Snakes, Roosters and Pigs by Tsem Rinpoche
Why are we still unhappy?
We have everything but are still not satisfied. We keep looking and looking and looking for fun, friends, entertainment and places to go. The more we get, the more dissatisfied we feel. All the possessions we have – houses, cars, clothes – are supposed to make us happy, and yet we are still not happy.
Why are we not happy? Because these things are just distractions – one distraction after another. They take us away from the real purpose of why we are here. They take us away from finding who we are.
In ‘Snakes , Roosters and Pigs’, H.E. the 25th Tsem Rinpoche uses Buddhist philosophy and psychology to skilfully guide us in plumbing the depths of our mind to determine who we really are inside, and what is wrong with us. When we are armed with that knowledge, he then guides us to move from this pervasive state of dissatisfaction to a state of stability and peace.
This is a journey of training the mind to move ultimately to that state, where no distraction or anything will disturb it. For this journey, we need a Spiritual Guide. Tsem Rinpoche, who has achieved that mind after lifetimes of vigorous training, guides us in this teaching to reach that ultimate level of an Enlightened Mind. He uses his astute and incisive wisdom to reach out to us at the level where we can relate well to what he says, and find meaning and relevance for us to live our lives well.
What touched me the most in ‘Snakes, Roosters and Pigs’
What touched me most in this book is the extraordinary compassion of Tsem Rinpoche’s Guru, Kensur Rinpoche. I believe that this extraordinary compassion is reflected in the actions and deeds of all great Lamas, including Tsem Rinpoche. Hence, it moves me beyond words how a living Bodhisattva can send waves of blessings and inspiration to all who know him or hear about him.
People from the villages around would come to the monastery and request loans from Kensur Rinpoche for their business. Kensur Rinpoche gives them the money and more often than not, he loses the money and does not get it back. Kensur Rinpoche always said to Tsem Rinpoche, “Never mind, it’s okay.” These villagers came and tricked him over and over again or they thought they had successfully tricked him! A Bodhisattva like Kensur Rinpoche will never refuse anyone, even if they are being tricked. Moreover, even when they have been tricked, they will react differently from how we would react. They react with forgiveness.
By this connection with you – even if it is by a negative association – they have hooked you together with them for the next lives to help you when the time is right. A Bodhisattva thinks like this. They may not be able to do something good with you now so they let you do something bad with them because they believe that this is better than nothing at all. They make the connection for you, for your future lives. Many of these high masters, through their clairvoyance, can look into the future and know that no one else can help you for a long, long time. They will sacrifice themselves to help you so even if they are cheated or if something is taken away from them, they consider it an offering towards your liberation. Advanced and holy beings do know if you are trying to take advantage of or cheat them; they do know it. But they will give in to you and let you have what you want as their offering to you for your liberation!
The Five Things I Learned From ‘Snakes, Roosters and Pigs’
1. Understanding who we are and what is wrong with us – understanding our self-grasping mind and our three root mental delusions
The first step we have to take in this journey of training our mind towards achieving a state of peace and happiness is to understand and accept who we really are, as well as know and accept what is wrong with us and what needs to be improved. This is probably the most difficult part of all for us. In ordinary life, even admitting to making mistakes is itself difficult for us. Nonetheless, we have to face and accept ourselves as we really are, including our faults and weaknesses. We have to accept what needs to be done to remove the causes of our unhappiness and pervasive dissatisfaction that are within us, painful as this may be, just as we have to accept that we need to undergo surgery to remove a malignant growth, as well as accept the inevitable pain that comes with the surgery.
With our self-grasping mind, we create negative karma or the causes for suffering all the time, so that even existing is collecting negative karma.
(i) I’m a good person
We have heard this before – “I don’t drink, I don’t sleep around, I don’t kill, I don’t eat meat and I don’t lie. I don’t do these things and I’m a good person”. To anyone out there who hears this and listens to you, yes, you do sound like a good person. However, to someone with higher knowledge, like our Spiritual Guide, that may not necessarily be the case because what they view and consider as ‘good’ is different to what we think is good.
(ii) You are not? Why not?
Because every day and every minute, you are existing out of your self-grasping mind.
Even doing nothing and sitting there within a mind-frame that is self-grasping, you are collecting negative karma on a very subtle level. This karma creates the causes for negative experiences of unhappiness and suffering for you. So even though you don’t kill, you don’t steal, you don’t lie, and you are just hanging around at home watching television, you still collect negative karma because you are existing out of a self-grasping mind – me, me, me, me. In fact, doing nothing reinforces your self-grasping mind. This is why the Buddha says that the minute you achieve your human body, suffering begins.
(iii) You are your delusions
Happy, sad, lonely, angry, frustrated, depressed…these are all states of our mind. These are the states of mind we experience all the time. If we examine our minds, these states of mind are caused by three basic delusions that are the root cause of our unhappiness and for us to stay in samsara (cyclic existence of suffering). Every day, in fact every minute of each day, there are three delusions raging inside us – hatred, pride or desire and ignorance. These three are represented by the snake, the rooster or chicken and the pig respectively. Because of the countless lifetimes we have been living like this, there are millions of these three animals inside us. Think about it: there are all these chickens, pigs and snakes inside us, making all the noise. Pride, ignorance and hatred screaming at us from the inside.
Suffering arises out of these three root delusions. When, for instance, the object that we hold on to, or we engage with, does not fulfil us in the way that we projected or expected it to, then we will experience unhappiness and suffering. When this happens, it reinforces and increases the three root delusions – desire, hatred, ignorance.
The root delusion is ignorance. Out of ignorance (because of not studying and knowing the Dharma, not knowing the way things really exist and not understanding people), we have a strong sense of “I” or ego, that always tells us to think we are right and everyone else, including our Guru, is wrong! WE always want to be right! This grasping at “I” pervades our mind. This is why every day, we incessantly react to things, people and situations and to all our experiences out of this self-grasping mind.
Because of the three delusions, we are incessantly drawn to actions that we think will benefit us at the expense of harm to others, and we turn away from actions which are ultimately good for us or will benefit others, and which will ultimately benefit us. We are drawn to acquiring things and pursuing activities that we think will benefit us and keep us happy, regardless of whether others are being harmed or hurt in the process. We turn away from the study of Dharma, from meditation and retreats, and from holding our vows which are good for training our mind for peace and happiness. Instead, these three delusions – desire, hatred and ignorance – incessantly tell us to do the opposite of what is really good for us.
We thus exist out of a self-grasping mind, with its three root delusions, all the time, and create negative karma or the causes of suffering all the time.
2. Negative karma and purification of negative karma
(i) Why we must purify negative karma
It’s not that we are bad. It is just that we are programmed or habituated to think that if things don’t go our way, we must act or react in a certain way out of our mind of self-grasping and delusions. Actions and reactions from a self-grasping mind and from our delusions collect negative karma for us. Even doing nothing from this mind collects subtle negative karma.
Hence we are collecting negative karma, every minute of every day. This negative karma will sooner or later manifest for us in the form of obstacles, problems, difficulties and unhappy and sad experiences. Therefore, it stands to reason why we need to purify our negative karma.
(ii) Experiencing negative karma
a) Purifying negative karma by experiencing it with acceptance, patience and compassion
When we practise Dharma, we may experience more difficulties or obstacles. These are actually all our negative karma arising to be purified. Because we are doing Dharma practices, these practices actually protect us. When we are doing Dharma Protector practices, they not only protect us but guide us through until the karma is purified.
When we are practising the Dharma, and bad karma manifests in the form of a difficult experience, we purify the negative karma by accepting the experience (recognising that it is the result of our negative karma) and practising patience and compassion throughout the experience. Once it is purified, and the experience is over, we will not experience it again.
b) Experiencing negative karma and collecting more negative karma
However, if a negative karma manifests, and you react towards it in anger, hatred and with all your negative habituation, and negative karma backing you up, you actually don’t purify that karma. By your negative reaction, you create more negative karma.
Hence people who do not engage in spiritual practices to purify their negative karma, and leave things as they are, and let things manifest on their own, are wrong to say that they are purifying their negative karma and that since it’s all coming out, they’ll be okay. They are not okay. They have not purified the negative karma for that bad experience to arise. Instead, with their habituated negative reaction, they would have created more and more negative karma. Indeed, there are different levels of grasping that allow us to continue collecting negative karma which we may not even be aware of.
Anyway when bad experiences happen, like a relationship breaking up, most of the time, we react negatively. We become depressed and angry and sometimes even contemplate taking our lives.
(c) Purifying negative karma by being reborn in the lower realms?
Negative karma is not purified by your being reborn in the Lower Realms. When you are reborn as an animal, like a snake, you will live out your existence as a snake, killing, eating, stalking and harming. You will be creating more and more negative karma that sinks you lower and lower in samsara. How then can rebirth as an animal, like a snake, be seen as purification of negative karma?
(d) Negative action brings “negative” results!
When you have committed negative acts like cheating and stealing, it is unlikely for you to enjoy the ‘fruit’ of your cheating or your theft. The money you get will create even more negative karma in you to ultimately not enjoy it! More likely the negative karma you have created will, in the future, result in your losing more and more money in some way, or your not getting the money you had expected to get at all!
The karma of cheating a holy and attained being is very heavy. Even though the holy being forgives you easily, you will still have to bear the heavy consequences in the form of tremendous suffering in this or future rebirths.
(iii) The importance of purifying negative karma through purification practices
We have created countless negative karma from countless past lives. The great Buddhist saint, Lama Tsongkhapa did a long retreat to engage in purification practices, during which he did 3.5 million prostrations to the 35 Confessional Buddhas! After that he received direct visions of Manjushri, who told him that he had purified all his negative karma and obscurations.
We can engage in purification practices like prostrations, Vajrasattva meditation with sadhana, and circumambulations around holy sites or Buddha images. When we purify our karma through these practices, we are purifying the karma of that action directly and, with that, we don’t create further karma. In fact, we also gain merit.
When we engage in practices like prostrations to a Buddha statue, we may experience pain or some form of physical suffering. However, this is good for us. This purifies the karma of our body immediately. At the same time we collect merit to support our spiritual practice.
Sometimes, during a long and intensive purification practice or retreat, you may receive direct purification from your Guru in the form of a scolding and the like. He may even ask you to do your whole practice again after you have completed it. He will deliberately create “difficulties” for you as a form of ‘purification’ within that purification practice. This is how your Guru helps you to make the most of your purification retreat so that you get the maximum benefit of purifying your negative karma. You may even get nasty dreams and nasty experiences, and your Guru will be deliberately ugly and mean to you.
The Guru is treating you this way to push you to overcome your negative mind. A retreat is meant to give your negative mind a break – to stop it from thinking negatively.
Purification practices are very important. You purify your negative karma and will not experience it again. You will gain merits and attainments. The merit will help you grow your understanding of the Dharma, your narrowness of mind will open up, you will achieve depth of realisation, your mind will be firmer and more solid. Your compassion and your ability to forgive and other qualities of your mind will arise naturally. Even your diseases will lighten or be cured.
Purification practices will help you clear the inner and outer obstacles to your learning the Dharma and practising it. Dharma is the only means by which you can free yourself ultimately from all unhappiness and suffering. The more purification retreats you do, the more karma is purified.
Do not take the attitude of not wanting to do purification practices and doing nothing about purifying your negative karma. When negative karma manifests, you will, more often than not, react negatively. This is because you are habituated to do and create more negative karma. You are grossly mistaken to think they are automatically purified by your experiencing the bad experience that arises with the manifestation of negative karma.
(iv) Knowing the Dharma and practising it
Listening to the Dharma, studying it and practising it through mind transformation will ultimately lead you to liberation from all unhappiness and suffering. However, your different levels of karma will impact your receptiveness of Dharma teachings, your understanding of them and whether you will be able to put them into practice.
3. Training your mind with Dharma to move from illusion to reality
From a mind that is mired in self-grasping, delusions and negative karma, it is difficult to see life as it truly is and yourself as you truly are. In fact, from our mind of self-grasping, delusions, obscurations and negative habituation, and from our heavy load of negative karma, we are actually seeing life and ourselves as an illusion. Seeing everything in an illusion, but yet to us is so real, leads us to pursue things and activities that, in actual fact, are distractions. These are distractions because they distract us from the true meaning and purpose of life – the pursuit of the truth that will lead us to real happiness.
“I’ve got to survive”
Our being perpetually distracted from the real purpose of life is epitomised in the daily obsession of most people with their frenetic pursuit of careers, wealth, and security because “they have got to survive”! Businessmen and working people (whether their income is $1500 a month or $15,000 a month or whether they have $50mil dollars in the bank) tell you they cannot attend Dharma talks because they have to attend meetings or work late as they have got to survive!
Survival is when the bombs drop around you and your house has been shelled because it is in a war zone! BUT real survival, says Tsem Rinpoche, is when you learn the Dharma and you transform!
“We are scared of being alone”
We go around distracting ourselves 24 hours a day, running after fun, entertainment, food, clothing, relationships, and needing a companion for every meal, because we live in a delusion thinking that we must get away from being alone and being left on our own. After all this running around, chasing one distraction after another, and searching for a good relationship, we end up getting depressed. Our friends, who know no better, believe us and commiserate with us. But when we talk to our Guru, he will tell us the opposite. He will tell us that running around is a distraction because we cannot bear to be alone.
In reality, loneliness is a state of mind; loneliness is not about who we are with or not with. Loneliness is a state of mind where we do not accept who we are inside and what we need to improve. We therefore need to be distracted with other people to make us look away from ourselves.
The Dharma is the precious teachings of Lord Buddha, which shows you how to train your mind and transform it from a self-grasping mind (with all its delusions and negative habituations) to a mind of enlightenment, that is free of karma and delusions, and hence free of any disturbance, distraction or suffering.
The Dharma is the truth that cuts through all your delusions and illusions, and shows you the realities of life and who you truly are. That is why listening to the Dharma, understanding it, applying it by engaging in Dharma practice and transforming your mind is the way to go to achieve liberation and ultimate peace and happiness.
Tsem Rinpoche says that the Dharma may seem harsh but it tells you the truth. It is the only thing that tells you the truth. So we should do something about it! When we let samsaric pursuits push our pursuit of Dharma knowledge to the backseat, and give all kinds of excuses to not even attend a Dharma talk, it shows that we don’t love ourselves that much the right way.
You need a Guru to teach you the Dharma
i) What is a Guru? He or she is someone who shares with you the beautiful, clear, golden unadulterated teachings of Lord Buddha, freely with love and compassionately to you. That is what a Guru is.
The main reason why your Guru is here is to impart the precious teachings of Lord Buddha – the Dharma – with love and compassion. Tsem Rinpoche brings us teachings that come from a pure lineage of unbroken transmissions all the way from Lord Buddha. His teachers were among the great lamas, teachers and scholars of this century, the last of the generation of masters to have been raised and educated in and come directly from Tibet.
ii) The Guru skilfully uses the Dharma to cut through our illusions and delusions so we can see the Truth or Reality.
The main reason why we endlessly chase after the things in this life, which at best only bring temporary happiness, is because we mistake illusions and delusions for reality, and we mistakenly think that the pursuit of distractions is the pursuit of a meaningful and happy life. It is only the Guru that can skilfully use the Dharma to cut through the illusions and delusions so that we can see the truth or the reality.
It is the Guru who points out to us that the things we pursue daily – money, possessions, fun, entertainment, relationships – are all distractions to distract us from the real purpose of life and from who we really are. He tells us that we have to face and accept ourselves for who we really are and go beyond all that to become better people and to live our lives with correct intent and purpose.
Teaching the Dharma to different types of people with different minds
Dharma is so important that compassionate Gurus will teach all kinds of people with different types of minds, and use all kinds of methods to give the Dharma and plant seeds of Enlightenment in their minds.
There are people who will even use the Dharma to get money and respect. They use the holy Dharma to get things from other people. But then again, don’t they also deserve liberation? Don’t they also deserve a chance? Don’t they deserve the Dharma?
Since there are all types of people, there are all types of Gurus and all types of manifestations of the Dharma. Gurus or highly developed people manifest in different ways to go to the level of their students. These highly attained beings act at the level of their students not because they are attached to these attitudes or ways of behaving; they go to their level to be “one of them” so they that are able to teach them and help them transform their minds.
4. Breaking the preconceived and wrong projections of the mind
When you have a fixed perception of how something should be, no other view can enter because you hold on to thinking and feeling that something must be in this way: this person has to be this way or that way. When you have such a fixed perception and you hold on strongly to how things should be, no other information can come through to you. You lose (as you can see from the example below). Your bad experiences arise only from your own wrong projections.
You have been programmed or habituated many lifetimes with this fixed perception and wrong projections of how things should be, and holding on to them. It is the Guru who teaches us that there is no “this way” or “that way”, beginning with our wrong fixed perception and projections of the Guru himself.
Breaking preconceived ideas and wrong projections of your Guru
If you believe your Guru should be this way, act this way, do things this way or that Dharma should be this or that way, you are actually the one who is wrong because there is no “this way” or “that way”. There is only intent that arises from many lifetimes of habituation and practice.
When you know and realise this fully, you will trust the actions your Guru takes in relation to you and all his students. You see his every action as arising from an intent that came from many lifetimes of habituation and practice. Every task he gives you, every teaching you receive from him, every seeming negative action of his towards you is given with an intent (or comes from an intent) that arises from many lifetimes of habituation and practice. This intent has been shaped by the practice of love and compassion for many, many lifetimes.
If John Riley Perks had realised that his Guru, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, had let him go after having him as a personal attendant for seven years, out of his love and compassion and acting from an intent that came from many lifetimes of practice and habituation, he would not have reacted with anger and hurt. This negative response came from his many lifetimes of negative habituation of a fixed preconception and wrong projections of how things should be.
He was reacting from a fixed perception of how his Guru should act. According to this perception, his Guru should treasure him for his devoted service to him and keep him with him. So by asking him to leave, he saw his Guru as behaving in an unfair way to him. So he concluded that his Guru was a monster.
Fortunately, he had merits and had made a good connection to the Guru. Hence, he was able to realise, before it was too late, how kind his Guru had actually been to make him independent. His Guru had taken him in and compassionately trained him for seven years, put the Dharma in his mind and set him free so he could become independent, transform and prepare for his old age. Just as his Guru had wanted him to be, he is now a great Dharma teacher.
Hence, if you believe that your Lama is training you, let him train you. If you fight back, you will keep fighting samsara, life after life after life. Gurus will use unusual methods to train people up. If a student were wise, if a student remembers the pure compassionate motivation of their Guru, a motivation that had been cultivated from many lifetimes of practice and habituation, they will have full faith and confidence and accept and keep quiet. Then they will get the results. We may not see the benefits immediately. But they will come. We cannot give up. We have to persevere like John Riley Perk did.
When we react angrily or negatively to a difficult or challenging situation, the reaction is immediate. This shows that all these negative reactions arise from having preconceived ideas in our minds that have been habituated over many many lifetimes. We need to break the hold that preconceived ideas and wrong projections have on us. We need to rehabituate with the good qualities of compassion, patience, forgiving and the like. Knowing and realising this is the only way we can break our personal samsara and begin to live a life of real meaning, with right intent and purpose.
5. Living our lives well with intent and purpose
(i) Cultivating good intent – it’s not the action that makes something negative, but the intent. The difference between an action that comes from good or positive intent and an action that comes from bad or negative intent
Chogyam Trungpa was known for his consumption of alcohol, with a preference for sake. Is that a negative action? No. What if we do the same? Then our action is negative? Yes. Why is there a difference between us and Chogyam Trungpa? The difference is that Chogyam Trungpa has been practising the Dharma for many, many, many lifetimes and purified so much negative karma, so his seemingly negative action cannot affect him negatively, as they can affect us; at the same time, he does not collect any negative karma. This is because his intent for drinking the sake is very different from our intent. There is a huge difference.
Chogyam Trungpa was a completely unconventional teacher. Why? Because not everybody is conventional and a strict adherent to social norms. There are people out there who engage in sex not for the conventional purpose of procreation, and people out there who sleep with multiple partners. There are people out there who cheat on their partners, break vows of love and break their partners’ hearts. There are people out there who lie and cheat others of their money. There are people out there who go against their parents and even use them for money! There are people out there who are seemingly nice on the outside, but are actually not nice. There are all types of people out there.
Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche recognised that he lived among these unconventional types of people. Simultaneously, he had a very compassionate intent to bring Dharma to them at their level, acted at their level to be “one with them”. So whether he was drinking sake all day long or sleeping with two women at the same time, he was teaching them Dharma and helping them transform their minds. He was planting seeds of Enlightenment in the men with whom he was drinking sake and the women he was sleeping with, and the people there.
When Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche enacts actions similar to ours, which appear negative, the results will be different. This is because where his intent is positive and compassionate, ours are negative and arises from desirous attachment.
With Chogyam Trungpa there was no attachment to the sex or the drinking of the sake. For him, it was more about what the students were attached to at that point in time. Unlike Chogyam Trungpa, if we were to engage in similar acts, with attachment or desire as our motivation or intent, these acts will be negative and we will collect negative karma that will lead us to the lower realms.
People who were Chogyam Trungpa’s contemporaries, who did not understand the intent behind his seemingly crazy actions, have criticised him for being late for teachings and then teaching all night until 6 or 7 the next morning. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, though unconventional in style, was teaching them the concept of non-attachment, and to move beyond the rigidity of timing and how things should be, so necessary to practise for people of this modern age where the prevailing delusion or afflictive emotion is desire.
(ii) Cultivating good positive habituation by holding our vows
a) Good intent must be backed up by good habituation
Intent is important to determine whether the action is positive or negative. However, it is not just the intent but also the habituation from which the intent arises that makes the action positive or negative. With Chogyam Trungpa who had cultivated positive habituations over many lifetimes, whether he slept with two or 500 women, these women would have seeds of Enlightenment planted in them. Hence they would eventually ascend to Vajrayogini Paradise. On the other hand, if, after we have engaged in a lifetime of cheating others, and we suddenly go up to some people, give all our money away to them and say, “I have good intent”, who is going to believe us? Who would believe that our intent is good? We do not have the force of habituation to keep our intent real and alive.
b) We need to cultivate good positive habituation by holding our vows
Hence, habituation is a powerful force and we need to cultivate good positive habituation. Good habituation arises from keeping our vows. Holding our vows well depends on our collection of merits, which is also what ensures our getting higher attainments. At the same time, purification of our negative karma will stop us from breaking our vows. The strength of our purification is dependent on our holding our ethics, morality and vows well. Thus, upholding our vows strongly is important for us to re-habituate our minds with good positive habituation. So if we wish to develop powerful positive habituation, we need to constantly do purification practices so as not to break our vows.
Holding vows does not imprison us. Just think of how Chogyam Trungpa, by holding his vows well over many lifetimes, released himself because he had created the actual causes for himself to enjoy the objects to which he appears to be attached (but actually does not have any attachment to), without collecting negative karma.
c) How we cultivate positive habituation by holding our vows
For instance, when you take the refuge vows before the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, you collect a lot of merits when you hold your vows. Every day that you don’t kill, steal, cheat or lie, etc., you will collect the merit for not doing it. Then you re-habituate yourself not to kill, steal, cheat or lie, etc. until it becomes natural not to do those negative things. At the same time, you collect the merits to support you to re-habituate. So the vows are double-fold in effect.
d) How do you ultimately know if an action is good or not? Results are an indisputable testimony
That actions are good or not can be checked by the results. If people who have been with you are positively impacted by your actions – they are happier, have more positive attitudes towards life and relationships with people, have Dharma knowledge and wisdom – these results show that your actions are good. This is the case with the great master and Guru, Chogyam Trungpa. Despite the controversy created by his unconventional methods, Chogyam Trungpa left a powerful legacy of achievements for the Dharma. The Naropa Institute at Boulder, a world-renowned accredited college, and the Shambala Publications, dedicated to the publication of his works are testimony to his achievements.
Even though his methods are not normal, we have no right to criticise him. He has benefited countless people with his method of teaching and spreading the Dharma. At the heart of it all, he operates from a non-grasping mind.
He is one of many great masters who have attained this Enlightened mind with its habituations of positive qualities of compassion, commitment and wisdom. His works and deeds to teach and spread the Dharma, all stemming from the compassion of a living bodhisattva, are also being enacted by other great Masters and Gurus. One of these is Tsem Rinpoche himself.
When you have a highly attained Spiritual Guide like Tsem Rinpoche who will show you how to cultivate and train your mind to achieve a state of non-grasping, and how to develop good habituations to live your life with right intent and purpose, you should hold him and the Dharma he teaches you with great reverence and devotion. Thus you will have shown that you have learnt to truly love yourself the right way.
Reading ‘Snakes, Roosters and Pigs’ gives you a sense of immediacy, a sense that you are also reading about Tsem Rinpoche, as a Guru, who has used all methods that have to be used to reach out to all types of people at their level. Though he does not use the same unconventional methods as Chogyam Trungpa, his unique multifaceted approach to reach out to people and spread the Dharma can be seen by the world through his blog.
You feel a strong sense of conviction that this teaching of ‘Snakes, Roosters and Pigs’ gives you the know-how to train your self-grasping mind which has been so deeply habituated through many lifetimes to react negatively and spontaneously to situations. In a precise and accessible manner, Tsem Rinpoche details how you can get out of this negative habituation and re-habituate yourself for ultimate peace and happiness. Here is an experienced Spiritual Guide showing you why you must do it and how to do it. He has done it all and has achieved that mind of Enlightenment – a mind of no more self-grasping, no more delusions, no more negative karma, no more disturbance or distraction.
A book I strongly recommend
‘Snakes, Roosters and Pigs’ is a must-read because it helps us to understand how we have been programmed to react from a self-grasping mind, with its three root delusions, every single day. It also shows us how we have been programmed to have fixed preconceived ideas and projections about how things should be. From these preconceived ideas and projections, we are habituated to react mindlessly and immediately in anger and with all kinds of negative reactions, when things don’t happen in the way we expect them to happen. Living out of these negative mind-sets, all our actions and reactions are inevitably motivated by negative intent, which leads to our collecting negative karma.
Next, we are shown how to cultivate a mind that is clear of negative karma (because it is negative karma that creates our unhappiness and suffering). We are also shown how to habituate our mind with positive habituations and develop good qualities like compassion, care, patience and forgiveness. Most of all, the book gives clear insights into how a highly realised Spiritual Guide reaches out with different methods to teach the Dharma to all kinds of people. Whether the recipient is ‘good’ or ‘bad’, they do it because from their compassionate mind, everyone needs the Dharma, to liberate themselves from suffering.
Reading this book and gaining a better understanding of our mind helps us to avoid negative actions because we know they will bring negative consequences – problems, difficulties and suffering.
- On a daily basis, the book makes us aware and watchful of our mind to see when the three poisons of hatred, desire and ignorance arise, and equips us with the tools to avert them. This requires patient practice and training. Nonetheless, if we care for ourselves, we will undertake this training straight-away.
- We will consciously train ourselves to avoid negative actions of body, speech and mind, so as not to create negative karma which will lead to only problems and suffering.
- Whenever a difficult situation or experience arises which brings suffering, as this book has explained, we will practise reminding ourselves that it is a manifestation of our negative karma. Thus, to avoid creating more negative karma, we will train our mind to avoid reacting in anger or complaining and blaming others. If we react instead with compassion and patience, we will also create merits.
- As we have an overwhelming abundance of negative karmic seeds in our mindstream from countless past lives and we don’t know when any one will manifest in the form of a horrendous experience for us, we need to learn up purification practices and practise them daily.
- ‘Snakes, Roosters and Pigs’ shows us how important and beneficial it is to take and hold vows, like the Refuge Vows so as to re-habituate our mind with positive qualities.
- ‘Snakes, Roosters and Pigs’ also shows us how imperative and beneficial it is for us to have a Spiritual Guide (Guru). With a qualified and experienced Guru, we have the benefit of receiving Dharma teachings from him, and his guidance and his training of our mind, using methods that are tailored to our needs.
Some quotes from the book:
THESE THINGS ARE ALL JUST DISTRACTIONS THAT TAKE US AWAY FROM FINDING OUT WHO WE ARE. It’s just one distraction after another, after another. These are all distractions BECAUSE THEY TAKE US FROM THE REAL PURPOSE OF WHY WE ARE HERE.
Loneliness is a state of mind, it is not who you are with or not with. LONELINESS IS A STATE OF MIND WHERE WE DO NOT ACCEPT WHO WE ARE INSIDE AND WHAT WE NEED TO IMPROVE. We therefore need to be distracted with other people to make us look away from ourselves.
Living our lives with Intent and Purpose.
Our PERCEPTION of the object and how it functions and our REACTIONS towards its function is how SUFFERING arises and how our hatred , desire and ignorance increase.
When the object we are engaged with doesn’t fulfil us in the way that we projected or expected it to, OUR SUFFERING arises.
We just always want to be right. We are right, we are right! The Guru is wrong; … Everybody is WRONG and only we are RIGHT – we have the BIGGEST WISDOM.
We are PROGRAMMED to think that if things don’t go our way, we must act or react in a certain way.
Existing out of the self-grasping mind – even existing is collecting negative karma.
About the Book
Author: H.E Tsem Rinpoche
Publisher: Kechara Media and Publications
Paperback: 94 pages
Product dimensions: 13.21cm (H) x 12.7cm (W) x 0.25cm (D)
Available on VajraSecrets
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