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by Venerable Khenchen Konchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche

August 22, 2013

Stockholm, Sweden

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Good evening everybody.

I don’t know what to talk about regarding mindfulness. Mindfulness, you know, just be mindful (laughing). Out of curiosity, you may have some questions in mind that you would like to ask, if so, it would be a good starting point.

Audience: There are many rich and successful people here in this country, yet they are not happy. What is the matter with our wealth? We have everything, commodities and all.

Rinpoche: What else would you like to ask? Anybody else?

Audience: My understanding of mindfulness is that you have to be here and now. But it is very difficult to keep your thoughts always in the present. How to get there?

Rinpoche: Regarding your question, first of all, mindfulness; just be mindful. Whatever you are doing, do it consciously. Carefully adopt what is necessary and try not to make mistakes. Follow the right path so that we may experience what we desire for.  Regarding this, everyone – those who are here and those who are not here, even animals, we all desire for peace and happiness and we all do not desire for suffering. That is reality. It is not a culture of some countries or for some people. It is not a belief system. It is not just a religion. Those who are educated, uneducated, those who are rich, poor, those who have high status as well as those who have no status, we everybody desire to have peace and happiness and we everybody desire to free from suffering. That is reality. It transcends all different systems.

Because of that, everybody has the right to have peace and happiness, and everybody has the right to free from suffering. Peace and happiness that we desire for, and the suffering that we desire to free from, do not come just by wishing.  I wish I had peace and happiness or I wish I were free from suffering. It does not come. Also some religious people pray that we would be happy and free from suffering. Praying alone, we get answer sometimes, but most of the time, we do not. Because of that, everybody keeps busy looking for some solutions. What is the way how to create peace and happiness? What is the way to free from suffering? Not only human beings, even insects, birds and ants are so busy, keep looking for a better and safer place to stay, better food to eat. This is reality. It shows causality – cause and result. Causality is universal. We all know that we have to create the cause to bring peace and happiness. We all know that we have to create the cause to free from suffering. Now we analyze what is the cause for peace and happiness and what is the cause of suffering. Because every cause is not the cause to bring peace and happiness, not every cause is the cause to free ourselves from suffering, isn’t it? So we are analyzing, thinking. Returning to our question about those who are rich and those who have very high power, but still, they are not happy. They drive very expensive cars and they have lots of suffering. So what went wrong?  Strange, very paradoxical, isn’t it? Those who live in very expensive houses suffer terribly. There are some individuals who do not have anything, but they live happily. Why? You see. There is a specific cause for the specific result. This has nothing to do with belief systems. This is reality. That is why we have to investigate, we need education. That is why in the modern time, education is very important. Every country all over the world, try to set up better education system, school, universities, research center. Do research for what? Do research to find a better solution to bring about peace and happiness. For example, when there is a new type of disease that breaks out, the doctors have special laboratory to investigate. They spend millions of dollars just to get solution. It shows that there is a specific cause to bring the specific result. In reality, modern science plays an important role in society. When modern scientists say something, that can be very powerful, more powerful than religious belief. Because they go through lots of research in order to try to find something. Even then after some years, it changes, it is not getting better, then what to do?

Peace and happiness that we desire for, the five sensual objects – what you see from eyes, what you hear from ears, what you smell from nose, what we taste from tongue and what we touch from body—are very important for us to bring happiness and joy in the life. We are looking for beautiful place, beautiful people, beautiful sound system to listen to the music, fragrant smell and delicious food and beautiful clothes. Since we desire for all these things, we spend lots of energies for these developments. The business people will advertise: if you have such house, your life is so wonderful; if you have such car, your life will be beautiful. We try one after another, develop more, progress more, make better and provide more security; still suffering is not solved. Now what went wrong?  It is depressing, isn’t it? There is no solution. You work so hard, earn lot of money, but still not free from suffering. What to do now?

Audience: Go to see you.

Rinpoche: No, it’s the wrong place. Seeing me does not solve the problem. The opposite, you may suffer more and have more disappointment (laughing).

Now there is something called mind. Of course there are lots of different definitions of “mind”. Sometimes, scientists, neurologists said that brain is mind. Anyway, mind is consciousness. Conscious, be conscious of what you are thinking, what you are doing. That shows that mind is a little more than the brain. The brain and the heart are two things. Mind has two places – just as an example, brain is the office and heart is the home. When you go to office, you have to move your brain, you have to think a lot, analyzing what I should do, what is good, what is not good, what’s not right, this and that. All the mental activities are performed in the brain. Then there is something called heart. When the mind comes to the heart, you may say: I love you from my heart, I have compassion from my heart, or I hate you from my heart. Like these, lots of emotions. Some people say that brain is the mind. I think that that is very limited. First of all, your brain is so small but your thinking has no limit. You think so much, how the brain can handle all that. Just the brain itself cannot develop so much. The brain can develop some but mind is limitless – limitless of negative thoughts and limitless of positive thoughts. So the mind becomes very important. Every individual has his/her own mind. We all have our own mind. In reality, we share the same thing – we all desire for peace and happiness. We have no disagreement on that. There is nobody who does not like peace and happiness. We all desire to be free from suffering and we all share the same thing. Nobody will say that suffering is OK, isn’t it? For that we all agree. But now there is disagreement on for example, what is the cause of peace and happiness? What is the cause of suffering? Then depending on your own mental capacity and ability, you find your own way. One says that this is the cause for peace and happiness and this is the cause of suffering; but another one says no, not that one, I think that that is the way.  So we individuals have our own mental capacity to do that. Therefore, there come lots of disagreements. If it is brain alone, there should not be so many disagreements; some maybe, but not so many. Just because mind is limitless, limitless way of thinking, you find limitless ways of creating the causes for peace and happiness and avoiding the causes for suffering. There is short-term peace and happiness, and there is long-term, and absolute peace and happiness. Same for suffering, there is short term temporary suffering, long term, and very long-run suffering. It is possible. So that is the mind power. The brain can be shown in the laboratory by the machine, for example by showing brain movements etc, but the mind cannot be shown by the machine in the laboratory because consciousness is not matter. Matter has a limit but consciousness has no limit.

When it comes to the mind, when you have the right way of thinking, relaxing, there are ways to bring happiness and peace. It does not matter how much you have. There is no guarantee that if you have this much money, you have that much happiness or if you have that little amount of money, you have that much suffering, there is no guarantee either way. So you see, material things are necessary, you need food to eat, clothes to wear, a place to live, but how much do you need? For example, you look into your closet, how much clothes you have. To create some happiness, you think that if I wear this, I will be happier; if I wear this, people will respect me more, so in that way, I will be happier. Can you say that if you have hundred pairs, you will be very happy, and if you have fifty pairs, it is OK, but if you have few pairs, then you have no happiness at all? So there is no such measurement, isn’t it? So it shows that the outer materials are necessary to have, in a limited way, for survival. However, it is not the real solution for the suffering, very clear isn’t it? Now just look inside into the mind, how it makes the difference. It is very important. We individuals have the mind, it is not a belief. And we all individuals have our own mind, this is reality. So each individual has his/her own responsibility. Mind is a very complex subject.

Audience: When we try to do meditation practice, why is it so hard to get started? Why do we have all these excuses running around in the head all the time? I have to do this first and meditate later and so on. Why?

Rinpoche: We have lots of excuses – I am like this because of you, because of this and because of that. Lots of excuses all the time and lots of conflicts, isn’t it?

Audience: I know what is good for me but why am I not doing it?

Rinpoche: Exactly. Looks as if there are two things that are in conflict and they are quarrelling. Who wins? One mind says, “you should sit down and do some meditation”. The other says, ”no, you do this first”. So that wins. Then you try again to meditate and you say, “let me sit quietly for a few minutes”. But immediately, the other mind says, “no, no, no, no, first internet”. All these things you see. That is what I meant by mind being very complex - lots of thoughts and emotions, lots of thought processes manifesting one after the other without stopping. That is what I meant, as you can see that mind is more than the brain. Brain is where the mind functions, or the office of the mind where the mind is at work whereas the heart is where the mind relaxes, hopefully. So like those things.

Audience: Is it easier to have peace and happiness in your mind if you do not have so many things?

Rinpoche: Normally, we think that more is better, isn’t it? (laughing) When you do not have something, you wish to have it and you think that by having it, you will be happy. When you got all those things, then you feel, “oh, they make me crazy. Now I should simplify my life.”

Audience: The problem is craving. Don’t you have any craving when you see nice clothes that you want to buy?

Rinpoche: You go to the stores or shopping mall intending to just go there to take a look. Then when you see some nice clothes and nice shoes, you think, “maybe I want to have that.” Then at that moment, you ask yourself do you really need to have this before you buy.

Audience: Of course I do (laughter)

Rinpoche: When you have two other pairs of shoes already, why do I need this? I have already a couple pairs of shoes, it is good enough. I have some clothes already, it is good enough. Thinking this way helps you to set limits. When you have lots of pairs of shoes, it is difficult to make a decision which pairs you should wear. Then also, think about impermanence, everything changes every moment. This is again not a religious belief. It is the way how we live momentary. It is not a negative thing. If I die, what should I do with all the shoes and all the clothes? Attached so much to these, what should I do with these when I die? It is very helpful to think in this way. We know that we will die one day but nobody knows exactly when.  There is no guarantee from being young and not sick. Sometimes, the younger person dies earlier than those who are old, and the healthier person earlier than those who are sick. So there is no guarantee from that point of view. So now I have enough food to eat and I have enough clothes to wear and I have a place to live. I am so grateful and I am so fortunate. There are people in the world who die without food, die without clothes but I have a place to live, I am so fortunate. This is contentment, appreciation, so be mindful of appreciation and contentment, and that will really make you happy; otherwise, by acquiring more, there would be more suffering to handle them. You have so much in the bank, if you die today, what you will do with all these things? I am not saying that this as a negative thing, but practically, how to leave your mind in peace? Look at this. Live one day at a time, be mindful. Today I have time, I can eat food, I have a place to live, I am grateful. Otherwise, there are some powerful men or leaders of the country, they think that they are so powerful since they can rule the whole country; but then comes the next day, they become nothing. How much suffering they go through? To fulfill your craving, one way is to follow your craving, thinking that you will be happier by continuing buying.  This is one way to make you happy. Another way is through your appreciation, rejoicing and contentment. Contentment does not mean that you should not work. It means whatever you have, you appreciate and from that comes peace and happiness. You try and investigate these alternatives and see which way is better.

Audience: Sometimes we are afraid of the future. I have a job and income. I am very afraid that I will be unemployed. I am afraid of becoming old and poor. Then who will take care of me?

Rinpoche: There are other people who have no food to eat, no clothes to wear. So they wish, “if I today get lunch to eat, I will be so happy. If I have a piece of cloth to protect from the cold, I will be so happy.” For those who are in desperate situations, when they get a good lunch or a piece of cloth, they are so happy. Now for us who have a good place to live, plenty of lunches to eat for next year, now we worry for the second year, third year and so on. We keep calculating, but who knows which comes first. We are worrying. If I get a good car, I will be so happy. You bought a nice car, an expensive car.  The moment you get the car, “I am so happy because the car that I dreamed of for a long time, now I got it.” However, the same moment that you get the car, you start worrying about how to keep the car. There is no end. You have to get the car insurance. That means that you add a little more suffering. If my car is involved in an accident, if something is wrong with the car, I need the insurance. So you see like, this one after the other, there is no end, no limit.

Audience: Buddha said that there is suffering and suffering is part of life. Is it possible to be free from suffering?

Rinpoche: Yes, there is a possibility to free from suffering, but there is some work to do.

Audience: How many hours do you spend on meditation?

Rinpoche: I meditate some, every now and then, here and there.

Audience: How important is it to meditate to get the peace of mind?

Rinpoche: I think that it depends on the individual how much he/she gets used to it. For those who get so used to it, maybe it comes more or less effortlessly and every time they can easily get into the meditative state. Those who are like myself, always need reminding.

Audience: Is meditation a way to fight against this world to achieve peace and happiness?

Rinpoche: There are many types of mediation. One type is called analytical meditation. You analyze and you get used to it. Meditation means get used to it. It is not just to close the eyes and to empty the mind. Sometimes you use analysis. There are different approaches to achieve peace and happiness. We try different approaches and see which way is better, more effective. For example, impermanence, we know that someday we will die but we never plan to die tomorrow or next year. As a matter of fact, we plan to live for thousand years. You keep planning: first you do this and then that and so on. That means that we are not reflecting enough on the subject of impermanence – how fragile we are.

Reflecting on impermanence and live one day at a time, then you appreciate and rejoice what you have. You see, once we are born, we will age. So no matter how much you try, so far no one has found any solution to this, isn’t it? So as you get old, suffering of aging that you have studied will happen, so you accept it. There is no choice. Acceptance is also very important. Sometimes, we deny what is happening. Instead of denying, you accept. It helps. Suffering is there, physically but mentally less suffering. You will get sick, no doubt. Everybody gets sick, one way or another, then you accept; otherwise, you will question, why me? Why am I so sick? It does not do any good. You just accept. You do what you can. You go to the doctor and take the medicine. As for the pain, you just accept. Finally we will die. Even though we live hundred years, one day we will have to die, so we have to accept. Accepting is also one of the very important points for having some mental peace. If you deny these things, more suffering comes. While having physical pain, there will be more mental suffering and you blame someone else saying, “you are the one who did that, because of that I go through this, and so on.”

Audience: Children are young and they depend on you and you have to try all things.

Rinpoche: A child’s life is totally dependent on the mother, especially for the first three, four, five years, so mother has lots of responsibilities for that. Mother gives love to the child, compassion to the child. You try your best sincerely according to your capacity, but we cannot expect to find all solutions. Nonattachment also comes into play. Sometimes people think that nonattachment means does not care, which is not true. Actually, you can do better when you do not have attachment. When you have sincere type of love, not emotional, without attachment, you can do better, making less mistakes. When you have strong attachment, you make lots of mistakes. So, do it sincerely, not emotionally.

When you look at this, be mindful. Everybody is suffering in the world, so develop compassion. When somebody is shouting at you, that person is suffering – going through lots of mental suffering. If that person has mental peace, he/she will not shout. Look at that.

Audience: Do you agree that maybe in the west, we do not want to talk about mortality because we do not interact with people who are dying in this society. We do not see dead people or be with them as much when they are dying. It is something that we don’t know much about.

Rinpoche: Yes, death is something very mysterious. After death, you do not know. If one follows the belief system, then according to this belief system, then it goes this way. But in reality, it is not just the belief system. It is like when you go to sleep, during sleep, consciousness continues even though you are unconscious physically. In the sleep, you have dreams and all that you go through. It is not a belief system, isn’t it? Likewise when you die, physically you are dead but consciousness, the mind continues. Therefore, it is very important to accept those things and learn how to die peacefully. By avoiding or ignoring does not help us to solve the problem. Instead when you die, learn how to die peacefully, how to accept it. Blaming somebody else does not solve the problem. We individually have to go through it ourselves.

Audience: How can there be love without emotion?

Rinpoche: Emotional love is related to attachment. What I meant was that since everybody desire for peace and happiness so from that point of view, you develop love. I wish everyone has peace and happiness. You love someone means you care and you want that person to be happy. So based on reason, you apply universal kind of love, everybody including animals. Then that love has such a great power. When you develop that mind, there is great peace. It becomes a source of peace. So there is a big difference.

Audience: Don’t you think that it is very difficult to feel love to those people who abuse children, who abuse animals?

Rinpoche: Yes, it is very terrible. It is not right thing to do. But there is a way for you to develop love to that individual, not because of the terrible things that he did, that need to be corrected, but that individual also desire for peace and happiness. There is a famous saying: “We all desire for peace and happiness but we destroy them as if they were enemies due to ignorance. We all desire to free from suffering but we chase the suffering as if they were friends due to ignorance.” That is such a beautiful quotation that we can apply everywhere even to ourselves.

Audience: Do you feel compassion to those who do horrible things?

Rinpoche: You can develop compassion for them. When they make mistakes, it does not mean that you accept their wrongdoings or stop develop compassion for them. That person who make mistakes is making a mess, creating suffering for others and suffering for himself/herself. He/she does not know how to create good situation because of bewilderment.

Regarding education system, it is very important to have classes not just on technical things like mathematics, how to calculate and so on, but also have classes on how to develop loving kindness, compassion to all others, and especially class on ethics. It is very important. Ethics means creating the right cause, not exploiting others for your own benefit.

Audience: You talked about that we have our responsibility. Can you explain more on that?

Rinpoche: Yes, every individual has responsibility. My peace and happiness for example, the responsibility is totally mine. I have to handle my situation. There is no guarantee because I am a monk. If I am not taking responsibility, wearing robe does not guarantee anything.

Audience: If I repeat fifty times per day that I am happy, do you think that my brain will get used to thinking in that way or is it in vain?

Rinpoche: It may help you but you have to create the cause for happiness as well. While you are practicing contentment, “I am so fortunate”, you have to create the cause. Without cause, it is not possible. For example, I am not Buddha, so even if I repeat a hundred thousand times “I am a Buddha”, it would not happen. I have to work to become Buddha.

Audience: In the beginning, you said that we should live day by day and follow the right path, but how can we know whether or not we are following the right path?

Rinpoche: There are ten virtues. Ten virtues are:

1. Not taking lives

2. Not stealing

3. No sexual misconduct

4. Not lying

5. No harsh words

6. No divisive speech

7. No idle talk

8. Practicing contentment

9. Practicing loving kindness and compassion

10. Understanding and practicing action of causality.

They are universal causes for peace and happiness. We have to practice them.

Ten non-virtues are just the opposites – taking lives, stealing from others, engaging in sexual misconduct, lying, using harsh word, divisive speech, idle talk, covetousness, wrong view and harmful thoughts. They are called non-virtues because they bring suffering to others and to yourself. Be mindful on these things. Look at the ten virtues, see how they can bring about harmony in society. Not by law. No matter how many laws are passed, if people and government officials are not practicing virtuous deeds, there is no use. Look at universal law for peace and happiness, universal law for suffering. If everyone practices the ten virtues and everyone try to abstain from the causes of suffering, that is the real wealth and cause to bring happiness for ourselves and for others.

Audience: Is war in Iraq a good thing if there is good intention?

Rinpoche: Making war may not be the solution for the country. You may have good intention but you have to look at the real cause. Good intention, good cause, good action, good conclusion. All are required.

Audience: How can we know that it is a good cause?

Rinpoche: You have to investigate. We use our intelligence to see if it is the right cause or not. For immediate remedy, it may look like it is a good solution to just bomb and then conquer the enemy. But conflicts continue, sometimes it may even get worse. For example, making all these weapons like missiles and nuclear bombs, there is good intention to protect, to bring peace; but we are making war to bring peace. What do you think about that? Very paradoxical, isn’t it? Right from the beginning, making weapons to kill is not right since it is not a right thing to kill. When you kill someone, the individual or the country will defend themselves. Then there comes a series of conflicts. Then the development of defense system and weapons become more and more sophisticated. These are made out of ignorance, not knowing what the right way is to make peace and happiness.

The ten virtues, if every country applies that, they will be the real causes for peace and happiness. It has nothing to do with culture or religious belief system. Even in the family, if they practice the ten virtues, there will be peace and respect for each other, regardless if they believe in any religion or not.

Audience: Ten virtues. Can you explain more?

Rinpoche: First you minimize the ten non-virtues, slowly, slowly, step by step and see for yourself how it makes sense to you. This is called the analytical meditation. You analyze and investigate to see whether or not the ten virtues are the cause of peace and happiness or not. If you practice those, will there be peace or not? That is meditation. That is mindfulness. For example, if you shout at others that you dislike, does that become a cause of peace and happiness? Or is it a cause of suffering?  Just examine that. If you express your anger to others, is that a cause of peace and happiness, or not? Do they appreciate it or not? Nobody will appreciate your expression of anger. You want peace but you shout at others to make peace and say that they are wrong, then how can you gain and create peace?

Audience: What is your advice if somebody has relative who is an alcoholic, and becomes very aggressive? We cannot do anything. Do you recommend to stop seeing that person altogether?

Rinpoche: That is why one should not get oneself intoxicated, once you get intoxicated, your mind is out of balance. Therefore intoxication is not a cause of peace and happiness. Individuals may drink to relax but there is much confusion and suffering. First you try different ways. You can give advice to that person, advising him not to drink, “drinking is not healthy for the family, not just for yourself, everybody around you suffers”. If that individual is not ready to listen, then tell him “for the time being, we are not seeing you”, like that, skillfully out of your concern. There may be a possibility.

Audience: If you have an alcoholic or someone that you are close to, perhaps not an alcoholic, but who do harm to you, lying to you and make you sad. What should you do?

Rinpoche: It is a dilemma. First of all, you yourself should be good and in a good position. Then you try to advice the individual, “this is a good way for your benefit and for people around you. You think about this.”  So you do those things. If the person is accepting, wonderful, but if that person is still not accepting, you have no regret. I have done what I could. I have tried my best what I could. Being angry does not solve the problem. If the person can be changed, there is no need to be upset or angry. It is a good thing because it can be changed. If the person cannot be changed, how can anger help? What is the point of being upset? Look to yourself, I have to accept since there is no choice and I have done what I could. It is not a sign of weakness. Some people think that not getting upset or angry is a sign of weakness. Actually, getting angry in the mind, becoming furious in the mind is a sign of weakness because it brings all the suffering. Keeping the mind calm and peaceful is very hard. That is the strength of the mind. Do all things what you can to solve the problem. If it cannot be solved, what can you do?

Audience: Before carrying out my action with the intention to create peace and happiness, does it mean that I have to be mindful all the time?

Rinpoche: First, with the support and practice of mindfulness, keep your mind in peace and at ease. It is important. Then with that, create peace and happiness for others with mindfulness. That is the right thing to do.

Audience: If something happens, I get irritated. What should I do? Should I pretend that I am not irritated?

Rinpoche: Mindfulness is so crucial. When things are happening, before irritation comes, you prepare yourself not to get irritated. Look at the situation, reflecting that irritation does not solve the problem. So I will not give chance to irritate myself. That is the best choice. In case it comes, instead of controlling the irritation, you ask yourself what is the use of being irritated, it disturbs my mind. It does not help anybody. Just look at this, so irritation does not have so much effect. This is the way how to implement mindfulness. Then overall, remember impermanence, everything is impermanent, going up and down, back and forth. Therefore, we individually, everybody has opportunity and ability to improve because of impermanence. If things are permanent, you cannot change. Because of impermanence, if you make effort, put our interest in it, we can change. Everyone has the inner human value to improve ourselves, to do better.  What is important is that in our mind we are determined “yes, I can do, yes, I can develop, yes, I can improve myself to get better”.

Audience: You mentioned, “yes, I can do it” but my bad habits have followed me for many many years. So even if I said today that I will do it this way, it is difficult. Do you have any tricks?

Rinpoche: Yes, there are many tricks (laughter). First of all, look at your bad habits, how much they make you miserable. These bad habits that I have, even though I am so used to follow along, it does not bring any benefit to my life. It ruins my life and it wastes my energies. Look at that. Then those bad habits are impermanent. They do not come all the way from somewhere, it’s just temporarily you got so used to it. So it is called habit, so I can change the habit. Impermanence means no essence, it is momentary, temporary. Habit is transitory in nature, it is impermanent, it is illusion, illusory manifested. If you are Buddhist practitioner, you use bodhicitta, emptiness and so on, if you know those things. Yes, it can be changed. It is just a matter of time.

Audience: Somebody did something very wrong and you get very angry. When I do something wrong, I feel guilty.  Maybe these kinds of feelings have a function to regulate the behavior.

Rinpoche: You are angry because you saw somebody making mistakes, then you are angry. My anger or irritation, look at that, it is very temporary depending on many causes and conditions. It manifests out of causes and conditions. It is temporary. At that time, you look at the anger how much it helps you. Does your anger help you to solve the problem or not?  I guess not. But it makes you miserable. When you are angry, you cannot really see the right thing because your anger takes you to one side. It does not allow you to have clear thinking, ability to judge well, so it disturbs your mind and it disturbs others. It makes things more difficult. So if other person makes mistakes, the best way for you is to give advice.

If you are doing something wrong, you should correct yourself instead of getting angry. I made this mistake that I should not repeat again. It comes out of bad habits and it is called inveterate propensities, deeply rooted bad habits manifest repeatedly, so I should change it. I should not repeat it again.

For example, like parents when the kids are not doing what they are supposed to do, they get angry. It is out of concern, but not really necessary to have anger. These negative emotions – anger, pride, jealousy and strong attachment, are not good for the body, not good for the mind, not good for health. They can ruin the immune system. On the other hand, if you practice loving kindness, compassion, appreciation, rejoicing, contentment, they strengthen the immune system, physically, and bring mental good health.

Audience: If someone treats or hurts you badly, it is that person’s problem but how you react/respond is your own responsibility/path.

Rinpoche: You try what you can, there is no one answer for all the problems. When each problem arises, use your intellect to analyze how it manifests. Even when one question is asked by two different persons, there can be two different answers. Depending on the individual, there will be different answers depending on the individual, situation and mental state. First, our mind is so profound, very complex and complicated, but at the same time very simple, it is paradoxical. Today I like this table so much, tomorrow I do not like it. Why? What is the reason? That is the complexity of the mind. If I like this table, I should like it forever, but that is not the case, you see.

Audience: According to you, is it good to push yourself and challenge yourself? For example, in the evening, I am tired and I get irritated. Should I be nice to myself and withdraw or should I try to challenge myself to see if I can overcome it?

Rinpoche: Don’t push yourself too far, do what you can. If you push too far, your nerve system breaks. You do not want that. You treat yourself kindly and nicely, but not too lazy either.

Audience: Something not so clear to me in Buddhism, what are my rights versus my obligations.

Rinpoche: This is not just Buddhists, this is universal. Everybody has their own responsibility. Everyone has obligations and rights. Everyone has the right to be happy and free from suffering. Because of that everybody has the responsibility to create causes for peace and happiness, and the responsibility to create the causes to be free from suffering. It is not a belief system. This is a practical approach. For example, in your kitchen, you have the right to have a good dish, but now it is your responsibility to create a good dish. It is not a belief. This is how you can do things.



May all sentient beings gain the flavor of supreme knowledge,
that the unexcelled joy of truth fill their minds and bodies;
May all sentient beings obtain all the excellent flavors of nonattachment,
and not be addicted to mundane tastes, but always diligently cultivate and practice all aspects of Buddhahood;
May all sentient beings gain the flavor of one truth
and realize that all Buddha teachings are without difference;

Last updated on 2013-12-15.