We Should Know Clearly What Is Dharma What Is Not Dharma

01.01.2023, Zoom


We were talking how important Dharma for both non – Buddhist people and Buddhist people. I think we discus quite a lot. Sometimes it’s like being criticizing but when we talk about the benefits of Dharma, why do we need Dharma, then of course, we need the true understanding of the problems of people and society and [how] Dharma can solve many problems in this world. So, we need to talk about some negative things about our world and about people [in this world]. When we say samsara, samsara is too big, sometimes we don’t know [its nature]. So, we need to understand the nature of one’s own life without Dharma. Without Dharma life can be difficult and sometimes very dark and no directions or something like that. Most people think just work and make money and have family and raise children. Then of course we face difficulty, then happy, unhappy and all of these emotions. People see that they are very normal but at the same time they hurt so much from these emotions, negative thoughts, negative things that they created themselves. But they don’t think there is a way to really solve that problem, to destroy that kind of negative karma. There’s a way: Dharma has the power to reduce, to destroy the cause of all suffering. But people don’t understand that. And then they just think this is the nature. So even though they hurt, and they suffer a lot and they don’t have any other way. That Dharma has many ways, Dharma shows us the way to reduce suffering; there is the way to liberate these negative things. Therefore, we need to understand what’s the world like and life like without Dharma. So, we are talking about problems in the life, in society at the moment. We need [to know] with Dharma everything is different, [otherwise], everything could be difficult and could be harmful..

And also, know how to engage in human life. We should never have a blind faith. People are easy to have blind faith that is not based on study, a good reason, good thinking. But [we need] faith that is very pure that comes from good conditions and causes: to hear the Dharma, think carefully the meaning of Dharma and try to the get essence of that, try to get the experience from one’s studies. So, blind faith is never good and we should try to avoid from being blind faithful. Being like a rabbit frightened by a sound. It is the way of saying in Buddhist tradition in Tibet. First the rabbit heard a sound, like a “khyo”, and then he ran away. Then second the rabbit asked him “why are you running? Why are you scared,” and he answered he heard “khyo” then he ran and the then other one also ran; and then every rabbit ran because of that sound. That doesn’t mean they had to run away. That wasn’t something very danger or scary but without checking, without examining what it is, and they just thought that sound was scary and ran way. We shouldn’t be like that; we should have a good reason to do and of course we need to come to Dharma. It’s very important for our life. So, we need to check carefully before accepting things. First we need to check, to study and to have pure understanding.

There was the tree and one leaf fell down to the water, and that sound in Tibet call “khyo”. The sound “khyo” made rabbit very scared and ran away. That’s not only rabbit but a lot of other animals ran away because they were said from the rabbit that he heard sound “khyo”. They did not really have to run away because that wasn’t something scary but all animals ran away. So we should not do like that. We should do anything that is with better understanding and good reason.

So right now, our situation is like the rabbit that scared of that sound. There are a lot of fears in our mind, and we worry for many things. Our ignorance makes us scared and worried without a good reason. Sometimes, we don’t really need to worry too much like that, but [this is] our nature to worry about things. We do things without a good reason or correct understanding, which lead to a lot of troubles in our life. When we are ignorant, we do not know what we are really doing and whether or not those things are good and bring happiness to us. Sometimes, ordinary people like us are actually confused and because of that, our actions are also very impure that create many negative and unhappy things. Therefore, we need to be smart or clear about things: What kind of things should be done and what kind of things should not be done. It’s very important and because of that reason we are studying Dharma and we are practicing Dharma.

Regarding sectarian view, we naturally are not equal to things. We pick something that is very important to oneself or see that they are very important. We think about somethings like that: good or bad or important or not, then we may harm things. So, because of that ignorance in the mind, we think this is OK but actually it is not OK. All the sufferings, all the bad things come from that kind of emotions, and the way we see or think brings a lot of problems. We are always not equal to many things, many people, many beings. Someone is very close to oneself and we value them a lot, then we have a lot of attachments to them. Meanwhile, other people, who we think to have some distance to us, we don’t care [of them]. If we harm them or create for them problems, we don’t have the kind of feelings that this is not OK but we think naturally it is ok. It’s because we are so ignorant and so sectarian.

So, we are talking two things of Dharma: First, Dharma is very important and necessary to non-Buddhist persons; and second, it is also necessary for those who are known as followers of the Dharma. Of course, when we say “known as Dharma followers”, we are talking about us. We are not really being Dharma practitioners, but at the same time, we try to be Dharma practitioners, though we don’t really follow [Dharma] correctly. And we are still lost, still under the control of non-Buddhist thoughts that’s not in accordance with Dharma. It is opposite to the Dharma. Like us, most people who are following the Buddha and the Buddha’s path, are not following it in a correct and completely profound way. It’s not what we want, but still, we are not able to follow correctly because of lack of understanding and many conditions to be really Dharma practitioners. Therefore, people like us are half like Dharma people – half not Dharma people. We need a lot [of Dharma practice]. Dharma is very necessary for people like us. Hence, we will talk about the necessity of Dharma for this world, known as followers of Dharma.

“It is difficult for anyone to avoid being caught by the hook of present events and the seduction of material things.” It is difficult for everyone of course, like us – very ordinary people. “Ordinary” here means without having a lot of knowledge of Dharma and without of good foundation of Dharma practice. It’s difficult for anyone to avoid being caught by hook like the present event or [what is said] important in life. Everyone sees the same thing like: “What is important to me is important to everyone”. For example: position or fame or whatever or this worldly Dharma. It’s sort of “They are important to me but not only me, but also for those who are very high Lamas and other scholars or Geshes”. I’m not trying to criticize people or try to be negative here, but I think we need to tell [because people need] to understand the truth: what is going on right now in the Buddhist society; otherwise, we don’t never have the mental power to truly understand what real Dharma is and what is not real Dharma. I am trying to say something that is really happening among the Buddhists in the world at the moment.

So, this world believes stuff that they see important. And there are states of things that are not really easy to understand, like “everyone, great and small, high or low, are always busy and never settling down.” If we see carefully, we’ll see the people or the Dharma people, even the inner people of Buddha Shakyamuni like monks or nuns, are also busy. They are not busy because of practicing Dharma but doing so many other things. So, I don’t think it’s something very positive, but more like negative because these things keep people, like monks or nuns, away from the path as they never sit down. The Dharma practitioners and the people of the Buddha Shakyamuni, they are very quiet. They have a lot of time to sit down and to meditate. Now, it is the opposite of that: no time to sit down and meditate but running here and there. Of course, even we say: “Oh, I benefit people. I’m giving lectures or teachings to people and leading people to the Buddha’s path” or something like that. But the problem is that we don’t have a good foundation to do that. Obviously, we want to lead people, we want to benefit people, but before doing that, we must have a good foundation. We must have the power to do that. However, they don’t have any base or foundation while try to be busy, probably because of their demand for being famous and possessing more things. It is very common in Tibetan Buddhism, Chinese Buddhism, Vietnamese Buddhism, all Buddhism everywhere. That is not really pure Dharma, but maybe it is the opposite. That’s we need to understand and be careful.

In China and Tibet, in every school of Buddhism, of course there are “tulkus”. You know that “tulkus” means reincarnation, which means someone more important than others monk or nuns and that keeps the tulkus busy. The Tulku has naturally a lot of responsibilities that keep the Tulkus busy and maybe not to have time to practice. And same as geshes, khenpos and so on. All these kinds of people are very important people in the Buddhist society, but they are busier. They are busy with worldly stuff, not real Dharma. Therefore, we need to know if this is Dharma or not. If it happens to me: “Am I able to accomplish Buddhahood or enlightenment?” Because these responsibilities or titles of mine like Geshes or khenpos will keep me busy and have no time to practice, which is going opposite to the direction of the Buddha’s path.

‘Those people’ means including these people – we here, too. Maybe, we are busier, look for more, more desire. Everyone has somehow a lot of not very important desires (laugh), but of course, we don’t see that they’re not important. We see that everything is very important. That’s the problem. We see things in our ignorance and that is the problem here. Then “who are busy seeking status and fame, even finding a way to buy it.” Probably it is true. I’m not really saying things without any reason, without any sort of base, but there are some conditions for me to say that. And because if you look and then you see, this is really happening now and a lot of people – if you’re in this thing too much then you are able to do [such] thing really. I mean if you can buy fame and position, I think a lot of people try to buy. Because here and maybe in Vietnam too, I think, like some positions in the in the government, some people are trying to give gifts and this and that to have opportunity for oneself. So that’s what I might say in here, saying like even a finding way to buy and they would. And “who don’t have a moment to rest their body and mind.” Maybe the body laying down on the bed and sleeping but your mind dream of it. Maybe your mind dream for fame and business and making money (laugh). That happens a lot, right? You’re resting, your body is resting, but your mind is still thinking of this thing. So, if you bring the body and mind together we do not really have time like a moment to rest because of the worldly things. They are really dangerous, like hooks, very sharp hooks that never released. That’s real situation. It is quite evident that [they] primarily attending worldly success. The things that we try to accomplish are not really related to the Dharma, to the path, but are in [ordinary] world. We try very much and we try our best to accomplish but actually we attain [only] worldly success, not really Dharma success. That’s dangerous things. Because of ignorance and then material things, they both come together, and we are confused, and we are lost in the middle of situation. Why I mentioned these problems at the beginning of teaching, of actual teaching or actual practice? We need to understand what is wrong and what is not wrong, what is correct and what is not correct, and what is real Dharma and what is not real Dharma? If we don’t have the wisdom to understand the difference then we never accomplish anything. Maybe in the future we are like these people. So before [trying so that this does] not to happen we need to talk about these bad things ahead.

“They’re busy both on the outside and the inside.” Rinpoche comment on the Tibetan-English translation): “The translation maybe not the best here. Everyone is busy both inside and outside. Everyone means ‘including those people that we mentioned earlier and everyone here, too.’ I think the best translation is ‘everyone is busy on the outside and inside.’” This is [being] distracted. “Busy for something” means we are distracted by that busy thing. So, these things, material things, worldly things affect everyone. Everyone is busy for those things. “[This is destructive] in part or completely to their own peace of mind, mutual respect, even belief in the law of karma;” means [one is] distracted by these things then it destroys the understanding or the belief.

Also, we lose respect to each other because we want to accomplish this and that, therefore, we need to compete. “I have to be the best or I have to accomplish before everyone also takes it.” We lose our respect; we are not respectful anymore because of paying too much attention to the material things or worldly stuff. Even [this destroys] belief in the law of karma. Of course, we see things so important then we don’t care about Dharma, and we don’t care about the cause and effect and the karma. We completely forget all of these things then we make a big trouble, we make a big mistake. We have great [things] and everyone – because everyone believe in those things – are very proud, they are very arrogant or something like that. Because if someone has some fame, some position, some wealth, they think they are great. They think they are powerful and they’re different from others. This is really seeing oneself important. So that is not good. If we try to accomplish so much in the world, I think we become naturally very envious and jealous. Because if you do not try to do that [out of jealousy], I think, you cannot succeed or something like that.

About sectarianism. Many things actually equal, they are same important, but when they come to us, we don’t see the same way. We see some very important, some are not important. Then we will become sectarian naturally. This is not good. When you see this people important and that people not important you act accordingly so. Then the people you think not important they are unhappy and they try criticize you and you are unhappy. The people you see very close to you, and you do your best to help them then they were very satisfied then bring a lot of troubles. Anyway, it is not actually correct here. Therefore, [we should] keep peaceful mind and mind that doesn’t see so much differences but [see] all the things, everyone is important. If we are able to see this way then our mind is more peaceful, and we are all [in] the middle way, in correct position.

So we can talk about our problem forever (laugh). But that’s why we need to practice Dharma, and everyone need to practice Dharma. So please understand strong desires within the world of Dharma. Of course, sectarianism. We are sometime very sectarian, for many things, especially for our tradition and it is also not good. Of course, understand, respect and faith in our own tradition is OK, but not being sectarian for that. That’s also not good. A lot people like who is the holders maybe the important people of that lineages, they are sectarian and they criticize then they have many negative thoughts, negative view toward other traditions. This is not good and create bad karma and the strong desires within the world of the Dharma. Because we say everything is Dharma, Dharma is important, my life is dedicated for them, I do only Dharma … this and that too much. Actually, we maybe in the Dharma world but what we [really] have is desire. We do things because of our desires. So, this is somethings very dangerous. It is really necessary for us to distinguish between good and bad, correct and not correct. “They even go so far as to trample on the commitment there should be between a lama and a student, even.” They should not do that. So the jealousy or envy everywhere. Everyone has some somehow this kind of mental problem. “They’re in the darkness of selfishness and deviousness and have no concern for anyone who does not serve in their own interest.” So, I think we should not at least be like this. It doesn’t mean we try to see the faults of others but at the same time we [should] see what is Dharma and what is not Dharma. This is the point for us to talk about to study about this. Sometimes we have to see what is correct, what is not correct of others’ actions. If you don’t see anything then you are really lost, you make yourself confused. Therefore, we have to have the knowledge what is real Dharma and what is not Dharma. For that reason, we need to think of these things in deeper way and more clearly.


End of lecture on 01.01.23


Transcript by Tri Minh Tara & Dieu Hue.

Excerpt from MP 3 Hungkar Dorje Rinpoche teaching 01.01.2023: https://lienhoaquang.com/q_rjnbzmf

*This is the teaching given by Hungkar Dorje Rinpoche on Zoom on December 18, 2022. The lecture has omitted parts about the organization of the lecture. The title is created by the translator for the convenience of the reader.

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