Three Qualities A Dharma Master Should Have (Part II)
21.10.2018 evening, Vinh Nghiem Pagoda, Vietnam
(Part II evening)
I talked about how to recognize a teacher and how to be a Dharma student. It’s very important subject for us as a Budhist people.
Generally speaking, to have a good teacher is very important for one’s education, learning, success and for one’s everything. Once we accept someone to be our teacher, we should respect the teacher, listen to the teacher, we should follow whatever instructions given by him. Otherwise, we become very bad person, bad man, bad woman, bad student. It’s the same situation [everywhere] in Buddist tradition. The Buddist students, they should respect their teacher very highly and should apply as much as one can the instructions and should keep very pure connection between the teacher and oneself. Otherwise, we will become bad Dharma persons or bad students that destroys possitive results on the path and that destroys the opportunities to make improvement for oneself and that really brings a lot obstacles for oneself. Sometimes that kind of situation, unclean connection between teacher and students, broken samaya can be a big cause for one to fall to the lower realms. So one must understand and try to protect oneself.
Then, as Dharma people we have already taken a lot of commitments. We accepted many requests for dharma practice, we had taken different vows for one’s dharma path. It’s very important to understand what one has taken, what kinds of commitment one has made and to protect and to keep these commitments as pure as possible; because keeping samaya pure is the only way to make some progress on the path, to receive some siddhas to reach some achievements on the path. If one doesn’t keep samaya, one doesn’t keep commitments and if one ignores and breaks [samaya] on purpose or not on purpose, then one will really destroy oneself and destroy all the results on the path.
I believe a lot of people here, in this country, go around to receive teachings and receive empowerments – from different lamas they receive different empowerments. And a lot of people here also have connection with Varjayana tradition. Sometimes people do not know but people still go around to receive teachings. Even though people don’t know the teachings, the deity and the empowerments and what the importance [of the teachings, empowerments] is and what’s necessary for doing that [teaching, empowerment]; but still they do that. That creates some conditions, of course. There’s nothing you can receive without conditions; but you receive anything, including Dharma teaching and empowerments with a lot of conditions, a lot of requests. Therefore, it’s very important for oneself to be aware of what one is doing, and what kind of requests one is accepting.
For example, when we take refuge in Three Jewels, when we want to become Buddhist person, Buddhist practitioners, are there any conditions to do that? Of course, yes. We have many conditions for us to be able to become a Buddhist, a Dharma practitioner. Can one do whatever one wants after one becomes Buddhist person? The answer is “no”. There are many requests we have to follow; because [there are] all of the conditions that create a Buddhist person – now we have to keep all of them. If we break these conditions, then we break commitments. You are breaking conditions for you to be a Dharma practitioner. So that you are destroying you being Dharma person. So of course we have to aware of this important things, conditions, how they works, what is the connections between these things. Without knowing this, without thinking of this, then I think it is not very useful, not very meaningful to be a Dharma person, because there’s not enough conditions to make oneself more meaningful on the path.
Buddha has given people authority to investigate in Buddha’s teachings and the Buddha himself. Buddha doesn’t say you have to be His followers, but Buddha says you have to study before you become a follower of Buddha’s tradition. You should study as much as you can and you try to examine what He said. Is it true or not, is it good or not? Does it make sense to you or not? You should examine first, investigate first. Don’t jump into the tradition without thinking, without understanding. But study first. If you think it is good because you have learned, because you think it is truthful, then you can follow His instructions. But Buddha said once you become a [Buddhist], once you took commitments or once you accepted these conditions, then you do not break the commitments because it creates a lot of karmas for you and it’s very bad for you.
[There are] basic conditions for us to be a basic Buddhist person. One of these basic conditions are like to take commitment do not harm any being, do not cut off others’ life. It’s important as basic condition for anyone to practice the Buddhist tradition because the Buddha does not allow anyone to practice dharma while being harmful to somebody or killing others. The Buddha doesn’t allow for anyone to do both together, but only one who is to be able to avoid any harmful actions. Of course people understand that it’s not good to harm others, not only people, but do not harm any being, any sentient being, which means including small insects, birds, chicken, fish. We should not harm them, attack them but we should protect them. That’s very basic conditions for us to be able to receive and practice teachings of the Buddha.
Killing is very bad action, very harmful action. Killing is one of the most aggressive actions, the most meaningless actions to a being. We understand dying is not something easy to go through. No one wants to be killed by anyone, for any reason. Therefore, it’s the same situation with any human being. Since we human beings don’t want suffering and we don’t want to accept death. It’s the same to any sentient being – no sentient being is willing to die. So, killing is very aggressive, very very bad action. Therefore, the result of killing is great and very bad: that can cause someone to be born in the lower realms, in hell realm very easily. The result is very powerful and negative. So, Buddha said try to do a lot of good action. And the first good action that Buddha request us to do is to avoid attacking others, doing harm to others.
What makes us be able not to harm others but protect one being harmed from bad action is to develop compassion. Compassion is the best cause for us to understand real situation, real suffering, what make suffering for others. When there is no compassion, no kindness, no loving kindness, then possibly we don’t have any feelings, don’t really feel what is the suffering for others, therefore we become very aggressive. Buddha teaches compassion, kindness very often. So, it’s very important for us to practice and to train oneself to be more compassionate. It’s very sweet and very kind actions if one try to become vegetarian; because through action of eating meat, a lot of animals will die. For example, in Nepal in Kathmandu, Kathmandu, is not a big city, the population is not very big and the Buddhist population in Kathmandu is even not big at all, very small. But it is said recently on internet that the Buddhist people in Kathmandu eat 81 million pigs a year. Only Buddhist people!
When we eat meat, meat doesn’t come from nothing, but it comes from a beings, a life. For example, in order to eat chicken, or meat of chicken, the chicken have to die first. You don’t eat the chicken before it dies, right? We don’t eat it alive, right? It died anyway when you eat it, it already died. So, eating meat, that action is very harmful action. Therefore, it is very kind if you are trying to be vegetarian as much as one can.
And the purpose for anyone to be a Buddhist is to accumulate some good merit so that one can go upper or one can be better, more pure, nobler person. Therefore, our goal is something very meaningful and it is very reasonable to do that; because only practicing Dharma can bring these goals, bring these results for us. No other conditions can create these results for us, but only [practicing] Dharma can bring the results. Therefore, to understand the purpose and to do things correctly as much as one can is very very important. People often make one common mistake: they are not aware of many things and ignore too many important things. Therefore, the results, or the improvement, the positive things that they should have met, these are reduced. They become very slow due to one’s own way of handling things.
All phenomena, all things are naturally impermanent, therefore, things are not reliable, including one’s life. What does that mean by one’s own life is not reliable? Because that is also impermanent, they change or life is also changed. It’s changing, changing and changing incidentally, without stop any second, but changing, continuously changing. Because of that there will be some big changes. Because there is very small changes that changes, that is continuously going; because of that there will big changes. When there is something big change, we do not prepare to accept that, we are possibly hurt because of that change. We do not want to see that kind of change. Therefore, it is a great way to understand the nature of phenomena, the reality of phenomena by practicing Dharma, following dharma teaching, the teaching of Buddha Shakyamuni, it will bring good or a lot of wisdom for us so that we will able to be fearless, we are able to prepare, to accept anything that will happen.
Buddha’s wisdom is inconceivable. Therefore, Buddha sees everything, Buddha knows everything. Buddha knows what brings happiness exactly to one’s life and Buddha knows what can cause liberation, so the Buddha’s teaching is most valuable, very very valuable. That has power or nature that creates best understanding in one’s life, one can be happy in this life, one can be peaceful in this life and one can have better life in the next life. So, actually purpose for us to practice Dharma, there are two purposes or two results, two powers. First, in this life one can relax no matter what is going on; under any kind of situations one mainly relax. If one is practicing very well, then one is able to do that and definitely one can do that. And then the second part is: we are already thinking about the future life, so that in the future, there will be more happiness, more peace, and more success. Therefore, the two qualities that the Buddha’ teaching bring into one’s life is one thing here happiness for this life and happiness for the future life.
I mention this morning also what kind of mental power or what kind of power for us to receive these positive or results from Buddha’s teaching – that is devotion. Of course: devotion in Buddha and devotion in Buddha’s teaching and pure view. Pure view is very important. We can’t see the excellent qualities of Buddha when we have no pure view toward the Buddha. We can’t receive the results of teaching when we are not pure view. We should train our mind to make our mind, to make our view more pure through studying, thinking, contemplating and meditating. Doing these, going through these three principle, exercises, skills, causes, definitely one can be able to do a lot of benefit and one can be a pure person, a very peaceful person and very humble person.
We have to understand or we have to accept that we have a very deep deep ignorance in our mind. Our mind is ignorant, because of that we are very ignorant. As long as one is very ignorant one will not be able to see the pure things. Because of that ignorance we see things in wrong way and because of that we have wrong view. The essence of Buddha’s teaching is very sharp, sharp like sword. If we use sharpness of the teaching of the Buddha, the root of our ignorance in our mind can be cut off. But it takes time, therefore we need to prepare accordingly. We need to have a lot of chances to improve oneself slowly, gradually and continuously.
End of teaching on evening 21.10.2018 (excerpt)
Transcript by Choying Drolma (Giang Huong).
MP3 of Hungkar Dorje Rinpoche’s teaching on evening 21.10.2019: https://lienhoaquang.com/thu-vien-anh_Vi%E1%BB%87t-Nam_dkckqcl_nghe-MP3_hungkar.html