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Posts Tagged "lama yeshe"
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“I see that Western people are getting busier and busier, more and more restless,” Lama Yeshe said in Becoming Your Own Therapist. ”I’m not criticizing material or technological development as such, but rather the uncontrolled mind. Because you don’t know who or what you are, you spend your life blindly grasping at what I call ‘supermarket goodness.’ You agitate your own life; you make yourself restless. Instead of integrating your life, you splinter it. Check up for yourself. I’m not putting you down. In fact, Buddhism doesn’t allow us to dogmatically put down anybody else’s way of life. All I’m trying to suggest is that you consider looking at things another way.”
Mandala brings you news of Lama Zopa Rinpoche and of activities, teachings and events from over 160 FPMT centers, projects and services around the globe. If you like what you read on Mandala, consider becoming a Friend of FPMT, which supports our work.
“Lama Zopa: I found a note from Lama Yeshe saying ‘the real learned wise person is one who is truly humble.’”
A quotation from Ven. Roger Kunsang’s Twitter page, posted on May 9, 2014, at the Light of the Path retreat. You can watch Rinpoche’s teachings at Light of the Path online.
Ven. Roger Kunsang, Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s assistant and CEO of FPMT Inc., shares Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s recent pith sayings on Ven. Roger’s Twitter page. (You can also read them on Ven. Roger’s Facebook page.)
More information, photos and updates about FPMT spiritual director Lama Zopa Rinpoche can be found on Rinpoche’s homepage. If you’d like to receive news of Lama Zopa Rinpoche via email, sign up to Lama Zopa Rinpoche News.
By Lama Yeshe
Meditation is very simple. When hearing about meditation for the first time, you might think, “That must be very special; meditation couldn’t be for me but only for special people.” This just creates a gap between you and meditation.
Actually, watching television, which we all do, is a bit like meditating. When you watch television, you watch what’s happening on the screen; when you meditate, you watch what’s happening on the inner screen of your mind – where you can see all your good qualities, but all your inner garbage as well. That’s why meditation is simple.
The difference, however, is that through meditation you learn about the nature of your mind rather than the sense world of desire and attachment. Why is this important? We think that worldly things are very useful, but the enjoyment they bring is minimal and transient. Meditation, on the other hand, has so much more to offer – joy, understanding, higher communication and control. Control here does not mean that you are controlled by somebody else but rather by your own understanding knowledge-wisdom, which is a totally peaceful and joyful experience. Thus, meditation is very useful.
Also, if you exaggerate the value of external objects, thinking that they are the most important things in life, you ignore your inner beauty and internal joyful energy; if you look only outside of yourself, you neglect your most precious human qualities – your intellect and your potential to communicate in higher ways. Thus, meditation shows you clean clear which objects of attachment confuse you and with which kinds of mind you relate to them.
Furthermore, meditation is a very quick method of discovering the nature of reality. It’s just like a computer. Computers can check many things extremely quickly, put them together and all of a sudden, pow! – we’re on the moon. Similarly, meditation can quickly make things clean clear, but we don’t have to go to the trouble of learning by trial and error through laboratory experiments. Many people seem to think that making mistakes is a very important part of learning. My point of view is that this is a misconception. “To learn the reality of misery, you have miserable experiences” – I say that this is not so. Through meditation we can learn things clean clear, without having to experience them.
Thus, meditation does not mean the study of Buddhism philosophy and doctrine. It is learning about our own nature: what we are and how we exist. …
“If you’re not tested, you take teaching after teaching and think you’re OK, but when you’re confronted with a difficult situation, it’s possible that you’ll find you’re not OK at all. So that’s why true Dharma practitioners welcome trouble. It gives them a chance to see if what they’ve been studying works or not, a chance to transform suffering into happiness. Otherwise you just go blithely along, completely out of touch with reality, thinking you’re OK when you’re not, because you haven’t actually been practicing Dharma at all.”
“Now, this is very important: when we start by focusing on the essence of thought, or consciousness, which is formless and colorless, like space, we give ourselves access to recognizing the way our ego interprets our self, or I. When we investigate that further, we come to the conclusion that there’s no such self. It’s a big zero, and that is the universal truth of emptiness, or nonduality. Our ego’s interpretation, our concrete conception, of the I, which appears to be indestructible in nature, is false. It’s a wrong view. When you think, ‘I want to be happy; I don’t want to suffer,’ ask yourself the question, ‘Where is that I?’ Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, ask yourself that question.”
– Lama Yeshe, from “Ground Zero: Emptiness as the Basis for Deity Yoga” on the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive
DEATH AND DYING
Some twenty minutes before dawn on the first day of the Tibetan New Year – March 3, 1984 – the heart of Lama Thubten Yeshe stopped beating. He was forty-nine years old.
Lama had been seriously ill for four months, although according to Western medical reports since 1974, it was a miracle that he was alive at all. Two valves in his heart were faulty and because of the enormous amount of extra work it had to do to pump blood, it had enlarged to about twice its normal size. And he himself had said ten years before that he was alive “only through the power of mantra.” By November 1983 it was obvious that his life was in serious danger.
Yet in that last year he found the time to write a letter to Geshe Wangdu, a highly-accomplished Dharamsala scholar and yogi, and a close friend of Lama Yeshe. It may well have been the last letter he was ever able to write …
Mindful of our root guru unequaled in kindness, king of great bliss, Heruka of the body mandala, crown ornament of the holders of the practice lineage of Ganden, I here pay homage to Trijang Dorje Chang, and in doing so reply to your series of advice, my spiritual brother, Ven. Jampa Wangdu, which you sent with such great affection. I will avoid exaggerations and will write a reply reflecting the nature of illusion-like dependent arising.
Due to my right and left channels being filled with the violent movement of thought-winds and overflowing out of control beyond the capacity of which my ordinary heart can cope, and in order to safeguard myself from this, I was forced to place this “difficult to find body of leisure and endowments” in the hands of a strange doctor. Upon examining me for half an hour, he advised that I must definitely go into the intensive-care unit of the hospital. Believing that this was the case, I asked him to protect my life. Never have I known the experiences and sufferings that then followed.
First, unending injections throughout the day and night. Second, because the capacity of my heart to pump oxygen was impaired, in order to breathe I used an oxygen tank from which a rubber tube ran to my nose. This was never disconnected and caused me great discomfort. Third, I had to constantly take medicine day and night, sometimes
more than ten pills at a time. Due to this medication my mind was powerlessly overcome with pain every two hours and my memory degenerated. Food lost its taste, I was given only salt-less, Indian-style food, I had no appetite for more than a month, and whatever food I did eat I threw up and suffered. Some days I could not do my commitments. …
It’s 1977, the firstyear that the Lamas did not spend Losar at Kopan, celebrating it instead with forty students at Geshe Sopa’s house in Wisconsin. USA. On March 3, lama Yeshe held a Question and answer session before leaving for Southern California where a course was to begin the very next day. There was no rest, no pause. Travel was expensive, and there were people everywhere depending on him. In turn, Lama Yeshe depended on Peter Kedge to keep the show on the road. Adele Hulse’s recounting of the life and times of Lama Thubten Yeshe continues …
One hundred people enrolled in Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s two-week lam-rim course at the Institute for Mental Physics in Yucca Valley, east of Los Angeles. Lama Yeshe gave a couple of talks Among those meeting him for the first time was Jacie Keeley.
“He looked very sick, all soft and squishy, and his skin was a yellow-grey putty color,” said Jacie. “This grey little man walked into the big room, climbed up on this huge throne and sat in meditation. By the time he spoke he was big, golden, and powerful. I was impressed. I wore dark glasses to every talk Lama gave because I cried through every one. On my twenty-eighth birthday I went to Lama, told him I wanted to follow the Bodhisattva path and was willing to help him in any way. I was absolutely hooked.”
It was also Janet Brooke’s first course. “I was raised a Mormon and was ultra-Christian in outlook. At first, everything the Lamas said reinforced my heartfelt beliefs, but one morning Rinpoche was talking about taking responsibility for ourselves rather than leaving it all to God. Suddenly I felt very confused, started crying and left the room. After attending a group interview with Lama Yeshe I realized it was merely a matter of terminology, and at the end of the course felt perfectly comfortable about taking refuge,” said Janet.
Listening to the lam-rim teachings and just being with the Lamas changed some people’s lives. One man put his will in order before coming to the course, and found many other students had done the same, sensing that their lives would change forever. During this course someone took a video of the Lamas walking up the trail to the gompa. A great hawk circled above them landing on a branch just beside Lama Yeshe. He walked right over to it and held up his hand. The bird didn’t move a muscle. “Power and magic!” exclaimed the devotees of [Mesoamerican shaman] Carlos Casteneda.
The second half of the month in Yucca Valley was devoted to a Vajrapani retreat for which one hundred and forty enrolled. Lama Yeshe delayed the initiation by one day for the sake of a student who was late. …
The idea of establishing a center in California arose during the Yucca Valley course held in March 1977. Janet and Ross Brooke, who were both present at that course, owned two parcels of land in partnership with their friends, James and Miriam Kent, Toni Post, and Harriet Heywood. Deep in the Redwood forest, behind the town of Boulder Creek near Santa Cruz, one piece of the land was fifty acres, the other thirty acres. They asked their partners how they felt about donating their shared investment in the thirty-acre piece and they agreed immediately. It was an extraordinary gesture from a group who were all disciples of Baba Mukhtananda – only the Brookes ever became Buddhists – that led to the future Vajrapani Institute Adele Hulse’s recounting of the life and times of Lama Thubten Yeshe continues …
The land was offered before the end of the course and the students formed an organization to assume the remainder of the mortgage.
Robbie Solick rented a big American car for Lama and together with Anila Ann, who had recently returned from Australia, they drove to Boulder Creek with a small convoy of students to inspect the site. “I’d gotten to the point where every button of my North American automobile-scare lifetime of experience was being pushed by Lama’s driving and my hair was practically standing on end,” said Anila Ann. Miraculously, the party arrived in one piece, and after booking into a motel they braved the equally perilous drive along a barely existing track to the land itself. “Oh dear, this is my interpretation of jungle,” Lama Yeshe said as he walked around.
The indomitable Anila Ann once again volunteered to be the pioneer nun at the new center. Lama asked where the boundary line was, and went running up to the highest point on a steep ridge. The land was almost vertical in parts. Then and there, Lama gave a teaching in a small Redwood grove on the property.
“I was trying to find out where he wanted the gompa built,” Ann said. “Lama insisted we start planting things right away. He wanted lots of flower gardens and tended pathways built where people could do walking meditation. His final judgment on the place was that it would make a good retreat center, but not a main center,” she said.
Gripped by the pioneering spirit, a bunch of students hastened to set up camp in this majestic Redwood forest. Among those prepared to forego all manner of comforts to labor in the wilds were John and Elaine Jackson. They sold their home, and with their children, aged five and two, set about building a new life on this rugged, uncleared land. Anila Ann, the Brookes, John McKay, Chuck Thomas, Tom Waggoner, Jacie Keeley, and five others followed suit.
Lama Thubten Yeshe is remembered by students in Australia and England as a master chef, a linguist – and a psychologist. Lama Zopa Rinpoche makes a memorable impact on a student. Adele Hulse’s tales of the life and times of Lama Yeshe continue …
In July 1977 Lama Yeshe flew to Melbourne, where he and Peter Kedge were guests of Bea Ribush, Nick and Dorian Ribush’s mother. Bonnie Rothenberg (Ven. Konchog Donma) had moved Tara House into a large rented bungalow, and Dorian Ribush opened an organic food shop nearby. This was the very first shopfront business to operate on behalf of a center anywhere, and although some students worked very hard to make it a success, it lasted just one year. However, in that time it provided food for Tara House, half the costs of a large Shakyamuni Buddha statue, and paid for some solid antique library furniture for the center.
There was time for another meeting with Tibetologist David Templeman, this time at his house. “When Lama said he wanted to visit, I asked what we would do,” said David. “He said: ‘Oh, we’ll sit, talk, cook and make some tea,’ which was all we ever did. Lama was very helpful with my Tibetan language, going through texts meticulously with me. His pronunciation was just superb. He treated my efforts at classical Tibetan with great dignity and respect, and never glossed over anything.
“When we left the kitchen we walked into my little study where I had a collection of Buddhist statues, mostly unremarkable except for one that I had always treasured. It is just a misshapen lump of bronze about two inches high, but there is a shape to it, and with half an eye you can just make out Green Tara. I bought it in Nepal in 1969 after seeing it in a shop many times. Lama walked past my bookshelves and suddenly stopped in front of this statue. He immediately threw back his zen and prostrated on the floor many times. Then he said: ‘This is a very ancient and beautiful statue of Tara. You must always treasure it.’ And of course I always have, but it was as though the statue had called out and spoken to him,” said David. …
Lama Thubten Yeshe gave this talk on how to integrate emptiness with everyday life at Vajra Yogini Institute, France, September 5, 1983.
What is emptiness? Emptiness (shunyata) is the reality of the existence of ourselves and all the phenomena around us. According to the Buddhist point of view, seeking reality and seeking liberation amount to the same thing. The person who doesn’t want to seek reality doesn’t really want to seek liberation, and is just confused.
If you seek reality, and you think that it has to be shown to you by a Tibetan lama, that you have to look for it outside yourself, in another place – maybe in Shangri-La! – then you are mistaken. You cannot seek reality outside yourself because you are reality.
Perhaps you think that your life, your reality, was made by society, by your friends? If you think that way, you are far from reality. If you think that your existence, your life, was made by somebody else, it means that you are not taking the responsibility to understand reality. You have to see that your attitudes, your view of the world, of your experiences, of your girlfriend or boyfriend, of your own self, are all the interpretation of your own mind, your own imagination. They are your own projection: Your mind literally made them up. If you don’t understand this, then you have very little chance of understanding emptiness.
This is not just the Buddhist view, but also the experience of Western physicists and philosophers – they have researched reality too. Physicists look and look, and they simply cannot find one entity that exists in a permanent, stable way: This is the Western experience of emptiness.
If you can imagine that, then you will not have any concrete concepts; if you understand this experience of physicists, then you will let go of your worldly problems – but you don’t want to understand. …
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