the way we react, we hurt everybody and we damage, and sometimes the damage we do to people around us takes a long time to recover or it never recovers.
So, when we do spiritual practice, it changes our mind, and it changes…how does it change our mind? You don’t, it isn’t…it isn’t that you pray more. It isn’t that you meditate more. It isn’t that you read more. It is a change of attitude. A change of perspective and how we look at things. And how we look at things changes everything round us, and at the same time the beauty of it is nothing changes. Nothing at all. Nothing. Why? We remain as we are, our identity. Male, female, Malaysian, foreigner. You like to eat this food, you like to go to sleep at this time, you like to wear this kind of clothes, you like this kind of fashion – you see, none of that changes but your whole perspective and approach to it completely changes.
Maybe…maybe 20 years ago we will dress…we will dress and look, and do our hair and…and in a way, dress to kill, dress to seduce, dress to get, dress to conquer. But now maybe we’re still dressing to kill, but now it is not to conquer or to seduce. Maybe now it’s to invite or maybe it is to impress people, or maybe is to accomplish something. For example, we could have gone dressed before to look for nice girls in a club. Now we can dress so that we can get a good job so that we can support our families. So dressing is the same! And the whole process of washing and grooming and shampoos and soap and water and toweling and…and cologne and perfume is all exactly the same. The whole process is the same; nothing changes yet what changes is the motivation and the object.
So spiritual practice is the transformation of our perspective and how we look at things. That is spiritual practice. And then hence, the mantras are very powerful, because the mantras are specific words spoken by Lord Buddha’s holy mouth himself, which gather the energies in our body, and the winds to help us, to bring us to this state of perspective that we can change our mind easier. And specific meditation postures, specific mudras, specific exercises – wind, breath, body and mind – that the Buddha has designed for our particular type of people in this world, that help us to achieve that state of mind which is a change of perspective. And that’s what the mantras are all about. And that’s what the sadhanas are all about. And that’s what the meditations are all about. And hence the meditational books, the Dharma books, and the study of the Dharma. The study of the Dharma is not Dharma, praying is not Dharma, altars and making offerings is not Dharma. Hanging around a holy Guru is not Dharma; not hanging around a holy Guru is not not Dharma. Having a great center is not Dharma. What is Dharma? It is the complete turnabout of our attitude and the way we see things and the way we perceive, and everything else is to facilitate that. Why? Nothing changes yet everything changes, and therefore Dharma is pervasive, meaning everywhere. Timeless which is applicable during Buddha’s time and now. Whether you are living in a village during the Buddha’s time with no water, no plumbing, no electricity, no internet, no nothing, just a hut or you’re living in a great house in Bandar Utama with everything, it’s timeless. And at the same time it transcends all races, color, creed, barriers, levels, classes. Why? Because all of us, in our own way create or uncreate our realities and what we perceive.
So therefore a person who is stuck on being happy, that they have everything, that they are happy, they are comfortable, that is their own creation. Because it is their own creation and it is not real, when something happens, their world comes apart. Similarly a person on the opposite end of the spectrum who don’t want to do anything, who absolutely don’t want to do anything with their lives, and they consistently fail and fail and fail and fail, they fail not because of circumstances on the outside or inside. They fail because of their perspective of themselves and the world around them. So what happens is this is that, we listen to Dharma in order to get another perspective, of a person who knows better, of a person who has experienced better, a person who has traversed and passed the difficulties that we have passed. We listen to a person who has more wisdom, who has more skill, and who has a broader spectrum of thought, ideas and methods. We listen to a person who basically is free from wrong perspective, and that person can only be a Buddha. No other being. A Buddha can give us that method, and that way to change our perspective. Therefore, if we listen to the Buddha’s teachings, read the Buddha’s teachings, visually see Buddha such as in images, it can help to transform our mind. But I want to stress as I have always stressed, and all religion and all…all traditions of Buddhism stress, that Buddhistic practice is not Buddhist practice. Or practice is not incense, it is not altars, it is not statues, it is not prostrations, it is not water offerings, it is not it is not doing Dharma work, it is not charity work. It is perspective.
Why? I’ll tell you why. I’ll give you clear example. There are people in Dharma, there are people in Christianity, there are people in…in Hinduism – whatever – who are very mean, who are not nice at all, but they know the rituals, they know how to chant, they attend the classes, they read the books. But when they deal with people, they’re exactly the same as they were the first day when they entered their religion. And then there are people in Dharma, in religion, in every religion that when they enter the Dharma, from one week, the first time that they hear their minister, their pastor, their imam, their Guru, their swami talk about truth, you see their minds transform. Do you know how you see their minds transform? They are able to bear things that are not bearable. They are able to tahan things and put up with things that they ordinarily would not be able to put up with. I think every single person in this room are able to take things that ordinarily they wouldn’t have been able to take. Think about you. Think about yourselves. Okay I hate to use this as an example, but think about the first time you met your teacher and then now. How much were you cajoled, taught, compassionately advised, forced, yelled at, bribed, threatened, blackmailed into doing things now that you wouldn’t have even imagined you’d do. Imagined. Just think about that. And you know what’s beautiful? There is a lot more coming. Isn’t that fabulous? There is a lot more coming. Do you know why? Because you will reach a state where you can take everything. You can perceive everything. You can accept everything and what you give back is not negative energy but positive energy, and that every single person that comes to you will leave you happy.
You watch people. Some people, we go near them, when we leave we’re like (distancing gesture). Some people, we go near them, we go (waving gesture). Some people, we go near them, we feel silly and stupid. Some people, we go near them, we’re serious. Some people, we go near them we’re like, “What’s up?” Some people, we go near them, we don’t know what’s going on. Some people, we go near them, we leave them, we feel very happy. How we leave a person – confused, happy, sad, unhappy – is the state of that person’s mind, and what is their motivation towards you. So if we usually leave a person happy, that person’s mind brings happiness to other people. If we leave a person confused, down, depressed, dour, angry, scared, that’s the kind of feeling we are abiding in our mind.
So if somebody comes near us and after they leave us they are even more confused, we know that we abide in the state of confusion. If we go near someone and we leave them, and we feel like, “What’s up with them?”, you know, you don’t feel so good, you don’t feel motivated anymore…maybe you’re very motivated until you talk to them, and you’re, “Ughhh.” You…you…because why? They bring you down with their energy. Some people, we go near them and after we leave, we feel very angry. We listen to their perspective, we listen to their brain, we listen to how they talk, their views and we go, “Ughhh, why like that?” And some people, we go to them and we leave, we feel happy. Not happy as in just jokes and jokes; happy as in they give us something new to think about, a new way. And then we think, “Oh, I feel happy”.
So just think when we listen to the Dharma even once, when we listen to the Dharma two times, three times, 10 times, 20 times, we will see our mind expand and grow. Definitely. If the Dharma is authentic, the lineage is authentic. The motivation of the teacher and the students both vice v…back and forth are authentic, there will definitely be a transformation of the mind. Definitely. Even some people can come to a Dharma teaching angry and leave released. Some people can come with anxiety and leave released. Some people can come depressed and leave happier. Some people even can come with the mind that’s not sure and they can leave happy. You see, we can’t judge. We can’t judge anybody’s life and we can’t pinpoint anybody’s life. And we can’t say anybody is doing right and wrong. We can’t, but the Buddha can. So if the Buddha can…can’t, why do we take refuge in the Buddha? So some people can very much say, “Oh, you know, you can’t judge me, you can’t judge that person, you can’t judge him, you can’t judge her.” Of course you can, if you reach a certain level of the mind.
So don’t speak for the whole population with your level of the mind. You can’t judge and you’re in darkness but it doesn’t mean everybody else is. So therefore, there are beings out there. So the Dalai Lama comes along and Lama Yeshe comes along, and says to you, “Oh you know, you’re doing this wrong, wrong, wrong, you should do like that and that person do like that,” and you say, “Well you have no right to judge me!” Then who does? I mean it’s not right or wrong, you have to understand that there are level of attainments in people’s lives and their minds. So the Buddha can judge us, but not in a Western, detrimental way. ‘Judging’ is a negative word, but ‘judging’ doesn’t mean judging as in condemnation or condemning. It means a comparison of what we can do and what we are doing. What we can and what we are doing. And that is what our Guru is for. A Guru is there to let us know what we can and cannot do, and to cajole us, to inspire, to help us to do what we are supposed to do. Why? Why else would we seek a Guru? I am sure we don’t seek a Guru to fight with him. I am sure we don’t seek a Guru to debate on and on for the next 20 years about what’s right or wrong, and get nothing out of it. I am sure we didn’t get a Guru to punch…to punch us. I’m sure we didn’t get a Guru to get things out of him. I’m sure we didn’t join our Guru to…to…extort him, or blackmail or cheat or get something. I mean that’s not the reason we get Gurus, we can do that to everybody else in our lives. And maybe we have but that is not what we do to our Guru, why? He can offer us something more exciting. Much more exciting than blackmail and cajoling. What’s that? A new perspective, a fresh perspective, then we go, “Oh!”
So if you think about when you’ve entered and you listen to the holy teachings of Lord Buddha up till now, and if you’ve seen your mind expand and you are able to bear things that you are normally not able to bear, let me tell you, that ability from Day One till now is Dharma. Not other people whether they are practicing Dharma or not. Not your neighbors, not your friends, not anyone, but your ability to tahan – now listen carefully – your ability to tahan people who are not practicing Dharma, who are not doing spiritual practice, who are not good people, your ability to put up with them, happily, continuously, is Dharma. So that’s the secret. Dharma is not you enter a group and everybody is fabulous, and they’re wonderful and everybody is enlightened. No. That’s not Dharma. What is Dharma? Dharma is how much the other person does to you, within and without Dharma, you don’t become discouraged. Do you know why? Because your motivation was never based on them. Your motivation was based for them, not on them, for them. If your motivation is based on them – “oh if they practice, I practice” – then of course your mood will go up and down. If your motivation is for them, then whether they are up or down, you’re up and you want to make them upper, higher. Definitely. So we have to think very, very carefully. When we’re in Dharma the proper motivation is essential from Day One. Why is it essential? Because if you create the motivation “for the sake of others, I will listen to the Dharma. For the sake of others, I will study the Dharma. For the sake of others, I will read the Dharma. For the sake of others, I will meditate and pray. And I will put up with difficulties, for the sake of Dharma” then you know what happens? You don’t become depressed, you don’t become angry and you don’t give up. Why? If we have someone we love very much like our children, a brother or a sister, no matter what they do, do we give up? No. They can do anything, they can take all our money, they can ruin us, they can ruin our reputation, whatever – we never give up on them. I’ll tell you why. Think about it. Because we are doing it for them. We want them to be happy. We want them to have a good life. We want them to have realization.
So if it takes us 30 years to give that realization, even if we die and see them not realized, on our last breath we will advise them, “Take care, or do this, or do that, or don’t let that person cheat you, or don’t go with that nasty girl” or something. We will definitely say, even on our last breath. You know you’ve seen mothers dying, you know, (gasping for air) “Don’t…don’t lose the crops, you know! Don’t forget to water the crops!” and they die. Why is that? Because they have never lived on the basis of you. They have lived FOR you. So when we live for others, or we live on the basis of others, our attitude will be different. So people who get upset easily, or they go into a little Dharma group and they say, “Oh! Those people… those people are all saints and I’m not gonna do it.” You’re not doing it for them! You don’t say, “Oh I quit the group because they are all so wonderful.” Because I’ve heard people like that: “Oh they’re too advanced for me, I’m getting out of here.” And then, I’ve heard people also, “Oh, nobody there practices, I’m getting out of here.” You see, that’s the wrong motive either way, I’ll tell you why. Because you’re not practicing for them – I’m sorry – you’re not practicing on the basis of them. If they’re enlightened, there’s another 5 billion people out there who are not. If they are not enlightened, well join the rest of the other 5 billion people who are not. So our practice is not based on people or group, it is based on compassion for them, for others. So therefore, if we’re not gonna…if they show me…if they shout at me, I shout back at them. If we have that kind of attitude, that’s not a Dharma attitude, I’ll tell you why. It’s not a Dharma attitude because it doesn’t benefit them or benefit us. Very simple.
So when we want to do spiritual practice, it can’t be on the basis of that or on the basis ‘If I have this, if I have that, if I get this, if that person’s like that, if that group is like that’. Some people, when little things happen, they just drop out, they just disappear. They’re just gone. Why? Their practice was not for anyone. It wasn’t even for themselves. It was on the basis of people. Maybe socially they can get together, maybe it was an opportunity, maybe it was for fun, maybe it was for intellectual stimulation, maybe it was just for benefit, maybe it was just for “I don’t know, let’s see what happens.” But people who do Dharma practice not on the basis of, but for, their attitude will be different. The people who do spiritual practice on the basis of FOR others, they will not be disheartened. They can go through tremendous hardship. Tremendous hardship. And they will not be disheartened. They can go through severe beatings, physically and they will not give up the Dharma. As many people in Tibet were tortured, prodded by electricity, raped, emasculated, had their limbs cut off, beaten, for them to give up the Dharma, they would not, they would not. Because they didn’t practice Dharma on the basis of, “Oh if my country is fabulous, and there’s nobody around that’s harming me, I’m going to be happy and practice Buddhism.” No. Because they practice for others so they bore suffering.
Example, when we went to Nepal we met the great Tsawa Phutok Rinpoche who stayed in jail for 20 years, remember? We met him. He stayed in jail for 20 years and he is a high-ranking Rinpoche but he was made to clean the latrines – the toilet – of all the prisoners because of who he was. And he told me he happily did it. I said, “Why?” He says, “Because I can absorb the sufferings of the three precious monasteries.” I said, “What’s that?”…“Gaden, Sera and Drepung.” He says that every single day when he woke up in jail, he prayed, “May the obstacles of the monks and the high lamas and the Dharma to flourish in Gaden, Sera and Drepung, come to me. And every time I get a beating,” which was a lot, “Every time I get scolded and yelled at by the guards, every time I’m cleaning, I’m told to clean the latrine, I will bear it happily because as I do it, I absorb their suffering and I absorb their consequences, and I absorb the obstacles for Dharma and I’m the one doing it.” And he says “That’s why I remain sane, happy, and I recited my mantras.” And he says, “You know there were times that I was caught doing my sadhana and mantras, and I was beaten and punished.” So he says, “I had to do it very skilfully. I had to lay down, pretend I was asleep and learn how to do my mantras and prayers without moving my mouth.” I said, “Did that make you unhappy?” He says, “No, it made it a little difficult but I didn’t become unhappy.” And you can see he wasn’t lying because his face is very bright and very shining and very effervescent. And this is someone who teaches us Dharma by action, by example, not necessarily on the throne.
So when we have a change of attitude, and we do our Dharma on the basis of FOR others, you will not be disappointed. You will not be sad. You will not give up. You will never ever let go and you can bear all difficulties, no matter what is said to you, what is done to you, what happens, even if you have to lose people, even if you have to give up people. Lord Buddha lost his parents. Lord Buddha lost his wife and his child, Rahula, his beautiful son. In ancient Indian tradition, your first son is a very big deal! Very, very big deal, as in the Chinese tradition, very, very big. And for him to lose his son, and lose his beautiful wife Yasodhara, beautiful! She was the fairest in the land and of course how many courtesans can he have? And prestige and power, and money, youth, his beautiful body, his fabulous hair, his great clothes, the elephants, the armies, and all that he stands to inherit from his father…because these days, when we know our parents are rich, we’re sitting there waiting for it, “When? When? When? When are we gonna get it? When? When? When?” And we live our life in such a way, “When? When? When do I get it? When? When?” The minute…the minute when our parents pops off, you know, the traditional mourning, you know – because we get paid for crying because we gonna get inheritance what – 49 days, chop, chop chop, “OM MANI PADME HUM, see you later, hope you take a good rebirth, let’s make a good Buddha statue from KMT, see you later mommy, see you later daddy, can I have the money now?”
And we pay off our bills, and we pay off whatever we want, we get our girlfriend, we get our boyfriend, we go out, we go to Australia, we go to America, we go to New York, we go to Honolulu, we go to wherever we’ve been dying to go – “Thank god somebody died so I can not die waiting to go – and we don’t actually think in that negative way but subconsciously it’s there, why? We have been thinking like that for many lifetimes. We’re dependent on other people. We don’t take responsibility. We want things. So that’s natural; it’s not evil, but it’s natural. All of us in one way or another, all of us has leeched off our parents in one way or another, all of us. So, like that, every single person has been our parent, and every single person will be our parent again. And we need to repay the kindness of our parents in this life, past lives and future lives. Why? Who is more equal kind to us? The parents from our previous life, current life, or the next life? It’s equal, isn’t it?
So how do we repay them back? By changing our attitude. How do we change our attitude? By doing things for others. How does that repay their kindness? Because we collect great amounts of merit and we don’t collect negative karma, and we can dedicate that merit to all mother sentient beings, and therefore we repay their kindness. Oh yes. Every time we are aware we repay their kindness. Every time we hold our anger and we reduce it, we repay their kindness. Everybody’s kindness. Yes. Yes. Melvin was my mother once. Yes. Yes. Zahir was my mother once. A long, long time ago, I can’t remember anymore, it was very traumatic. Yes, a long time ago. Milly was my mother once! Can you believe that? I came out of Milly and she fed me, and that time I am sure they didn’t have bottle feeding. Oh. Milly was my mother once. And…and just visualize this one! Fat Monk was my mother once! Fat Monk! Monk Fat! Fat Monk, FM, was my mother! I suckled Fat Monk’s breasts once and he changed my diapers, and cleaned my…my lower parts. Fat Monk was my mother once. So I owe Fat Monk something. I owe everybody something. And therefore when we practice Dharma, we practice for others. When you have that attitude “It’s for others”, you will never give up. And do you know what? You will not give up others as if you don’t give up on your children, on your boyfriend, on your girlfriend, on your wife, on your parents.
You will not give up. I’ll tell you why. A growing sense of universal responsibility opens up in your mind. Universal responsibility. And that is, “I will bring happiness to everyone who comes to me. And whatever method I employ, whatever I have to give up, whatever I have to sacrifice more, others are more important than me.” Universal responsibility, and that’s really wonderful. So the purpose of our center has always been, is and always will be to help people get knowledge to change their perspective. And whether they are Buddhist or not, it doesn’t really matter…but to change their perspective because then suffering becomes less. So hence, for all of us to be motivated to read our little Dharma books and watch our little Dharma CDs, it’s a little difficult because for every single lifetime we have been having a great time partying. And all of a sudden someone comes along and says, “What are you gonna do when the party stops?” It’s a little difficult to stop and just get off the turnstile or just get off the podium and start meditating. So that’s why we have a little Dharma center, we have a little half-past six Guru from Tibet who gently motivates us to study the Dharma, gently.
What are you smirking at? You want a slap? When I said, “Gently”, Zahir is like (smirking). You’re being filmed Zahir, filmed. This is going to be televised all over the world, alright? You know how many millions of viewers in the future will be seeing this and your smirk? They’re gonna say, “That one out! Bad Guru devotion example! Out!” and you know what they’re gonna do? They’re gonna see everybody’s face but yours is like digitally um, blocked. Would you like that? And they are gonna have to double the digital, because your nose is a little long.
So we need to do Dharma for others. For others. Please remember that. And so, you don’t comp…when you do Dharma for others, you don’t say, “Oh they did that to me, that’s why I’m not doing it anymore.”…“They said that to me, that’s why I am not doing it anymore.”…”I went there and Wan gave me a black face, I am not doing this anymore.”…”I went to KMT and guess what? Someone…somebody was rude to me. I am not going there anymore.”…”Oh, they’re not organized, they’re not …they are not ready. They don’t have money, they don’t have a system, they’re mean, they’re rude.” We all complain about that! Yeah! Welcome to samsara! “And therefore I’m not going to practice” – silly! Silly. Because you ain’t gonna find any place that has perfect practice, anywhere. But if we change our attitude, everything becomes perfect, I’ll tell you why. Because everything that we encounter becomes practice. Everything we encounter becomes practice. And that’s why for Dharma practitioners like us who really, really want to make a difference in our lives and the lives of others, we will thrive on confusion, thrive on anger, thrive on mischief, thrive on nasty people, thrive on weirdos, thrive on people who are just totally out of it and that just test your patience at the end – we will thrive on them. Do you know why? Because they don’t disturb you. Just think – before Dharma and after, how much you can tahan from people? Maybe before Dharma, if someone did something to you, you’d wallop them, you’d slap them silly, catch them in a parking lot somewhere and slap the crap out of them. But after Dharma, you visualize slapping them; you don’t slap them anymore, you just visualize. Then after a few more years in Dharma, you don’t even visualize. You think, “Oh, poor thing.” Oh yes.
So with Dharma, you know what happens? You know what is Dharma? Dharma is very beautiful. It’s to protect us. Protect us from what? Doing more actions that harm. So the more difficulties we have, the more we have an opportunity to absorb and transform. And when we take refuge in the holy Three Jewels, we are acknowledging to Lord Buddha, “I will absorb other people’s sufferings. Everyone’s. I will take other people’s suffering. I’m happy to take it. And along the way I may fall down but I will stand up again. I will fall down and I will stand up again. But the point is I stand up.” That is what happens when we take refuge. So that’s very, very important.
I am very, very happy to have these little classes because I enjoy very much sharing the Dharma with people. That’s actually my passion besides reading Dharma and videos and going to sleep early. My passion is Dharma and elucidating Dharma. I don’t think of myself as a great Dharma teacher. What I think of it is this, is that for some reason I have some retentive ability of Dharma, I can remember Dharma quite clearly and well, and from many Gurus and Lamas. And I would love to convey this to all of you because all of you haven’t had the fortune yet to meet these lamas, or probably never will because some of them had passed away. So I’m able to do that and I enjoy it. I enjoy it. I don’t know how to say – I not only look forward to things like this, I enjoy it, I thrive on it and I feel like I’ve done something good with my life after I have finished. When I go home from a Dharma talk, I actually sit there very high and very happy for many days and I will talk about it with a few people around me, a few people who force me to have my foot massaged. You know I’m forced. They’re like, “Please can we make merit and massage your foot?” I’m like, “Ah, oh alright, here.”
So what happens is I’m on a high, do you know why? Because I did something good with my life. I listened to the Dharma, I absorbed some of it, and I retained and I’m able to share it with others. And I feel really good, and I feel really high. I…I…Nothing else makes me more higher. And therefore doing VCDs and tapes and having a center and Dame Khang and all this, it’s an extension of that. So I am happy to be recorded and taped and then distributed, and encourage this in the writer’s group because I want the Dharma to go on. I am not trying to be a star for the sake of a star, because if I wanted to be a star there are other ways to be a star, there’s much, much better ways. Much, much faster and easier ways. Much, much better and I would have done it 20 years ago, you know, when things were not prone to gravity, that’s all I can say. So my point is…so me wanting video tapes and VCDs and people and Dharma centers, and also our outlets – KMT and DMT and KP – is an extension of this passion to bring Dharma to others, in any way, shape, or form, writing, visuals, verbal, speech. It’s a passion to bring Dharma to others. And then when I talk to other people and when they do this, I feel passionate to talk to people who are passionate about that. Do you know why? I’ll tell you why. Not because we share the same dream. Because I admire that you also have compassion, that all of you have compassion. And I can draw inspiration from this compassion, that when we do Dharma work, we work very hard and we don’t give up and we really pursue because we have compassion for others.
So for even one person, I can become sick or whatever, talk to them, advice – it doesn’t really matter – or give or help, why? Because if that person can convey the Dharma to other people in some way, then my passion is fulfilled. That’s my passion. And therefore hence all the stores and the expansions, and even this furniture, are an extension of this because if people see this, they’ll get attracted by this appearance. They come in, they want to know more, they learn about more, they ask more, and then they want to learn Dharma more and they transform. All this is for Dharma! Why else? Why else? Even when I saw the Heruka statues, the one without the flame, I flip my lid. It was like…I felt like an emperor going there picking a courtesan and putting a red lantern – “I want him in my room tonight.” Last night, Heruka was brought to my place and spent the night with me. I took pictures of him the whole night and I MMSed it to people. And today he was sent back again because I’m done with him. And I want to fly to Nepal and I want to go buy, you know, a hundred more Herukas and bring it because I know the benefit and it’s my passion.
But if you tell me to fly somewhere else and do something else I’ll be very hesitant. It will take me many years and effort to go because, well I don’t know, maybe it’s not in me. But the whole purpose of these gatherings and the whole purpose of getting together is to learn to do things for others, to change our perspective, to widen. That’s the whole point. And that’s why I’m very excited to do things like that. And I’m very excited to have people join all of us to do things like that. And I would like people who are effervescent, enthusiastic, and really like to do, and really take their own share and take their responsibility, and don’t need to be pushed and prodded to do. Do you know why? When you’re not pushed and prodded to do things, and you do things and you do it well, you know what it is? You’re compassionate and you want to repay kindness. When you have to be pushed and prodded, you have to be forced, it’s a clear indication that you’re not very compassionate, and you have to become compassionate because compassion begets compassion. It’s very simple. And if you make excuses for not learning the Dharma or doing the Dharma, for any reasons – valid, somebody was nasty to you, whatever – also is not very good because, then you’re doing Dharma on the basis of something, not for something.
There is a big difference when you do it for. And for the Dharma…for the Dharma…it says in the 50 Verses of Guru Devotion, Gurupancasika – all of us should read that, especially if we’ve taken refuge – “For my Guru, I can even give up my wife, my kids, my wealth. I can give up everything.” You read that. That’s not made up by crazy Tsem Rinpoche. I dare not. Imagine me asking somebody, “Oh don’t…don’t…don’t have a wife, don’t have a girlfriend. Do Dharma.” Oh I’ll get slapped silly! I gotta look outside for booby-traps, they’ll get me. Yeah, there’ll be a permanent Buddhist Jihad on me. I know everybody’s gonna get me; everywhere I go, everybody’s gonna be there. Forget about telling them to give up their wife and stuff. I just say, “Can you give up one night a week to listen to the Dharma, maybe four hours?”…“OHHHH!!” Oh my god! To drag them here, to beg them, go there and drag them, cudgel them – like Kalarupa has a cudgel – cudgel them, knock them out, bag them and drag them here and have them sit here, and then give them jokes and give them fun, give them coffee, give them air-cond, give them a nice room, give them a painted place, beautiful altars – give them all these for them to come to listen to the Dharma, you have to drag them. They’re heavier than a corpse. At least corpses, you just drag them. They? They hold on you know, they don’t want to let go. Oh yes, it’s very hard.
And that’s what a smuru or a real Guru have to go through to bring people to the Dharma. It is a monumental effort, and even for one person. And then you multiply that. Because each one of us, we have 108 reasons to kill our Guru, to get him. So imagine if our Guru says, “Do you think you can go vegetarian for one week?” and then he got to duck you know, oh my god, because you throw a lamb chop at him. “I’m not gonna be no vegetarian! I’ve been eating meat my whole life!” Then if he says, if your Guru says, “Do you think you can drive beyond 10 minutes to get to Dharma?”…“But I live in Sharm, Egypt! And it takes me five hours to drive there and I’m not going there!” And then some people are like, “But I didn’t eat din din! I can’t go to the Dharma talk, I didn’t eat din din!” Oh my god! Or some people, “I think tonight I’m gonna get laid.” And then there are some people, “Oh but I’m…I’m sleepy.” Or some of them, you know, they profess they have bird flu. They go, “Achoo I have bird flu and I can’t make it.” I’m like, “What?” Why? Because they looked at a map of China so they were, you know, they got bird flu. I’m like, “Oh yeah that makes a lot of sense!” And there are other people, “Well, there’s someone in the Dharma talk that I don’t like and they disturb my mind so I’m not going.” Oh god, so many excuses!
So imagine a Guru ask you to come to the Dharma talk, you know how much effort it is on his part? Because he’s asking for it, and that’s just you! One! Imagine you multiply that when you have Dharma talk, how many people he has to deal with, how many SMSes and messages that he has to deal with, to the excuses, and that’s just to help them. And that’s just small things you know, skip din din, be a little late, be a little sleepy, maybe your lover screams at you, whatever, but oh heaven forbid – heaven forbid – if you ask them to give up their wife or their…their husband for the Dharma, oh my god! Oh my god! They’re gonna be wearing, “I love Osama bin Laden and Tsem Rinpoche t-shirts” and you know what that means. They’re gonna come look for me! The irony of “I love Osama bin Laden” T-shirts you know, is everybody hates him but they wear it just to taunt him. Couldn’t you see? Next year you’re gonna see me in trial, somewhere in America and I’m gonna be like Saddam Hussein, I was pulled out of a cave and I’ve got…and I’m overgrown in beard and hair, I’m like all dishevelled, and you know, “He made me study the Dharma! He did!” And all of you will be in the witness stand: “Yes! He made me study the Lamrim!” And then flying Lamrim! Oh. And then the judge of course is Henry sitting there going, “Order in the court! There will be no more throwing Lamrim books at the defendant.” Can you imagine that?
Can you imagine the Guru dare telling them to live their life differently? If I tell a student to live their life differently, do you know how much reaction I get back that is negative? If I tell them that they might be wrong, oh! They’re already like, you know, they take the noose and they wave it at me. Because I know what’s gonna happen to me when I go for…for the little boy’’ room. “Rinpoche found dead in toilet.” Can you imagine that? Imagine if I ask people to change their life, skip din din, transform themselves, give up something.…and you know what? I wouldn’t dare ask for anything like that, no way. None of us are at that level. If we were at that level, we wouldn’t have to give up our wives and husbands anyways. We would have no attachment; we can be without attachment and happy. Oh no, no way I would dare do that. No way, um um um, uh uh uh.
And these days…see during Buddha’s times, the Gurus walked around and the students tiptoed around him. These days the Guru’s got to tiptoe around the Guru, Bo, the Guru’s got to tiptoe around the student. Can you imagine the tiptoe? Can you imagine his toes like Baryshnikov, you know, always on like ballet time? I went to see the podiatrist today by the way. Oh yes. And then if you ask someone, and you try to ask them, “Can you pleaaaaase SMS me back the result? Pleaseeeee? I’ll give you Coffee Bean, money and I’ll be nice to you, and uh, you get to go home early and uh you know?” Oh no, no no no no no.
To ask someone to do something…something for you, no, it’s a big no-no. So if you tell them to change their lifestyle, if you tell them to do something wrong according to the Dharma – the yardstick of Dharma – you’ll get it, you’ll get it. Never mind asking them to sacrifice things that will bring them more harm. Even when you can see clearly by logic, or sometimes by divination, and sometimes by Dharma, you can see clearly they’re going the wrong direction and if you tell them something, they will think of 108 ways to justify what they’re doing back to you. And they will get you. And they will justify to people around you, and they will keep talking and talking and bitching and complaining. Do you know why? Because they are not doing things for others, they are doing things on the basis of others. “If I get this, if I get that, if I get this, if I get that, then I’ll do this.” Then therefore, it does not constitute Dharma practice. Why? There is no transformation.
So those types of people, they are not bad but when something happens, they will suffer tremendously. Why will they suffer tremendously? Because they didn’t do Dharma for others, they did it on the basis of others. Big difference, big difference. None of us can check what we are doing and compare and judge other people’s lives, but we definitely can set them in the right direction. Because ‘judge’ or ‘set them in the right direction’ is just different words. Otherwise there will be no Buddha. There will be no Gurus, there will be no enlightened Being, and there will be no attainments. That was to say that no one has attainments on this planet. No one. Then why have a Guru? Why? Why prostrate to a Guru who knows less than you? No. Wrong attitude. So the purpose of Dharma talks and this class, let me tell you why, is that we can get Dharma knowledge to change nothing, yet everything. And hence, we have these classes. I enjoy it, I look forward to it, and look at the beautiful place and look how comfortable and nice it is. You know for us, our group, always something nice manifests, a nice center, a nice place – everything manifests to receive the Dharma.
So today, I want to give you that motivational talk, I want you to have a fabulous motivation to do today’s test because there is no failing and there is no winning. Read it, think about it, and write from your heart and afterwards we have a discussion. It is to learn. And don’t look at…don’t ask this person, don’t ask that person because if you ask, what’s the point? There is no point. So what we gonna do is we’re gonna go through each question individually so that everybody, whatever language you speak, smermin, smimaise, smantonese, smandarin, whatever it is – we can translate into 40 languages, you know, UN here – so that you understand, so that during the test we don’t have people, “Ashuachifoshua foshfo foshua?” Do you know what I mean? And it is very interruptive because there is 20 people trying to write and there’s, “Ashuachifoshua foshfo foshua.” And we just ask, “No cheating!” …”I’m not cheating! I don’t oonderstand!” Oh my god.
So we’re gonna go over the questions first, and then we have people like, when we’re just about to write our answers, then we, “Ching chang chang ching chang chang?” And then you ask, “Hey ching ching, what’s wrong with your chang chang? I don’t chung chung.” Ohhhh. And it just gets on your nerves and just when you’re about to write the answer, you hear someone go, “Wahiwuahua wawuwakuakua” And then by the time they finish translating, you forgot what you wanna write and then you want to strangle that person. But of course it’s out of compassion you want to strangle them so that they don’t have other people strangle them, right?
So that’s what we’re gonna do, we’re gonna go over that. But before we do that, what’s beautiful is, these are the questions and they’re very fun and they’re very easy. We’re gonna write it down in a separate piece of paper… see Melvin can’t let go of his pen. He’s dying, he’s like, “C’mon! Let me write that paper hurry up! I’m so excited, I’m gonna write double, I’m gonna write triple!” And we’ll have one hour to do it and while you’re doing it, Rinpoche’s gonna sit here in deep samadhi meditation with a stick. And then before we start our test, we’re gonna do a little prayer to Buddha Shakyamuni, why? This is a Dharma activity. It’s not a test. We’re gonna do a little prayer to Lord Buddha Shakyamuni and we’re gonna ask him to bless our minds, to open it up that the Dharma can enter. And then we’ll do his mantra 21 times afterwards. And then after we do the prayer to Buddha Shakyamuni, we’re gonna do his mantra. After we do his holy mantra – how lucky we are, how lucky – then we’re going to elucidate on the questions. Then one hour…after that, we’re gonna do a discussion and we’re going to get out of here because there are a lot of Cinderellas here. A lot. And some Cinderellas make it late to the ball. But we won’t mention any names, will we? But I’ll give you a hint. Their name is Zahir! Sure is rude! Do you think that hint was a little too subtle? Oh god, I tell ya. And some more, some people on the way here, late, will not SMS or inform the smuru because he’s just a doormat. When we call up it will go straight to message. And then they will give you some lame excuse that their battery is out. Oh my god! Yes I’ve heard it all. Alright…[49.25 – video cuts]…traffic, timing, work, I understand. And you know what, it’s so weird because you’re probably thinking, “Your karma came back to you, you’re perpetually late, you’ve been late all your life.” I know, I know. I was sitting there in my room thinking, “Okay, I’ll absorb it because it’s my karma coming back to me, I’m perpetually late.” So this time they’re late, they got me back. We’re even-steven okay? No more revenge tactics, thankyouverymuch.
So everybody will get one wonderful sheet here, how exciting, and let’s do a prayer together then we elucidate the questions, then we write it. This is really fun, really, really exciting and fun, alright? Ufakaze? Here this ufakaze pass out here, Smelvinkaze you pass out that side. Ooh, okay.
[prayer to Buddha Shakyamuni begins] A daily prayer for blessings, protection and auspiciousness. Praise to Buddha Shakyamuni, let’s read together.
PRAISE TO BUDDHA SHAKYAMUNI
O Blessed One, Shakyamuni Buddha,
Precious treasury of compassion,
Bestower of supreme inner peace,
You, who love all beings without exception,
Are the source of happiness and goodness;
And you guide us to the liberating path.
Your body is a wishfulfilling jewel,
Your speech is supreme, purifying nectar,
And your mind is refuge for all living beings.
With folded hands I turn to you,
Supreme unchanging friend,
I request from the depths of my heart:
Please give me the light of your wisdom
To dispel the darkness of my mind
And to heal my mental continuum.
Please nourish me with your goodness,
That I in turn may nourish all beings
With an unceasing banquet of delight.
Through your compassionate intention,
Your blessings and virtuous deeds,
And my strong wish to rely upon you,
May all suffering quickly cease
And all happiness and joy be fulfilled;
And may holy Dharma flourish for evermore.
TAYATA OM MUNI MUNI MAHA MUNI SHAKYAMUNI YE SOHA (21x)
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