Dear Noble Sangha,
A week ago on Wednesday I gave my last Dharma Talk at RMI before leaving to join my teacher, the Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, as his attendant. Some of you asked for highlights from that talk. Here they are:
Lucinda asked me to list a few of my favorite teachings, quotes, or suttas. Here are the quotes I shared:
“Each moment conditions the next.”
This quotes summarizes so much of the Buddha’s teachings on cause and effect. It is a powerful teaching with so much practical utility. Working with our mind is of the utmost importance in Buddhism, and this quote sheds some light on how to do that. We start by working with the causes and conditions of right now. We start with this moment. What we do in this moment will condition the next. We have some choice right now, maybe not 100% freedom, maybe only 1%. Still, we have a choice and our intentional actions (karma) matter. They make a difference.
“Cling to nothing whatsoever.”
When asked if he could sum up all of his teachings in one sentence, the Buddha said that he could. His answer: “Cling to nothing whatsoever.” He went on to say that if a person learned this one point of Dharma they had learned all Dharma, if they practiced this one point, they had practiced all Dharma, and if they acheived the full fruition of this one point, then they had acheived the full fruition of the path. This essential point hits the source of suffering on the head, clinging, and gives the simplest antidote: let go. Every other teaching is just a skillful way to get us to just let go. If we can drop clinging, drop craving, drop grasping, then that is all there is to do.
“Never give up.”
-The 14th Dalai Lama
Lucinda asked what piece of advice would I give to the Sangha at RMI. This is my one piece of advice. It comes from the 14th Dalai Lama. I used to have a piece of artwork hanging in my house that had this quote in greater detail, but this is the essential point: never give up. Never give up on your path, your practice, your self, or other sentient beings. Do not worry about how long or how difficult or how complicated the path to liberation might be. Set your mind firmly to the goal and resolve never to give up.
Finally, I would like to add something I did not cover in the talk:
“As a mother would risk her life to proctect her child, her only child, even so should one cultivate a limitless heart with regard to all beings.”
Loving-kindness is a cornerstone of Dharma. We should cherish other beings as if they were our only child. Rinpoche has often taught on the importance of making, what he calls, “a genuine heart connection” with beings. This means going beyond just meditating or thinking about compassion or metta or Bodhichitta, but cultivating an authentic love for others. This love is not based on ego-centric ideas of friend and foe, good and bad. We connect like a mother to her child, loving other beings with unconditional positive regard. I think this relates to the idea of Charitas in Greek, the definition of which is “undeserved kindness.” I think that is such a beautiful definition. Undeserved kindness. Metta does not ask you to prove your worthiness in order to receive it. Each being is inherently worthy of our kindness, love, and compassion.
May each of you grow in wisdom and compassion. May your path flourish and all those you come into contact with know kindness and peace.
And no matter how dark or difficult or hopeless your situation may be:
Never give up.