Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A better future, from HH 17 Th Karmapa

“Our hope for a better future places a heavy responsibility on the younger generation. How to meet this challenge? Try to educate yourself in areas that will benefit society. Take up spiritual disciplines that open your heart and mind.

Cooperate with others and establish harmonious relations with people regardless of ethnicity, gender, or age.

Do everything you can to stop the misuse of our natural resources and the senseless destruction of our environment. With ethical discernment, you -the youth of today- can create prosperity for the world and humankind. Otherwise our future is bleak “

From “The future is Now, Timely advice for creating a better world..."

“One of the most important and revered figures in Tibetan Buddhism, the Karmapa shows how the wisdom of an ancient tradition resonates with our fast-paced,globally connected lives. His advice, insights and reflections on topics ranging from the environment and social responsibility to relationships and freedom are Juxtaposed with bold and often unexpected contemporary images, which illuminate the timeless teachings of Tibetan Buddhism. Open to any page and find guidance on how to live more consciously and caringly , and learn how to create a better world for yourself and future generations”

See also an Inteview with Ringu Tulku Rinpoche speaking about this amazing book!

And enjoy it!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Four Reminders

"If we are reminded of these Four Thoughts and really integrate this
understanding and change our attitude, that alone can transform our life.
We can become a more responsible, joyful and understanding person."

1) Life is precious
How happy and satisfied we are, depends on how much we appreciate what we

2) Impermanence
There is nothing that doesn't change. That's the nature of life. The more
we see this clearly, the more we can let things be. There's no use holding
on too much to either negative things or positive things that happen to us

3) Samsara
All of us have selfishness, greed, agression and ignorance. Nobody is
perfect. Therefore we can be forgiving and have compassion for those who
do negative things.
There's lots of pain and suffering in the world around us. The more we
understand that, the more we don't expect things to be perfect.

4) Karma
Everything has causes and conditions. I am responsible for myself. What I
am now, is because of what I have done. What I will be is because of what
I do now. So therefore, my future is, in a way, in my hands. So I have to think and
act in a positive way.

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.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Interview with Erik Pema Kunsang

At the end of the three year retreat Rigpa Youth had the fortune of interviewing -in Patrick Gaffney's words- the "translating phenomena" Erik Pema Kunsang. After a little bit of delay we are very happy that we finally have the interview in written form, and so we are able to share it with you!

Erik spoke about his own youth and what renunciation means. He gave a lot of advice for young people, how to handle parents and how to benefit others. He talked about translating and being a translator, and much more. Please take a comfortable seat before you start reading, because it's ten pages.

Much gratitude to Erik for his time and his help with editing!

For the complete interview click here

An extract:

[Student] How was it for you to come to the dharma so young and also in a time when not many other people where in the dharma?

The first thing that comes to mind is two things. This is not a formal lecture, just some brief ideas to introduce. As I understand, dharma is two different things that are connected: dharma as reality, and dharma as the Buddhist toolbox, which connects with the reality we’re supposed to realize.

The Buddhist teachings are a very pragmatic way of approaching reality but the most important thing is of course, what’s real. As a young person , one is very curious, not necessarily towards Buddhism, because it’s an area which often is weird, like Buddhists are often weird, right? They do strange things, sometimes they dress funny, and they get weirder than before as they become Buddhist, for a while. That was how it was before. Before you could hang out with your friends and enjoy, and go to a party, and then you became Buddhist…you don’t call your friends, they feel that you hate them, because they’re just normal people, and you have become holy, because you’re focusing too much on the dharma as a religion, as a system , rather than on the dharma as reality, which was supposed to be the main point, according to the Buddha.

The Buddha didn’t emphasize the teachings is the main point, but the realization of what is. But it’s very hard to start with reality, because there is no handle on it, so the dharma is designed so that it fits your concepts, so that you can catch hold of it, with something to read, something to see, something to talk about, something to actually do, whereas reality is very flimsy. It slips away.

But what you always were interested in, and all your friends were interested in, is the dharma as reality. So don’t lose that just because you become Buddhist. Keep as your basis, “I want to understand what it’s all about, not the Buddhist side, but all of that which we are, what my friends are, what my family is, what the world is. That’s what I want to figure out.” Then you always have a shared basis with everybody, family, friends, everybody, and you can always communicate. If they ask you, and they for sure do, if they haven’t gotten to it yet, is “what are you actually doing there? What is this Buddhism thing? ” And then you should be able to give a one sentence reply that doesn’t make them look the other way and not answer your phone call next time – a reply that makes real sense to them, not just to you. “Well I like Sogyal Rinpoche and the other lamas.” That’s not a reply they will necessarily relate to.

Perhaps one or two of them will like to come along, and when they come in to Harry Potter’s castle, they ask: “Is it real?” and you say “Yes it is.” Then they expect people to take out magic-wands. But what Buddhism is about is the opposite of that, being true and real, sane and natural. That’s what youthfulness is about: no expiry date. Manjushri is called the ever-youthful. In a large portion of the Buddhist canon that’s the first sentence at the beginning of a sutra' homage to the ever youthful Manjushri,. Youth means having a live, intelligent quality, alive, vibrant, an always up-to-date insight. And everybody can relate to that vibrant quality.

That was an introduction to the meeting point between your world and people and Dharma, and about staying young. Tsoknyi Rinpoche also talked about that today, about not losing the spark. I found that I became a little weird after becoming a Buddhist. It was so much easier for me to be in the natural state before becoming a Buddhist. Which is sad, in a way. It took me five or six years before I found out that what the lamas where talking about was what I used to be, before I began formal practices. Perhaps I had connected with some wrong, well not wrong but very gradual-approach type teachers, who said “you cannot realize it, not in this lifetime, it takes many lives.” Even the idea of the awakened state being accessible was completely out of their world, which is actually quite sad.

For young people I think it’s often somewhat easy to access the natural state, as they are spontaneous, natural, free in their attitude, because it’s something that is very close--it’s what we actually are. Isn’t it? A happy, free approach, which is very close to Dzogchen and Mahamudra.

Most of what we have learned, what we are supposed to when we walk into a situation, is to be unnatural, and contained. Even as a Buddhist practitioner we could be taught to become something like a fossil, fossilized human being--not in actual teachings but it’s kind of in the air in many groups--that “now you don’t party anymore, you don’t go out.” Stuff like that. Then one thinks that one has to keep to a very rigid range, not just on voice and body language, but on the mind as well. This is true to some extent, but not deeply within. An area of oneself has to remain free and young, while another area has to be rained in a bit. Not to bang into each other. But the youthfulness disappears when these two areas get confused, worried wrinkles begin to appear. I got wrinkles already when I was 20, trying to look devoted (Erik makes a face). I was in a group where people made such faces when they showed sincerity and I just imitate that way. I see you don’t have that problem, luckily.