Friday, May 14, 2010

Phakchok Rinpoche on being tolerant

This is an except of an interview we had with Phakchok Rinpoche last summer.
Because Phakchok Rinpoche is only 28 years old, he is the perfect lama to ask those questions that young people have!

Question: Many of us experience pressure from society, friends or family, to have a 'normal life'. Like going to parties, to get a good education, have a good job, and so on. But our wish is to practice Dharma more intensively, so how can we deal with that pressure?

Don't be too defensive

Phakchok Rinpoche: That's very easy. But this question looks like it has quite a few questions inside. I think it's like this: Buddha's teaching is very liberal, very tolerant.
For example, if somebody comes to tell me, 'You know, I think Buddhism is quite stupid'. I'm not going to defend at all. I ask, 'OK, why do you think so?'
I'm just going to explain. If they don't want to listen, that's fine. I'm never going to defend the teachings. I'm not going to defend what is right or wrong because that shows the colour of your mind is not tolerant. You are more attached to your things, your view, and you're exactly the same. Everybody's like that.

Dharma teaches us not to be attached to anything. What I'm saying is, don't try to create problems through your belief system and attachments.
So when your family tells you to study... Family is important, don't try to go against them right away. Do with skillful means, you know.
For example, Iwent to Israel one time, I have a few people there telling me, 'my family's telling us they're not happy because we don't wear a kippah' [Jewish religious cap]. 'I don't want to wear a kippah, because I like to practice Buddhism'.

Wearing a kippah, makes you not Buddhist? My question is very simple. Then I told them, 'I give you very good method. You take your kippah and you put 'om mani padme hung' on the inside, then wear it'. Then because of kippah God can see you, and 'om mani padme hung' blessed your thing as well! Not bad... It's just a little joke, but it's just a way to make their thinking a little bit softer, they're too much defending.

Be skillful
And sometimes I tell people who have very orthodox families, you know, “They want to see you in church? Go! Make them happy!” What's wrong with that? I tell people like this, “Be tolerant!” Don't be too strict in yourself. I think, it's not healthy.

You earn your money, everything is good, your family's happy. Then you say 'OK, now I want to go to on one year retreat, this is my deep wish.' They're going to respect you too. If you fight saying, 'I want this, it's my right', they might say 'OK' but in their heart they're saying, 'Oh, I have my son, now not listening to me, because of this stupid Buddhism.' 'Now, my daughter I love so much, because of this stupid Tibetan monk came, I don't know what he taught, now she says she's going to change her life completely'.
That is not good. You should slowly move in... They are human beings, they can understand. But sometimes if they really don't understand, it doesn't matter, make them happy. What they want to see you do, try to do that. At the same time, you make your own time to practice. Show how tolerant your mind is, this is the thing I want to say, bottom line: show how tolerant you are.

You want to be a serious practitioner? Do your work or study, and also practice every day, as much as you can. And you plan a time for retreat... one month, two months, after five years work, you go like six months or whole year on retreat. You know, slowly, slowly.. Do that. I think it's very good.

Rigpa Youth group in Lerab LingDon't try to convert people
You should be very liberal so when family or friends tell you to go to party, you should go. Go, it doesn't matter, there's nothing wrong with going to a party! But going to a party, being wild like them, then there's something wrong. Go to party, act a little wild but don't really be wild. In the party you have a drink and talk, it's very nice, yeah, you know, 'life is impermanent'. So you already give some Dharma there. 'Don't be too selfish, it's not good, it's going to be painful for you'.

Honestly, when you do like that, then slowly they'll understand. Then slowly, they will say 'You know, I have some problem with my life... A while ago, I think you said something about being selfish. Who taught you that?' Ah, so then you can share some Dharma! But don't go trying to convert them... don't be like that.

Dharma is very liberal

Because honestly, what is Buddhadharma? Buddhadharma says very clearly, 'Don't do evil deeds, actions that make other people suffer and yourself suffer. Do good things, actions that make other people happy and yourself happy. But most important is to tame your mind, that is the Buddhadharma'.
Where did Buddha say, 'Believe me, that's the Buddhadharma'? Where did Buddha say, 'Kill people, this is the Buddhadharma'? Where did Buddha say, 'Torture yourself, that's Buddhadharma'? Where did Buddha say, 'Keep your anger all the time, that's the Dharma'? Buddha never said that.
Buddha said, 'Tame your mind', that is the Buddhadharma, so that is your job.

Buddha also says, whatever I've taught you, don't put the teachings right away in your head. Examine, examine if my teachings make sense or not, like a goldsmith checks the gold. Is it really gold or not? And if you see it's the real gold, then you keep it.
In some verses he says, 'I've shown you the path, whether you want to follow or not, it's your choice!' From the beginning Buddha is very liberal. So if we try to be too strict, I think it's not good, we should be a little bit liberal.

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