Aging Body Never Younger – Wild Mind Young For Long

Hungkar Dorje Rinpoche [1]

Orange County, 03.11.2023


It has been some years not seeing each other but we meet together today here. I think it’s something probably good. When I see everyone, everyone is a little different. And I thought about that: what is the difference? And I think it’s not getting younger; that’s what I thought. The meaning of the Buddha’s teachings is basically to accept the reality, the nature of phenomena, of life. So the nature of life is always changing, always aging, always getting to the end.

I think one of the very important meaning for us to be a Dharma people is to think of the reality of the human life. And some people probably think that Buddhists are stupid because they think of impermanence too much – there’s nothing can do. But we think differently. When we think about the nature of the reality we improve this life due to the understanding of this reality. Time is always moving so that’s reason for us to try to use the time in appropriate way since we have this fortunate opportunity. We should not waste the time that we have now.

Recent years we have come through this difficult situation like Covid-19 and it took millions of lives away, but luckily we are still alive and still trying to accomplish some good actions. So I think we should appreciate whatever we have, especially the time that we have now to do good things. I think it’s something very important to appreciate that and to understand the value of the time.

So many of you here have a very good connection, strong connection, very close connection to our dear Lama Sang. Lama Sang taught many valuable teachings to you. Therefore, I hope you still remember the meanings of the teachings of Lama Sang given and remember his instructions for your path, for your deeper and better understanding about Dharma, about the meaning of life.

Some people forget things easily and sometimes they forget about the relationship between their Guru and themselves. Therefore, they forget the teachings and the practice. But most people are pretty faithful because of their faith and their devotion, they try to keep the connection to the good. I think this is something very important for us to be a good Dharma practitioner. The reason for me to say these things is because you have been trying very hard, I think. And you really wish to improve yourself through your Dharma practice. Therefore it’s very important to know the necessary things to improve yourself on the path.

Since many of you have very good karmic connections and close [connection] to Lama Sang I said we should not forget about this and you should stand up or we should improve from this very important foundation. It’s been a challenge for me to go around recently; but I still have some karmas, I think, so I try to come because of two reasons: one is because you have very good connection with Lama Sang. That’s one reason that makes me want to see everyone again. And the other is that we have some connections and maybe through this connections, maybe I can benefit you. So for these reasons, I think, I’m here.

As I said earlier, especially Lama Sang’s students are not getting any younger. Therefore I want to try my best to help you on the path. Because we are not getting any younger so we try to be faster, to use the time correctly. Because we don’t know how much time actually we have for this life, so that was one of the main reasons for me to be here and to say things, and to mention and to remind you some necessary things.

And when I say not getting any younger means getting physically not younger but mentally probably the same, like children and very spoiled and very busy and very noisy, very narrow minded. So I think mentally we have not changed too much but physically I think some changes.

In the teachings Buddha says the mental distractions, mental consciousness never gets old. They’re always very young, very crazy and very wild. Therefore, we need to practice the Dharma and to tame the mind as much as we can because these wild demands, these manners destroy everything, every positive thing. So we need to understand what kind of change we have to make and what kind of understanding we should have for improvement. Therefore, we always need the Dharma.

When I said pure connection, pure motivation, pure devotion, they are the most important causes for us to improve on the Dharma path. Because I myself have been also practicing the Dharma for many many years and of course I have some experiences. Therefore I have some confidence and some understanding to say that pure devotion is everything, is the most important cause for the good result of Dharma.

Many of you have been practicing Dharma many years so I think somehow you know how to practice and the problem is not about not knowing how to practice. But I think the problem is not paying attention to the necessary factors and not observing your mind much. And because of that our minds are always changing, always following external things, always being very tricky and don’t see the truth, the real things. Because we follow our minds too much, we are lost. I really think so. Sometimes our minds are very confused by external things. We believe in the external things too much and we try to follow them, but we do not really accomplish anything through following these very tricky, negative emotions. But our habitual tendency is to believe in our own mind and thoughts. So I think we need to improve our wisdom and pure understanding.

At different times, different ages, we have different ways of believing in things. But nothing is actually truly established. When we were very little we had interest in some things but they are no more interesting to us now. Every day our mind is changing, our interests are changing so the mind is actually cheated by the external things. But we don’t understand this reality. At a moment we try to hold on a thing, the next moment it already changes. So changing of the mind is not changing about the external things but of the internal things. So I think when we lose this life: everything is different. That means our way of understanding is not very profound and it’s not very deep. So it’s not very reliable.

So the only truth is the death is pretty truthful. I mean very true for everyone. When the death comes then everything changes. Therefore, many things that are not true but we don’t understand that and we think everything is true. Therefore we try to accomplish many things, one after one, and never think that’s enough. When the death comes then everything is change, everything is different. Nothing is there actually, except karma and the seeds of negativities. So one needs to purify negative karmas before one’s going to die. It takes a lot of time to purify ourselves therefore we need to use the time as diligently as possible.

We think I am fine today, tomorrow, this year, next year. But Shantideva says the Lord of death is very unpredictable. So we do not know when we die. We hope that we have long life. Everything seems okay but it’s not the case, because it’s very unpredictable. Therefore, the Lord of death does not wait until work is finished. We cannot have any excuses saying “I’m busy”, “I have to make more money” or “I have to do this and that then I will practice Dharma.” Because death does not wait until your works finish. Therefore, all beings, whether sick or not sick, should not place their trust in this life.

We do things our own way. We do things not according to cause and effect, therefore sometimes we do not know that we have to leave and be separated from all. And also we do many bad things, for friends, for enemies. There are some very important friends to us, therefore there are some people are not that important and there are some people are, we think, even evil, bad enemies. Therefore there are attachment, anger, and hatred in our mind naturally. Because of those negative emotions, we create many negativities.

But the reality is that our enemies and our friends, including ourselves, will come to an end. We all will die one day. So when death comes, everything is changed. Also in this life, it’s not really about how your friends or enemies are, but mainly about how you think they are. But we do not understand this reality so we believe that they are bad or they’re good and there’s a lot of negative emotions in our minds.

The same person can be our friend or our enemy at different times. We say that person is evil and he “did some harm to me,” the main thing [here] is how we see that person. The meaning, the use of Dharma for us is to have a correct perception, which means how you perceive, how you understand is the main thing. So you can make your enemy become friend through your correct understanding. Because our enemy is an enemy when you are angry. But if you try to liberate that anger then there’s no more enemy. So actually the mind is everything, is how you perceive is everything. Therefore Dharma is to exercise to have correct perception.

To have a correct perception is very important, So I try to remind you about very important parts for the Dharma practice. And especially when we are all aging, then especially [important] we have to understand the value of our time and try to use that time very carefully. We do not really want to waste any minute, any second because time is the most valuable thing for us, for everyone, especially for people who are not very young.

Of course, sometime we enjoy the things in our life. They pass like a dream as taught in the teachings of Buddha. So it is true that many things in the past are just like dreams. So Shantideva says, “Whatever I enjoy will be just like experience in a dream and becomes memories, just memories.” They don’t come back. There were many kind important people but they all passed way. They will not be seen again. Therefore, we should not attach to the things that is happening at the present because they will be like the things in the past – just experiences.

Because of our ignorance and attachment, whatever we do becomes bad karma, so it’s very important to watch and to understand what is going on in our mind all the time. To think of impermanence is very basic thing and very important thing. Because it we practice Dharma continually and we do not want to be busy for useless things. So many teachings of the Buddha talk about the importance of thinking about impermanence.

At the same time, we have to accept our karma and the result of our actions from the past. And also we have to understand that one is responsible for all the good and the bad happenings in the future. So we need to watch our minds all the time and to make sure that the mind is very peaceful all the time.

Although Buddhists always talk about impermanence but deep in our minds, we still believe things are permanent, everything is there forever. This is the grasping onto phenomena being real and truly established. So this is ignorance; this is the main source of all the problems.

Many things improve for us to have a better material life, and we think everything is okay. If I get sick, I can go to hospital so maybe there’s a way my life can be extended. But the truth is opposite to that [thinking]: we must follow the rule of karma. If the karma says that this is the time for you to die, nothing can really extend your life. So we have to understand that. And Shantideva says the days and the nights of this life do not remain unchanging, no matter how much the society develops. And many good things appear, but still it will not remain unchanging. Our life will continually decline and there is no way life can be extended. This is the reality. We should question ourselves: “Why shouldn’t a person like myself die?” or “Why do I know when I die?” This is a very important way of thinking and understanding the reality of our life.

We understand that the use of Dharma is for us to have a peaceful passing when the death comes because the death is not easy to go through. We believe our friends or family members and many things that are pretty helpful, but at the moment of death, nothing can help us apart from the experience of Dharma practice. So Shantideva says when someone is sick and laying in the bed even though surrounded by his relatives and friends, they cannot do much. They can’t take away your pain, your emotions, your illusions, your fears. You are the one who will experience all the feelings associated with this moment of your life. So this is the reality. This is the reality that we need to know. So to have confidence and to have wisdom to accept and to go through the death peaceful, Dharma practice is very important.

Why do we need to worry about death and after death. It’s a very common thing for everyone. Why do you need to worry? But Dharma thinks it’s very important because everyone wishes for happiness and because of ignorance does not know how to go through this process of the Death. That will be a big problem because that creates many many negative karmas. So you will have more troubles, more sufferings in the future. Therefore if you know how to practice, how to take situation related to death into the path, then everything becomes peaceful. Everything will be good. Therefore Dharma practice is the real cause for happiness and peace. Dharma teaches how to eliminate our attachment to things in this life, including relatives and friends. Dharma does not say they are very bad, they are not useful but Dharma teaches us to understand that there are dangers of paying too much care about these things then that becomes attachment, fixation.

Shantideva says when I am cut by the Messenger of the Lord of death, what is the benefit of relatives and friends? At that moment only merits can protect us, only Dharma protects us. However we have not attempted to gather such merit because we are distracted by things in our life. We are busy for this and that and not really practicing the Dharma so when the very important time comes when we really need some help, nothing can do. There’s no good karma [to help] because we did not gather anything like that. Therefore, Buddha teaches us to see the value of the time and to practice as soon as possible.

Dharma gives us a very profound vision to see through far away. When we do not know about Dharma, we don’t see very far away. We see only this life, future of this life so we try to accomplish many things for this life. “When I get old I need this and that; when I’m sick, I need this and that.” This is not enough to understand of our future therefore Dharma gives us a very profound and a complete understanding of our all lives and future.

We take refuge in the Buddha to listen to His instructions. But many times we do not really do that. “I did not listen to you when I was alive. Now I’m in the Bardo and see the great danger. Now the only thing to protect me is my taking refuge in the Buddha.” There are many great stories about great Masters and they talk about this. “I was very busy but then in the Bardo when. I see all of these scary illusions, dangerous things then I remembered to take refuge in the Buddha. That was good but pretty late. I don’t have any other support to rely on to take birth high realms because I did so much negative things when I was alive.”

So basically saying we must act according to the instructions of the Buddha. We must listen to the instructions of the Guru. We must follow the instructions correctly. Otherwise it will be more and more difficult to have happiness in the future. So if one wants to be happy forever, one must act according to the instructions given by the Buddha now.

Of course the meaning for one is being honest and one is acting accordingly the instructions given by the Buddha is to eliminate mental lkesheas all the time because negative emotions are very dangerous. Therefore we have to be very careful not to let the mind go after these emotions and to keep the mind correct and pure as much as we can. But sometimes we forget about the main part of Dharma practice and we pay attention on external things not related to Dharma practice, therefore we are not able to make much progress on the path. So we need to understand the essence of Dharma and what is the real meaning of practicing the Dharma.

The more we practice Dharma, the less attachment we have in our minds. This is how Dharma works effectively. [But we] have more attachment, more bad perceptions towards everything, everyone, and we are more aggressive, more dishonest. Receiving the blessing of Dharma practice means to have less attachment and smaller negative emotions and to become more diligent, more generous and more open, more friendly, more kind. So this is a good sign of being a good Dharma practitioner.

Everyone, we have done very very deep bad actions – unspeakable, unthinkable something like that – very very very deep bad actions. Why have we done so much? Because through our ignorance, we have committed naturally many many bad actions. So now we are facing many many difficulties that are not possibly avoidable. We must face these difficulties unless we practice Dharma and we strongly confess all of these negative deeds.

In order to make a pure and powerful confession, we need to rely on Buddha Dharma, on the Three Jewels. And we have to see the Three Jewels like our bosses that we are very respectful to. If we don’t see them as higher then we do not listen to them. So we call them Refuge. And we ask them: “Pay attention to me! I want to confess all the negatives that I have done in the past in front of the Buddha, Bodhisattva, the Three Jewels. And from now I will not perform any negative deeds.”

And being Dharma friends we have to support each other and rejoice the merit that other Dharma friends have. Sometimes we get jealousy when we see our Dharma friends are doing good things. We do not support them but, instead, feel unhappy about that. This is a very bad action that destroys all our good karmas. So we should rejoice and we should appreciate other people’s good actions.

People are sometimes pretty negative and aggressive because of their narrow understanding and their narrow mind. They do not accept or appreciate good actions of others and do not see the positive parts of others’ good actions. They like to criticize others and this is something really bad. And also, this is something happening in Dharma communities’ life, everywhere in the world. Therefore one has to have the power and understanding to control this kind of bad negative emotions, and to understand the importance of rejoicing others’ good actions.

Therefore, we do whatever according to Mahayana’s teaching to benefit all sentient beings. Shantideva says, “Through the power all these good actions, may whatever merit I have accumulated serve to dispel all the suffering of all sentient beings.” So practicing Dharma is how to serve sentient beings and be kind to them. And if one is doing in this way, one is doing correctly Buddha’s teachings. If one is doing in the opposite way, one is taking completely wrong path, not the path of liberation.

As a result of training the mind through developing compassion and Bodhicitta, one should accomplish such [strong] conviction that one is able to give everything belonging to him or her to sentient beings. For example, “I should donate without hesitation his body, wealth and also all my merit of the three times to benefit all sentient beings.”

Although physically we are not able to give everything, but we have to train our mind in this way so that it will become true. At the beginning, while being an ordinary person, we do not have ability to do or think this way. We think, ”Everything belonging to me is mine, I don’t want to give anything away. I don’t want to get attacked by others, and I want to protect myself as much as I can.” This is our attitude towards ourselves in everyday life. Practicing Dharma means we have to change the way we see things. So we should make very big changes with our view and the way we are.

We have to say many aspirations everyday, in our own practice, in order to become like this. Shantideva says: “All the beings whoever did harm me, whether they killed me or disgraced me, may all of them have fortune to attain enlightenment.” This is the kind of motivation that we have to develop. “Whoever make connections [with me], bad or good – through these connections may I benefit them. May they have the fortune to attain enlightenment through these connections.”

Through the genuine Dharma practice, one can benefit in many ways. For example, when bodhisattvas are on their path, they say a lot of aspirations and think of many ways to benefit others and then they achieve such a [great] power. For example, “when there is no food may I become food. When there is no medicine, may I become medicine for sentient beings,” such and such. So we should do the same thing. We should understand these special trainings and to train oneself in this way so that we will be able to benefit [people] through miracle activities.

We need to develop our bodhicitta just as the Tathagatas in the past have done. They developed bodhicitta motivation step by step. Likewise, we want to developed Bodhicitta motivation step by step continually, diligently to be able to establish the genuine bodhicitta motivation. Therefore we need a lot of patience. It doesn’t look like 15 minutes everyday is enough. But even if we practice 15 minutes every day we make a big deal, “Oh I am a good Dharma practitioner. Everyday I practice 15 minutes!”

So according to Mahayana teachings, the only meaningful thing is thinking about bodhicitta and developing bodhicitta motivation. Other than that everything is meaningless. So by training the mind of Enlightenment one’s life become meaningful. We can say that our life is meaningful because we are practicing bodhicitta. And we can also say, “My life is meaningless because I don’t practice bodhicitta and compassion; I’m not being compassionate person; I’m not being kind, not being patient.” So, this is how to say what is meaningful and what is not meaningful.

It’s true that in human society, it’s good thing to be a child of someone very important, intelligent, or rich. Likewise, it’s important to be a child of the Buddhas. The only way to be a child of the Buddhas is to practice bodhicitta as I mentioned earlier. Once we become a child of the Buddhas then our life is meaningful. Today my life is meaningful because I have obtained an excellent human birth and I have been born in the family of the Buddhas. I am now a child of the Buddhas because I am on the training of Bodhisattvas’ way.

We have this opportunity to meet and to have faith in the Mahayana teachings; Also, we try to practice to benefit all sent beings through developing bodhicitta motivation; so now my activities must be in accord with my Buddha’s family. Developing bodhicitta has the power to bring the Buddha very close to us.

It’s a very very rare chance to understand the importance of bodhicitta and try to develop bodhicitta motivation. It’s not easy. Not everyone is trying to practice bodhicitta. But since we have this opportunity, now we should be very happy. For example, it’s just like a blind person who by a chance finds a precious jewel in the garbage. Because there’s no precious things in the garbage, and a blind person cannot see, so it’s almost impossible.

But if a blind person fortunately finds a jewel in the garbage this is something very very special. And we are blind by ignorance; we are actually blind people because of heavy ignorance. Our minds are big big big garbages and deep trash. Still we try to see the quality of bodhicitta in the minds full of garbage. So this is even much more valuable. So we should really see the value of this chance to have this human life. We meet Buddha Dharma, we met the Mahayana teachings and also know how to practice bodhicitta.

The source of this practice of Mahayana teachings is not to harm any anyone, any beings through the action of our body, speech, mind. We should try to eliminate all harmful actions through the understanding of nature of compassion. So, this is what we practice. This is the meaning of Dharma practices, Mahayana practices. So, I hope that everyone here tries to do better practice of compassion and bodhicitta motivation.

Usually, it’s a common problem for Dharma people to have a very big mouth and very sharp mouth but very poor engagement, very poor understanding or practice. Practice is the real action that we can see. Dharma practice is somehow visible. Therefore, if you are a good Dharma practitioner, other people can see your good conduct. And you also see yourself clearly. But bad Dharma practitioners can’t see themselves, so that’s a problem [for them]. That is a very big problem for almost everyone who is a Dharma practitioner. And when very important, big issue comes, then everything becomes different, and [one] totally changes to an evil person. Still, when everything is good, everything is okay, then one is probably a peaceful and good Dharma practitioner.

But that’s not real. We need to be a [good] Dharma practitioner externally and internally. The main thing is inside, but we are the opposite of that. Sometimes we pretend to be very gentle, very good, very peaceful [externally], but inside it is like burning – very aggressive and many [bad] things happen. Although sometimes we don’t recognize the problems, but most of the times we know that. This is not correct way of doing Dharma practice. But somehow, we cannot control ourselves. So now we have to try to have the power to control our own negative actions, to establish real experience of the Dharma, genuine Dharma.

So that was the meaning of Dharma, real Dharma, genuine Dharma and real meaning of Dharma practice. And that is the real thing. That’s the whole thing that we try to accomplish and try to practice. But we are very forgetful, we are forgetful for many many many things; especially Dharma practices, we forget them very easily. Dharma practice is not sitting there and reading. Not necessary like that, but [the most importantly is] to be mindful, to see your mind: what is going on in your mind. This is a real Dharma practice. So, I think it’s good to remind oneself sometimes by listening to the teachings, or reading books, or meditate, or thinking. But we have to use all of these methods [for the purpose] to remember the essence of Dharma practice.

So, praying or reading – everything is important and useful – but the main thing is the meaning behind. So, the words in prayers have the power to remind us of the meaning: what you should think, what you should concentrate, and what kind of conduct you should have. The prayers and the practices, the sadhanas – the use of them is to remind you [of Dharma]. So, we need to combine the meaning and the words together, to combine the meaning, or understanding, and the action together. So, this is a correct way of Dharma practice.

It is said that in the teachings the words in the prayers are like walking sticks, and the meaning of those words are like an old person. That the old person has to stand up by walking stick. So only [their] being together is good. If the old person cannot stand up, then the walking stick, maybe made of gold, does not have any use, any value. The prayers and the sutras have the power to remind of the meaning and to raise the wisdom through the words, so we have to use them. But we have to think [of the meaning] and meditate (to chant prayers – LND) together.


End of teaching on 03.11.23


Transcript by Tri Kien Thanh Tinh
Rewritten by: Lotsawa.
MP4 Hungkar Dorje Rinpoche teaching on 03.11.2023:


[1] This is Hungkar Dorje Rinpoche’s teaching on March 11, 2023. English transcript, Vietnamese translation and the title have been sent to Rinpoche for approval and blessing.