We Do Not Want To Be In That Crazy Group*
We were talking about how important and how necessary Dharma is for both non-Buddhist and Buddhist people, and the reason for us to talk about this is to understand what is right and what is wrong, what is real Dharma and what is fake Dharma. I think it’s important for us to study what genuine Dharma is; who is really practicing genuine Dharma; who’s being in that position or in that environment. I think this is a very important subject. It doesn’t mean that we try to be critical of others, but we try to understand how to be a real Dharma practitioner.
So, let’s go through the book. “The Buddha first contemplated aging, sickness, and death, and knew that the basis for eliminating those states of suffering was to not be delivered by the pleasures of existence, the eight worldly concerns, attachment, and eversion”. The reason for the Buddha to turn the first wheel Dharma, Four Noble Truths, is that he wished us to understand the nature of samsara and the nature of life. Even though we’ve heard about these teachings a lot, and even though we understand that the life is full of sufferings or full of troubles and there are so many problems that we need to go through, we still have to suffer because we don’t have enough understanding of this reality and get a lot of attachments to this world.
Although we think we are practicing Dharma and we try not to have attachment to this world, actually we are making many things in many times that creates more sufferings and attachments. This is a real problem because of our ignorance. We are not really aware what we are doing, it’s a real Dharma or not. You probably think we’re doing something good which is a real Dharma practice and we are a real Dharma practitioner. But the problem is that we were talking about it earlier that many Buddhist people, from high down to low, from important to ordinary people, everyone is trying to accomplish something that is related to eight worldly concerns. Therefore, we need [to know] the truth, to understand and to study the real thing, real Dharma, and try to follow the instructions exactly as much as possible.
However, we, who followed his teachings, lead a life that is opposite to his. Everything we accomplish are opposite and contrary to what to be accomplished. That is true, right? Buddha accomplished enlightenment and liberation while the so-called followers like us are going the other direction, opposite to that he had accomplished. Things that he had accomplished are different. He had completely cut off his ignorance and attachments whilst we are building more emotions and attachments. And we are not able to release these negative emotions, we are stuck in there, and we just follow whatever the mind says, whatever your desire says, and we just go after wherever our attachments take. If we look carefully at us and at our conducts or motivation, probably we understand and we are able to aware that we are going the opposite direction to the Buddha path. So, this is the reason why we are talking about problems of samsara.
Understanding eight worldly concerns first will make us easier in practicing Dharma. If we do not understand the difference between worldly dharmas and real Dharma, then we are confused and we are lost and Dharma sometimes doesn’t benefit. Probably, some of us are in similar situation, which do not really see much improvement on the path. So, it’s important to learn what it is non-Dharma first. And then we have to study the Dharma, how the Buddha became Buddha, how he practiced, and how he gave up material things and possessions. So, he was able to give up and not only he was able to give up, he also had no other choice but just gave up. He’s given up for the Dharma, for the accomplishment and enlightenment. So therefore, he gave up completely everything and he became a monk who left everything behind him to where there is nothing, (to become) no-one. He practiced very hard, tried very hard. He went through so much hardship, difficult times too, for the Dharma. Therefore, he attained such a great accomplishment.
“The view, practice, and true nature cannot fit into the small aperture of our minds and so when we encounter them, we trample upon both the true meaning and the power of the mind. Instead, we set up networks of thoughts that delight in this world. Then we think that the views and conduct we have created are not only in agreement with the Dharma, but also that they are the best in Dharma.” Yeah, sometimes we try to be; not try to be [but we think] we are like that. We think what one is doing is the best: “I’m doing the real Dharma”.
Sometimes, we do not really think carefully, and we just do whatever others are doing. We think: “Oh, everybody’s doing like that and what I am doing must be OK, because most people do the same thing.” They are using the title of Dharma and probably they look like a real Dharma practitioner and do many things. That makes us confused, because everyone is doing the similar things and we think: “Oh, I’m similar to that and that I’m doing probably OK, I’m doing the correct thing”, and this is also a problem. Maybe the common one.
We do not look at things like the Buddha’s life or the life of real Dharma practitioners such as Milarepa or Patrul Rinpoche, but we look at others’ conduct: “Oh, this is very famous, and this has many followers and this has very good position and I might try like that. I must accomplish those things.” In Tibet, everyone follows those we mentioned earlier – high lamas or important people. The ordinary people are like that. Their conducts, their actions are more like that. And here in Tibet, we have so many great Dharma practitioners but [they] do not really follow or [do not] try very hard to follow them exactly. On the contrary, we follow those that are not like these great Dharma practitioners. And this is, I think, a common problem that we need to be aware of.
Here we say about “the view, practice, and true nature cannot fit into the small aperture of our minds.” It’s contradiction between different Buddhist schools and some think “We are the best”. Everyone think their own tradition is the best and it’s OK to think this way. But sometimes, the mind is too small, too narrow, that the greatness will not fit in in the mind and they reject. They criticize and they think that’s wrong, and this is the problem. For example, this ngondro is for the view of Dzogpa Chenpo – the great perfection, Rigpa. And that view is very great and vast. [But] some people cannot really understand the nature, and they think this is wrong. Now, that is the problem. That is what happens, because of their small aperture or their mind is narrow and their wisdom is not great enough. Therefore, many problems are created and many conflicts happen among different schools. But if we practice the real Dharma; and if we try to follow the Buddha’s instructions correctly, then this kind of problems are naturally solved.
Once again, I must lay stress on the problem of sectarianism. “Oh, my school is the best and yours are wrong” – this is happening a lot among different schools, within Tibetan Buddhist tradition and between Tibetan and Chinese Buddhism etc. This has created a lot of jealousy and negative things for us, so to make sure that it will not happen to us, we need to study what is right and what is wrong, right at the beginning. Moreover, since we think that the views of others are wrong, then we criticize them and run them down behind their backs. It happens the same everywhere, not only among ordinary people, but also in the Buddhist society where they probably talk the worst about others. This is not a real Dharma because Dharma only makes our mind more tamed, more peaceful and create more pure wills. But when one is going the wrong direction, it will lead to a lot of wrong views and bad attitudes toward others. We look down upon others: “They are not smart and they’re not good. They are wrong, they’re not Buddha’s stuff”. They say about whatever they could think of. Why are we doing these bad things continually all the time? Because we are following the command of ignorance. The mind is under the power of ignorance, and it doesn’t see the real things. It doesn’t see the qualities of the others, and it doesn’t see the right or the wrong.
It’s not that the people who are doing these things are not intelligent, in fact, they have [worldly] wisdom, but that’s because of their ignorance, we can say that. And “Ignorance and self-fixation and we act as if all of samsara and the world were beautiful, magnificent, solid and enduring” means that the more you follow your ignorance, the more stable or stronger one’s samsara is, which makes us never really end samara but continuing to be indulged in samsara. The view and the conduct or the ways that we think and we do that are creating our own samsara more beautiful. I don’t know if it’s a suitable word to use “beautiful” but in our mind it’s beautiful, right? “Oh, I’m trying very hard to do things for my Lineages and for my school and very successful and it’s a beautiful”. They think it’s beautiful and there’s some sort of making more beautiful, but not really the Dharma they’re making. So that’s completely wrong. We should not follow the commands of ignorance but our wisdom. It is wisdom that sees things correctly and purely.
“Through the Dharma, we should sever our strong ties to the vast dwelling, or home, that is samsara.” That’s right, we should be able to experience a real peace and happiness through Dharma practice. But because we are using Dharma for worldly Dharma, we have never experienced a realm or pure land of peace and happiness, unstained by self-fixation. Even though we are doing Dharma things, we do that with the self-fixation. Because of self-fixation, we do everything. And the Dharma practice is used to cut self-fixation and to release or to make least self-fixation. But most times, we are not able to do that (but) build more things with self-fixation. The goal to practice Dharma is to really experience real peace and happiness, but now we are doing something opposite to this, not really practicing genuine Dharma for the path but for other things in this life. Because of that, we have never experienced a real peace, real compassion and we never have seen a real pure land.
We can see what it is like now: the Dharma or the Dharma people by comparing it to the past. In the past, great Dharma masters of India and Tibet were dedicated to practicing the path above all else. And in that way, they attend to the result of Stream entrance – a level of Dharma practice, Arhat, the path of seeing, and the third Bhumi and so on. The way has changed: the way we talk about it, the way we see what is important has changed now. In the early society, the Dharma practitioners only see this as the most important – to accomplish, to achieve. But now high religious people look for something else, not this. In the past, for example, Nagarjuna accomplished the first path of seeing. There are many great Bodhisattvas and great Dharma masters achieved such great levels on the path like third Bhumi and so on. This is something that they really want to achieve and they’re able to achieve because they are very diligent and really sincere for these things. Hence, they were able to give up worldly stuffs and manifested that in the results of the paths and levels. These people in the past had achieved so much on the path because they practiced genuine Dharma, and their special qualities make up the principal subject in their respective biographies.
So, the Dharma practitioners in the past are very accomplished noble beings. They talked about their Arhat biography of their lives: how they achieved the Bhumi, or the achievement of the path through the Dharma. That is the principal subject of their biographies. However, in present days, there are those who say that they have attained the level of being master but what else is there in their autobiographies other than involvement with worldly concerns. And this is true, right? Nowadays, in the present times, people like me, and even higher, more important and famous people, do not have such real Dharma stories in their life to talk about, but they see things differently and see things in the world, positions in the world, in the government more important. They begin with account of their striving for attainment and status, and then declaire: “I now have many followers. I have these students. I am the abbot of this monastery and the head of that organization. I am a chairman of this or that community.” This is real, right? I think it’s real. I think you understand very well what is like in the society right now? I see in Vietnam many monks who may get a job in the government, and they think: “Wow, A Ha, I’m so successful and so important” (laugh). This happens everywhere, not only in Vietnam or China, everywhere. This is the difference between the past and the present with religious people. Do you see the differences now? And do you see there is a big difference between the Dharma practitioners in the past and Dharma people now?
Because the way they see things is different in the past: they were closer and closer to the Dharma and result of Dharma and with the number of those ignorantly involved in Dharma activities increases the way Dharma people see things is different from the past. Now, Dharma people are going further and further [from] the Dharma. In the past Dharma practitioners or masters had more and purer wisdom; nowadays, we don’t have such great or pure wisdom, but a lot of ignorance; thus, the number of those ignorantly involved with non-Dharma activities is increasing. As the result, as Dharma is in our mind, so Dharma is further and further away from Dharma practitioners and especially important Dharma people. “In these times, those who engage in non-Dharma activities—and all kinds of perverse behavior—in order to obtain Dharma status and Dharma power, are appearing in great numbers, like mushrooms in a field.” This kind of people appear more and more every day, everywhere and I think it is easy to appear more because ignorance or negative emotions are main causes to create such people. And it is easy to have this kind of motivation, but not pure motivation for Dharma, pure wisdom. So, we see ourselves also being like this, but probably others are more being like this kind of Dharma people who don’t achieve anything related to Dharma, but are using the power of Dharma to achieve stuffs in samsara. They just want to gain the title of that position related to Dharma and many are willing to compete with each other for the power of Dharma or position in the sangha or in the monastery. The main reason is, of course, ignorance and mental klesha, not something good or something pure that is creating this thing. There are more this kind of people appearing everywhere, in every country. So, we can see, maybe we can see those, right?
“Members of Dharma traditions who have self-interest and self-concern have an ocean of aversion and attachment in their hearts.” Probably it is true, really. There are many people who want to see “who I’m” – [they] are very narrow minded, not open-hearted. Only some people, their people, fit in their hearts – that’s sectarianism. Of course, it’s not Dharma. “They are continuously salivating at the thought of such worldly concerns as politics, power and fame. They engage in worldly concerns day and night. It does not appear possible to counter this misfortune that has befallen our time and the teaching.” As we mentioned earlier, in every Buddhist tradition, in every country, those people are involved so much in this kind of worldly dharmas, politics and power. “They engage in worldly concerns day and night.” Such people really exist and, of course, we don’t say 100%, but I think most people are like this now. It does not appear possible to count the misfortune that has befallen in our time, and this is a great harm to the Dharma. It’s a big loss and harm for the Dharma. These are harmful things or ways to destroy the great part of the tradition. It’s also a great loss for the Buddhist teachings because we need Buddha and Buddha teachings. Dharma needs great Dharma practitioners. Only by that way, will Dharma work and be useful. Dharma is very beneficial to sentient beings, but if it is only used for worldly stuffs, then real Dharma cannot live, or it becomes valueless.
This is a real thing happening right now in this world with the Buddhist tradition and Buddhist people and it’s kind of sad. But not much thing can be done for that. It’s their direction, it’s their option and naturally they want to pick that direction. But at least I think there are people who are purer, more sincere. Still there is. But most people are going a little crazy right now and we do not want to be in that group, that crazy group (laugh). So please understand and make yourself humble, be pure and sincere to the Dharma.
“If someone uses their power and rank to benefit others then that is a good thing, but if we examine this in detail, we see that deep in their hearts, people with power and wealth don’t wish to benefit anyone other than themselves and their followers.” This is really true among the lineages. In Tibet, for example, between different traditions, they only try their best to develop their own traditions and benefit their own people. When they try very hard, they’re willing to do anything for their people, for themselves, and at the same time, they are able to harm others for themselves. So, that is the problem. That is the “not beautiful” part (laugh). Some people, some traditions are really harmful to others and they try to destroy others’ success, try to give pressure on them, and do many other things. That is the problem. So, if we examine carefully, we’ll see deep in their hearts, there is a lot of attachment and aversion. “Benefiting others” does not mean benefiting only those associated with yourself. This is true, right? Like [for] the Buddha and Bodhisattvas, there’s no difference. There’re no such people that are not associated with them, not related to them. This is real Boddhisatva. We are opposite to this, and we are being very sectarian. We see only our own people, our own tradition good and important while others are “no, no, no, no”. That is seriously happening right now, thus we should try to keep our mind in a very peaceful position and not to go to any extremes, but try to be in the middle way.
Of course, everyone understands – but sometimes we forget – what is really beneficial for others. “Benefit others” means to primarily act to benefit others without partiality, attachment or aversion. But in the minds of these people, there are only thoughts about their own traditions and followers. It is a serious problem. There have been wars between religions and religious traditions because of this kind of attachment and aversion. Many traditions are like that, of course, in the Buddhism, too. In Tibetan Buddhism, there have been lots of conflicts and debates, or fighting (laugh). It is worse to kill each other for their own tradition. This is based on history, on reality, not I’m making these things and not thinking maybe they are like this. No, it is related to the history. And “they are nothing other than worldly people who have sprayed themselves with the perfume of the Dharma.” This kind of conduct and the things they have done make them further and further from the Dharma. Their strong emotions have led them to do such bad things that reduce their qualities related to the Dharma. They have no Dharma mind. You can say that “spray to themselves with the perfume of Dharma.” It is not Dharma, they have no smell of Dharma (laugh) but “act in a sectarian and bias way is considered to be bad”. Of course, being sectarian and dishonest is bad, not only in the Dharma, but even in the context of worldly values. So how could it ever be considered the conduct of an enlightenment or enlightened being?
End of lecture on 08.01.2023
Transcript by Tri Minh Tara & Dieu Hue
Excerpt from MP 3 Hungkar Dorje Rinpoche teaching MP3 Hungkar Dorje Rinpoche teaching 08.01.2023: https://lienhoaquang.com/q_7wlcdya