by Venerable Khenchen Konchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche
San Francisco, 1996
We should reflect on how precious the Dharma is. Even though we are in samsara, where there are endless sufferings and infinite causes of suffering, the Dharma that we study and practice is a complete method to dispel it all. If we use our time and energy with dedication, then it is just a matter of time before we completely realize the path. Because Dharma explains the complete nature of samsara and enlightenment, we should appreciate how precious it is to us.
The Dharma that the Buddha taught is not just a belief system, but is based on reason. Because it is based on reason, we can investigate it, practice it and apply it in our meditations. Investigate does not necessarily means look for mistakes in the teachings. Here, investigate means to personally understand it, to really know the Dharma and to practice it. Sometimes, you may hear someone say that even the Buddha’s words should be investigated. You may take this to mean that you should dig out or search for mistakes in the Buddha’s teachings. But what it actually means here is to scrutinize the teachings yourself with an open mind. Go through them and understand what is right and what is wrong, what is suffering and what is the cause of suffering, and then apply that understanding in practice. That is how the Dharma can be seen to be precious.
As long as there is delusion in the mind of sentient beings, it does not matter what path that person follows, what he or she believe or do not believe, there is suffering. As long as there is wisdom and compassion in a sentient being’s mind, there is harmony. This is what I mentioned before that Dharma explains the whole constitution of samsara and nirvana. This is why I usually say that Buddhism is not just for Buddhists. Buddhism is for every sentient being. When we say prayers, we do not say, “May all Buddhists have peace and happiness.” We say, “May all mother sentient beings.” This is a very important point. Buddha taught the teachings based on the wish to have happiness and to be free from suffering, and to have the cause of happiness and to be free from the cause of suffering. Sometimes, we think Buddhism is Buddha’s creation, just Buddha’s tradition. But basically, it is the tradition of the whole universe. All sentient beings want to be free from suffering and wish for happiness. Of that level, there is no difference. But sometimes we fail to recognize what suffering is and what causes suffering, what real happiness is and what causes such happiness. To dispel that kind of delusion, we need to study and investigate.
Take anger, for example, anyone who has anger experiences some feeling of suffering. This applies to everyone buddhists or non-buddhist, even dogs. When anger is there, the dog’s face changes, doesn’t it? This shows that there is some pain. This type of understanding is very important. When we know this kind of universal law, how the whole universe is constituted, we will know how to be sincere to ourselves. Otherwise, we will want to have happiness, we will want to be free from suffering, but we do not know how to do it. Shantideva once said, “We desire joy and happiness, but we destroy them as if they were our enemies.” But with proper understanding, we would not destroy our happiness and we would not chase after suffering. Usually we make so much effort only to end up with more suffering. Milarepa observed, “to free ourselves from suffering, we make more suffering.” So Dharma teachings help us to have this awareness, this wisdom.
Based on that, we can develop devotion to Dharma. We can feel fortunate about meeting the Dharma. “Even though samsara is the state of suffering. I am so fortunate to have this precious human life and to have met the Dharma teachings. If I make effort, there is a definite way out of suffering.” So I think this understanding is also very important. The Dharma is not just one kind of culture, one tradition. Understand how Dharma is the law of the universe, the method to know what all suffering is, what the cause of suffering is, what all happiness is, and what the path to achieve happiness is.
Otherwise, Dharma teachings can become another cause of suffering. Without knowing how to practice Dharma, we have such high expectations. Or we misuse Dharma teachings, then after some time there is a danger to give them up. After practicing five years, ten years, then you give up Dharma teachings. Have you seen them? I have met many people like that. It is kind of unfortunate, isn’t it? So I think we need to have basic foundation. It is very important at the beginning, in the middle and at the end. Otherwise, we are building castles on sand or rice.
|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 on2008-01-06