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Posts Tagged "lama yeshe"
There are 26 results found
“In January 1974 His Holiness the Dalai Lama bestowed the Kalachakra (Wheel of Time) initiation for the fifth time in his life, and the third since leaving Tibet,” writes Adele Hulse, author of Big Love, the forthcoming biography of FPMT founder Lama Thubten Yeshe. Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive will publish Big Love later this year and has been sharing excerpts from the book on their Big Love blog. The following is from a recent post:
The profound Kalachakra Tantra, a pathway to full enlightenment, contains elements of astrology, medicine, and mathematics. Over 100,000 Tibetans descended on Bodhgaya. They came by train, bus, rickshaw, and on foot from many places inside and outside India: Dharamsala, Darjeeling, Dalhousie, Mysore, and Bangalore; from Ladakh, Bhutan, Sikkim, Nepal, and Tibet, many of them wearing local costumes and jewelry. Tent cities sprang up with bustling restaurants serving all types of Tibetan and Indian food — momos (Tibetan meat dumplings), thukpa (Tibetan meat stew), samosas, chai, and the like — alongside market stalls selling clothes, religious objects, and antiques. It was a scene out of National Geographic magazine.
Several hundred Westerners also poured into Bodhgaya for the initiation. Many of them stayed in the Tibetan tent-restaurants, which allowed people to sleep on the wide benches at night. The hippies in their motley garb mixed easily with the wild folk from the mountains, the men in sheepskin trousers, their long plaits woven with red ribbon. For many Tibetans it was their first sight of the Dalai Lama. They prostrated and cried loudly. All day and all night pilgrims circumambulated the Mahabodhi stupa on its three different walkways, many prostrating all the way around.
Everybody at Kopan who could get to Bodhgaya went there. When asked to explain the Kalachakra initiation, Lama Yeshe became very serious, telling the students this was not something they should take lightly. …
FPMT founder Lama Yeshe gets to the heart of karma and the ways in which we act based on “hallucinated fantasy.”
“We often talk about how we waste our lives following the eight worldly dharmas – attachment to temporal happiness, receiving material things, being praised, and having a good reputation – and aversion to their opposites – discomfort, not getting things, being criticized, and notoriety. Each time we get involved with those, we create negative karma….”
From Mandala April-May 2004.
- Tagged: lama yeshe
A few words from Lama Yeshe, the founder of FPMT, on the difference between the absolute and relative guru.
From Mandala June-August 2002.
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Lama Yeshe’s talk in Berkeley, California, in the summer of 1983 was given at a time when the world was in a state of anxiety about the threat of nuclear war.
From Mandala March-May 2002.
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Lama Thubten Yeshe gave this teaching in Brisbane, Australia, in April, 1975. Edited by Nicholas Ribush.
Many people misunderstand Buddhism. Even some professors of Buddhist studies look at just the words and interpret what the Buddha taught very literally. They don’t understand his methods, which are the real essence of his teachings. In my opinion, the most important aspect of any religion is its methods: how to put that religion into your own experience. The better you understand that, the more effective your religion becomes. Your practice becomes so natural, so realistic; you easily come to understand your own nature, your own mind, and you don’t get surprised by whatever you find in it. Then, when you understand the nature of your own mind, you’ll be able to control it naturally; you won’t have to push so hard; understanding naturally brings control.
Many people will imagine that control of the mind is some kind of tight, restrictive bondage. Actually, control is a natural state. But you’re not going to say that, are you? You’re going to say that the mind is uncontrolled by nature, that it is natural for the mind to be uncontrolled. But it’s not. When you realize the nature of your uncontrolled mind, control comes as naturally as your present uncontrolled state arises. Moreover, the only way to gain control over your mind is to understand its nature. You can never force your mind, your internal world, to change. Nor can you purify your mind, by punishing yourself physically, by beating your body. That’s totally impossible. Impurity, sin, negativity or whatever else you want to call it is psychological, a mental phenomenon, so you can’t stop it physically. Purification requires a skillful combination of method and wisdom.
To purify your mind, you don’t have to believe in something special up there—God, or Buddha. Don’t worry about that. When you truly realize the up and down nature of your everyday life, the characteristic nature of your own mental attitude, you’ll automatically want to implement a solution.
These days, many people are disillusioned with religion; they seem to think it doesn’t work. Religion works. It offers fantastic solutions to all your problems. The problem is that people don’t understand the characteristic nature of religion, so they don’t have the will to implement its methods.
Consider the materialistic life. It’s a state of complete agitation and conflict. You can never fix things to be the way you want. You can’t just wake up in the morning and decide exactly how you want your day to unfold. Forget about weeks, months, or years; you can’t even predetermine one day. If I were to ask you right now if can you get up in the morning and set exactly how your day was going to go, how you were going to feel each moment, what would you say? There’s no way you can do that, is there?
No matter how much you make yourself materially comfortable, no matter how you arrange your house—you have this, you have that; you put one thing here, you put another there—you can never manipulate your mind in the same way. You can never determine the way you’re going to feel all day. How can you fix your mind like that? How can you say, “Today I’m going to be like this”? I can tell you with absolute certainty, as long as your mind is uncontrolled, agitated and dualistic, there’s no way; it’s impossible. When I say this, I’m not putting you down; I’m just talking about the way the mind works.
What all this goes to show is that no matter how much you tell yourself, “Oh, this makes me happy, today I’m going to be happy all day long,” it’s impossible to predetermine your life like that. Automatically, your feelings keep changing, changing, changing. This demonstrates clearly that the materialistic life doesn’t work. However, I don’t mean that you should renounce the worldly life and become ascetics. That’s not what I’m saying. My point is that if you understand spiritual principles correctly and act accordingly, you will find much greater satisfaction and meaning in your life than you will by relying on the sense world alone. The sense world alone cannot satisfy the human mind.
Thus, the only purpose for the existence of what we call religion is for us to understand the nature of our own psyche, our own mind, our own feelings. Whatever name we give to our spiritual path, the most important thing is that we get to know our own experiences, our own feelings. Therefore, the lamas’ experience of Buddhism is that instead of emphasizing belief, it places prime importance on personal experimentation, putting Dharma methods into action and assessing the effect they have on our minds: do these methods help? Have our minds changed or are they just as uncontrolled as they ever were? This is Buddhism, and this method of checking the mind is called meditation.
It’s an individual thing; you can’t generalize. It all comes down to personal understanding, personal experience. If your path is not providing solutions to your problems, answers to your questions, satisfaction to your mind, you must check up. Perhaps there’s something wrong with your point of view, your understanding. You can’t necessarily conclude that there’s something wrong with your religion just because you tried it and it didn’t work. Different individuals have their own ideas, views, and understanding of religion, and can make mistakes.
Therefore, make sure that the way you understand your religion’s ideas and methods is correct. If you make the right effort on the basis of right understanding, you will experience deep inner satisfaction. Thus, you’ll prove to yourself that satisfaction does not depend on anything external. True satisfaction comes from the mind.
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Lama Thubten Yeshe in Bloomington, Indiana, 1975. Edited from the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive by Dr. Nick Ribush.
Meditation is very simple. When hearing about meditation for the first time, you might think, “That must be very special; meditation couldn’t be for me but only for special people.” This just creates a gap between you and meditation.
Actually, watching television, which we all do, is a bit like meditating. When you watch television, you watch what’s happening on the screen; when you meditate, you watch what’s happening on the inner screen of your mind?where you can see all your good qualities, but all your inner garbage as well. That’s why meditation is simple.
The difference, however, is that through meditation you learn about the nature of your mind rather than the sense world of desire and attachment. Why is this important? We think that worldly things are very useful, but the enjoyment they bring is minimal and transient. Meditation, on the other hand, has so much more to offer?joy, understanding, higher communication and control. Control here does not mean that you are controlled by somebody else but rather by your own understanding knowledge-wisdom, which is a totally peaceful and joyful experience. Thus, meditation is very useful.
Also, if you exaggerate the value of external objects, thinking that they are the most important things in life, you ignore your inner beauty and internal joyful energy; if you look only outside of yourself, you neglect your most precious human qualities?your intellect and your potential to communicate in higher ways. Thus, meditation shows you clean clear which objects of attachment confuse you and with which kinds of mind you relate to them.
Furthermore, meditation is a very quick method of discovering the nature of reality. It’s just like a computer. Computers can check many things extremely quickly, put them together and all of a sudden, pow!?we’re on the moon. Similarly, meditation can quickly make things clean clear, but we don’t have to go to the trouble of learning by trial and error through laboratory experiments. Many people seem to think that making mistakes is a very important part of learning. My point of view is that this is a misconception. “To learn the reality of misery, you have miserable experiences”?I say that this is not so. Through meditation we can learn things clean clear, without having to experience them.
Thus, meditation does not mean the study of Buddhism philosophy and doctrine. It is learning about our own nature: what we are and how we exist.
Some books say that the purpose of meditation is to make us conscious, but despite the usual Western connotation, the terms “awareness” and “consciousness” are not necessarily positive. They can be selfish functions of the ego. Awareness and consciousness do not mean the fully awakened state of knowledge-wisdom. Awareness can be simply an ego-trip. I mean, many times we’re aware and conscious, but since we possess neither wisdom nor understanding, our minds are still polluted. We think that we’re conscious, but our minds are foggy and unclear. Therefore, awareness and consciousness are not exclusively the result of meditation. What has to happen is that through meditation, awareness and consciousness must become knowledge-wisdom.
Another idea that many people have is that meditation is beautiful because it produces calm and relaxation. But calm and relaxation are not necessarily the result of meditation. For example, when we are asleep and our mind has sunk to an unconscious level, we are relaxed. Of course, this is not the same relaxation that meditation brings.
Meditation releases us from the uncontrolled, polluted mind. Automatically, we become joyful and can see meaning in our life. Hence, we can direct the energy of our body, speech and mind in beneficial directions instead of wasting it through not knowing what we want.
In fact, most of the time we don’t know what we want. We try something, but then, “Oh, I don’t want this.” So we try something else, but again, “I don’t want this either.” Our life is constantly changing, changing, changing; again and again, our energies are sublimated into one thing, then another, and we reach nowhere?doesn’t this sound familiar?
We should make sure we understand our behavior. We put ourselves on so many different trips and into so many life-situations with no understanding of what direction is really worth going in, thus wasting enormous amounts of time. Meditation purifies and clarifies our view, enabling us to understand the different life-styles and beliefs of basically every sentient being in the universe. Thus we can see which are worthwhile and which are not. A human being, sitting at one place in meditation, can see all this. It is definitely possible.
When our minds are clean clear, we can choose a beneficial way of life.
- Tagged: lama yeshe
Lama Thubten Yeshe gave this teaching at Assembly Hall, Melbourne, Australia in April 1975. Edited by Nicholas Ribush.
The way we live and think everything is dedicated to material pleasure. We consider sense objects to be of utmost importance and materialistically devote ourselves to whatever makes us happy, famous and popular. Even though all this comes from our mind, we are so totally preoccupied by the external objects themselves that we never look within, we never question what makes them so interesting. However, this mind is an inseparable part of us; as long as we exist our mind is there within us. Thus we are always up and down. It is not our body that goes up and down, it is our mind—the mind whose way of functioning we do not understand. Therefore, sometimes you have to examine yourself; not just your body but your mind, which is the thing that is telling you what to do. You have to know your own psychology, or, in religious terminology, perhaps, your inner nature. But no matter what you call it, you have to know your own mind.
Don’t think that examining and knowing the nature of your mind is only an Eastern trip. That’s a wrong conception; it’s not an Eastern trip, it’s your trip. How can you separate your body, or the picture you have of your self, from your mind? You can’t say, “I have the material power to separate my body from my mind.” That’s impossible. You think you are a free person in the world, enjoying everything. That’s what you think, but you are not free. I’m not saying that you are under the control of someone else; it’s your own attachment, your own uncontrolled mind that you are oppressed by. If you can discover how it oppresses you, the uncontrolled mind will disappear automatically. Thus knowing your own mind is the solution for your mental problems.
One day the world is so beautiful; the next day it is so bad. How can you say that! Scientifically it’s impossible for the world to change radically like that. It’s simply your mind that makes this happen. Don’t think that this is religious dogma; our going up and down is not religious dogma. I’m not talking about religion; I’m talking about the way you lead your life, which is what sends you up down. The people and the environment don’t change radically; the changes are in your own mind. Surely you can understand that—it’s so simple.
Similarly, one person thinks that the world is beautiful and people are wonderful and kind, but another thinks that everything and everyone are horrible. Who is right? How do you explain that scientifically? It’s just their individual mind’s projection of the sense world. Hence you feel, “Today is like this, tomorrow is like that; this man is like this; that woman is like that.” But where is the absolutely fixed, forever-beautiful woman? Who is the absolutely forever-handsome man? They are non-existent; they are simply creations of your mind.
Also, you should not expect material objects to satisfy you and make your life perfect; that too is impossible. How can you be satisfied by even vast amounts of material objects? How can you be satisfied by sleeping with hundreds of different people? It’s impossible. Satisfaction comes from the mind. Your dissatisfied mind wanting to keep changing from one person to another, from one trip to another, can never satisfy you. This is just your mind.
So you see, if you don’t know your own psychology, you might ignore what’s going on in your mind until it breaks down and you go completely crazy. People go mad through lack of inner wisdom, the ability to examine their own mind. They cannot explain themselves to themselves; they don’t know how to talk to themselves. Thus they are constantly preoccupied with all these external objects while their mind within is running down until it finally cracks. They are ignorant of their internal world; their minds are totally unified with ignorance instead of being awake and engaged in self-analysis. It is so necessary to examine your own mental attitudes; it is essential that you become your own therapist.
You people are intelligent: you know that material objects alone cannot bring you satisfaction. However, you don’t need to embark on some emotional, religious trip to examine your own mind. Some people think they do; they think that this kind of self-analysis is something spiritual or religious. To do this it’s not necessary to classify yourself as a follower of this or that philosophy or religion. But if you want to be happy you do have to check the way you lead your life. For this you don’t need to put yourself into some religious category; your own mind is your religion.
When you check your mind, you should not rationalize or push. Relax. Do not be upset when problems come. Just be conscious of them and their origin, knowing their root. Introduce the problem to yourself: Here is this kind of problem. How has it become a problem? What kind of mind has made it a problem? What kind of mind feels that it’s a problem? This is so simple, and when you check thoroughly, the problem automatically disappears. That is simple, isn’t it? For that to happen, you don’t have to believe in something. Don’t believe anything! All the same, you can’t say, I don’t believe I have a mind. You can’t reject your mind. You can say, I reject Eastern things—I agree. But can you reject yourself? Can you reject your head, your nose? You cannot reject your mind. Therefore, treat yourself wisely and try to discover the true source of satisfaction.
When you were a child you loved and craved chocolate and cake, and you thought, “When I’m old like my parents, I’ll have all the chocolate and cake I want, and then I’ll be happy.” You made that kind of mental decision. Now you have so much chocolate and cake, but you’re bored. So you decide that since this doesn’t make you happy you’ll get a car, a house, television, a husband or wife—then, you’ll be happy. So now you have everything, but there are more problems. The car is a problem; the house is a problem; the husband or wife is a problem; the children are a problem. You realize, Oh, this is not satisfaction.
Then, what is satisfaction? Go through all this mentally and check; it’s very important. Examine your life from childhood to the present—meditate. This is meditation, analytical meditation. At that time my mind was like that; now my mind is like this. It has changed this way, that way. You see, your mind has changed so many times but still you have not reached any conclusion as to what really makes you happy. My interpretation of this is that you are lost. I don’t care that you know your way around the city, that you know how to get home, that you know where to buy chocolate; as far as I’m concerned, you’re lost; you can’t find your goal. Check honestly, you’ll find that this is so.
Therefore, Lord Buddha is saying that you only have to know what you are, how you exist; that’s all. You don’t have to anything. Just understand your mind: how it works; how attachment and desire arise; how ignorance arises; where the emotions come from. It is sufficient to know the nature of all that; just that gives so much happiness and peace. Your life changes completely; everything gets turned upside down; what you interpreted as horrible becomes beautiful. It’s truly possible.
I’m sure that if I told you that all you were living for was chocolate and ice cream you’d think I was crazy. No, no, no, your arrogant mind would say. But look deeper into your life’s purpose. What are you here for? Gaining a good reputation? Collecting possessions? Trying to be beautiful? I’m not exaggerating— check for yourselves, then you’ll see. Through thorough examination you can realize that if your entire life is dedicated to seeking happiness through things like chocolate and ice cream, there is no significance in your being born human. Birds and dogs have the same kind of attitude to life. If you think you’re intelligent you should dedicate your life to goals higher than those of chickens!
I’m not deciding your life for you, but you check up. It’s much better to have an integrated life than to live in mental disorder. Otherwise your life is not worthwhile, not beneficial to yourself or others. Ask yourself what you are living for—for chocolate? For steak? Perhaps for education. But that also comes from the mind. Without the mind, what is education, what is philosophy? A philosophy is somebody’s way of thinking, thoughts put together in a certain way. Without the mind there’s no philosophy no doctrine, no university subjects. These things are mind-made.
How to check the mind? Just watch how your mind perceives or interprets any object that it contacts; what feeling—comfortable or uncomfortable—arises. Then you check: When I perceive this kind of view, this feeling arises; that emotion comes; I discriminate in such a way. Why, This is how to check the mind; that’s all; it’s very simple.
When you have checked your own mind properly you stop blaming others; you recognize that actions come from your own defiled, deluded mind. When you are preoccupied with material, external objects, you always blame them and others for your problems. Then you become miserable because you project that view onto external phenomena instead of seeing their reality. So you can realize your fade-conception view—the attitude, or nature, of your own mind.
You might think that this is all very new for you, but it’s not. Whenever you are going to do anything, first you check whether to do it or not and then make your decision. Since you do this already, I’m not giving you something new; the difference is that you are not doing it enough. You have to do more checking. To do this you don’t have to sit in some corner on your own—you can be checking your mind all the time, even while talking or working with other people. Also, you shouldn’t think that examining the mind is something only for those who are on an Eastern trip. Don’t think that way.
You should also realize that the nature of the mind is different from that of the mesh and bone of this physical body. The mind is like a mirror, reflecting everything without discrimination. If you have understanding-wisdom you will control the sort of reflections you allow in your mind-mirror. If you totally ignore what is happening in your mind, it will reflect all kinds of garbage—things that make you psychologically ill.
Your checking-wisdom should distinguish between reflections that are beneficial and those that bring psychological problems. Eventually, when you realize the nature of subject and object, all your problems will dissolve.
Some people think they are religious, but what is religious? If you are not examining your own nature, not gaining knowledge-wisdom, in what way are you religious? Just the idea that you are religious—I am Buddhist, Jewish—does not help at all. It does not help you; it does not help others. If you have knowledge-wisdom, you can really help others.
The greatest problems of humanity are psychological, not material. From birth to death, people are continuously under the control of their mental sufferings. Some people never keep watch on their minds when things are going well, but when something goes wrong—an accident or some other terrible experience—they immediately say, God, please help me. They call themselves religious but they’re just joking. In happiness or sorrow, a serious practitioner maintains constant awareness of God and their own nature. You’re not being realistic or even remotely religious if you forget yourself when you are having a good time, surrounded by chocolate and preoccupied by worldly sense pleasures, and turn to God only when something awful happens. That doesn’t help.
No matter which of the many world religions we consider, their interpretation of God or Buddha or whatever is simply words and mind; only these two. Therefore words don’t matter so much. What you have to realize is that everything—good and bad; all kinds of philosophies and doctrines—comes from mind. The mind is very powerful; therefore it requires strong direction. A powerful jet plane needs a good pilot; your mind-pilot should be wisdom understanding the nature of the mind. Then powerful energy can directed to benefit your life instead of being allowed to run uncontrollably like a mad elephant, destroying yourself and others.
- Tagged: lama yeshe
Lama Thubten Yeshe gave this teaching in Brisbane, Australia, in April, 1975. Edited by Nicholas Ribush.
These days, one of the main reasons that a man and a woman become friends is sexual. They get together for sexual pleasure. In earlier times, marriage had a divine quality—a couple came together out of respect, with the aim of creating a kind of totality. That gave meaning to getting married, and marriages made with such purpose became good ones.
Many of today’s marriages become disastrous because they lack purpose; there’s no worthwhile goal for coming together. A couple should not come together out of grasping at each other; there should be more meaning to it than that. But our craving desire and lack of wisdom work together to create an extreme situation that finishes up causing conflict: the woman agitates her man; the man agitates his woman—in either case, it ends in “goodbye.”
These days, I travel the entire world and many young people come to see me to discuss their relationship problems, but they all boil down to people’s coming together out of the wrong motivation. Whether you’re a man or a woman, it’s important that there’s not too much grasping in your relationship, that you don’t agitate your partner. Extreme grasping at sexual pleasure is a problem; sexual pleasure is an irritant. You can see.
However, many couples aren’t together for the sex. Their relationship is deeper than that, so their attitude is different. They are very comfortable, free, somehow, with no tremendous expectations of each other. Therefore, they have a good relationship. I’m sure you’ve seen examples of such couples, where there’s not much grasping.
In my limited experience of the Western world, many Christians, who believe in God, have very respectful marriages. They believe in something deeper than themselves and are not living for sense pleasure alone. I would say that such couples have been blessed by God or Jesus.
Of course, many people these days believe that Coca-Cola is better than God. “What’s the point of religion?” they ask; “Coca-Cola is more refreshing than God or the Bible.” This is their problem. What to do? I’m joking!
The next day:
Thousands of people the world over get married every day out of craving for sexual pleasure. Others get married principally for reputation: “He’s world famous; he’s great.” Still others marry for wealth or power. Those are all wrong motivations for marriage. The purpose of marriage should be to avoid extremes and gain balance in your life. However, it often turns out the complete opposite.
These days, perhaps as many people get divorced as get married. Don’t think divorce is easy. Psychologically, divorce can be hell. It’s not a simple as “OK, bye-bye,” and it’s over. It’s not like that. First there’s a huge build-up of psychological pressure and when it releases it’s like falling into hell. So, sentient beings are suffering like this.
We criticize modern society for such ills, but it’s not society’s fault. There’s nothing wrong with society—it’s our mental attitude that’s mistaken. We create all kinds of fantasies, grasp at sense pleasure and everything finishes in disaster.
Buddhism explains that we circle from one life to another because of craving desire and that we can put an end to cyclic existence, to rebirth in samsara, by abandoning desire. Craving is what makes the wheel of life go round and it’s our own clinging that binds us to it; nobody else makes us cycle from one suffering life to another.
The twentieth century example of this is those ladies and gentlemen who get married, experience problems, grasp at another person, then at another, and another…maybe they cycle through four or five marriages in a single lifetime. Some people have hundreds of lovers in their life. Why can’t they stop? Why do they keep on grasping? There’s nobody driving them to do this; they drive themselves. They hang on continuously; non-stop. Desire is fickle in nature. Freud tried to explain sex as the basis of most human problems. Buddhism disagrees. The main human problem lies much deeper than that.
At a course on mind and mental factors, Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa, Italy, 1978
Question: Lama, is it possible to teach married people on the spiritual path some form of modified tantric practice to help deepen their spiritual and sexual relationship?
Lama: Yes, it’s possible. But as the texts explain, you have to approach these things gradually. Still, if married people study properly, they can learn the great significance of tantric practice, have a good relationship and, in a simple way, experience some kind of unity.
However, I can’t be specific about this because it depends greatly on the level of development of the individuals involved. It’s similar with people who want to be celibate: just because you’re intellectually ready for a certain type of practice, the scientific reality—what Buddhists call the interdependent origination of it—may be against it; the physical nervous system, which comes from the mind, may not be ready. In such cases, the nervous system can crack under the strain.
Therefore, whatever practice you’re trying to achieve, you need to go slowly, slowly and develop yourself organically. It’s not something that depends only on ideas. If you take it gradually, any practice can become easy. You should not push or squeeze yourself. If you pump yourself too hard, you run out of space, freak out and go crazy.
Question: Some people take teachings and then decide to live on the world and practice Dharma without becoming a monk or nun. Is it easy to integrate worldly responsibilities with spiritual practice?
Lama: That, too, depends on the individual. For some people it’s beautiful experience. They get married, the marriage is good, they try to help and share with each other. I think that’s beautiful; such couples are also a good example to others.
Many of my married students were experiencing unbelievable suffering and conflict when I met them. All I could do was to try to help them be happy and have as good a relationship as possible. But, sometimes the circumstances are against it. Basically, both people are unhappy; they have much conflict and many problems within their marriage. I think this is common. It’s not just confined to my students. Many Western people experience this. I think the grasping, sexual relationship is one of the greatest problems Western people face, whether they are religious practitioners or not.
However, some people understand each other and try to live with loving kindness, but that’s really up to the individual. Some people can lead a beautiful married life; others can’t. It really depends on the individual’s needs at the time.
From an interview with a Catholic theologian, Kopan Monastery, Nepal, 1977
Question: Lama, many people have problems with their marriage. Do you have anything to say about this?
Lama: Do I have anything to say? Yes! They don’t understand each other. They lack good communication. That creates many problems. Many people, especially young ones, marry for very superficial reasons: “I like him; let’s get married; I like her, let’s get married.” There’s not much thought given to how they’re going to spend their life together or much analysis of each other’s personality. People are too influenced by external appearance; true beauty lies within. People’s faces and behavior are constantly changing; you can’t rely on them.
Because we lack the knowledge wisdom to understand each other’s inner, human qualities, we easily disrespect our partner. When things don’t work out as planned, when our partner no longer appears attractive, our marriage fails. That’s because it was built one hundred percent on ego; it was totally an ego-based relationship. No wonder it didn’t work.
A marriage built on mutual understanding, good communication and sincere efforts to help each other has a much better chance of lasting. Mental communication is much better than physical. That is very important. Superficial relationships, those based on mainly external factors, never last.
Let’s say a couple buys a new piece of furniture. The husband says, “Put it here,” the wife says, “No, put it there,” and a huge fight ensues. Here, there, what difference does it make? It’s foolish and narrow-minded, but that’s how things go.
At a public talk in Los Angeles, 1975
Question: Lama, what do you think about marriage?
Lama: Marriage is good; because of marriage, you and I exist on Earth. Without marriage most of us wouldn’t exist. I have some Christian friends I like and respect very much. Many Christian couples have a good relationship because they keep love of God in their heart. I’ve also heard they have the attitude that sex is for reproduction, not for pleasure. I think that’s a very good idea.
Question: What about contraception?
Lama: I’m not going to talk about the Buddhist point of view; I’m going to talk about this monk’s point of view. I have to be careful. However, my observation of the Western world is that contraception is a very good thing because many young people are not ready to have children and when they do, instead of growing, they go crazy. I have students like this. They are young, super-intelligent and well educated, but as soon as they have babies they become unbelievably miserable. I’ve seen intelligent, worldly-wise girls suddenly become terrible, with no capability, no happiness, and no love for their man; they hate everything. It’s incredible. If those girls hadn’t had babies, over time, they could have become incredibly spiritually developed.
Parenthood brings with it many societal obligations; having a baby is a big responsibility. So, for those who cannot control their desire for sexual pleasure, contraception is essential. Also, if you can prevent an unwanted pregnancy from occurring, you eliminate the possibility of having to consider killing the fetus by abortion. Buddhism explains that for a sentient being to come from the intermediate state into a human rebirth the mother’s womb should be healthy and unobstructed. In other words, the conditions should be perfect. If you interrupt the conditions through contraception, it’s OK. It’s certainly better than madness. This is my own observation; I hope it doesn’t upset anybody.
Question: Well, Lama, what about abortion?
Lama: For Buddhists, abortion is difficult. It’s a question of morality, or ethics. But still, it’s a relative question. Let’s say that you don’t have an abortion and that the next twenty years of your life are miserable. And even more misery comes from that. Yet you think nothing of killing fish and small animals. Relatively, which is worse? Good and bad are relative; good karma and bad karma are relative. I’m not making any statement here; it’s just something for you to think about.
At a course on death and rebirth, London, 1981
- Tagged: lama yeshe
“The wind moaning down the valley is your breath Collecting in the channels of your heart.”
Since how many lifetimes has a year gone by
When we didn’t meet in some fine meadow
In the clear air of April?
Not yesterday or any other day this year
Did you, in your red silk dressing gown,
Slap my shoulder and ask me those questions
I could not find to ask myself.
On New Year’s morning I knew it was you
By the sound of sunlight moving through the grass,
The afterimage radiance of a butterfly,
The dense loam under my feet.
Holding the odor of rain.
I recognize you in death even more
Than in this life you left—
That wind moaning down the valley is your breath
Collecting in the channels of your heart.
That blur of stars above the forests
Are your luminous shoulder joints.
Gliding in their sockets as your countless arms
Encircle me, this small, dark child
Dreaming on the wheel of night.
Only your special magic could call us,
One by one, hours after your passing
To witness these miracles of your holy body.
Speech and mind growing unhindered
To fill the infinite container that now holds you.
There were rainbows scattered
In the eyes of those who loved you.
Milk lakes in the gentle speech
Of those who pronounced your name,
And offering goddesses dropped clouds of yellow roses.
Oozing nectar, to where your holy body had been
And now, the bricks removed one by one was gone.
So accustomed to searching, I am startled
To find that you are always here,
Above my head or in my heart.
Uncovering memories I could never,
Till now, quite remember,
So that my whole life suddenly is laid out straight
Under the white light of day.
I will do all I can, precious Lama.
To reveal your simple truth
To this grieving world, the way the irridescent
Patterns of a moth’s wing repeat themselves
In the soft bronze glow of lamplight.
Hold us in your loving embrace
And light our minds with your luminous fire.
So that we may increase your special magic
For all mothers who we have learned to love
As dearly as you have loved us.
March 16th, 1984
- Tagged: lama yeshe
“This marvelous being who was all smiles, who simply breathed goodness.”
By Father P. Bernard de Give
So, he has left us, this marvelous being who was all smiles, who simply breathed goodness. I believe that I express the feeling of all those who knew him when I confess that I must hold back tears when I think that never again will I see that radiant face, filled both with a joy for life and awareness of suffering that affects the inner soul of all human beings. Others will tell of his past incarnations, the first stages in his monastic life, his studies in Tibet and the responsibilities that he took upon himself since exile. But please permit this Christian monk to recall a few memories of one who was for many both a master and a friend.
The first time we met was at La Sainte Baume in Provence, where for ten days, from 23rd September to 3rd October 1978, he gave his inspiration and energy to a Buddhist retreat for around 200 people. He was accompanying Song Rinpoche whose more traditional style of teaching seemed a little distant. Of Lama Yeshe, however, one could only say that he had his audience in his pocket. He triumphed with his good satire of Western society. He was an incomparable stage artist, one might almost say a clown of frequently comic mimicry. And though he succeeded in laying bare the oddities and foolish ways, the delusions of the masses dominated by their passions, never did he hurt anyone. Rather, one felt touched by his unbelievable compassion and utter confidence in the inevitable victory of good. And when he gave himself up to fits of laughter, everyone would follow him, as though convinced that with this man at their side they were heading towards liberation.
I saw him again the following year during a second retreat at Viviers on the Rhone (17th-31st July 1979). Whilst Lama Zopa Rinpoche explained to us with simplicity and conviction the principle aspects of Mahayana philosophy, Lama Yeshe was once again possessed of an undeniable spiritual radiance.
Since then, it has always been a joy and a great blessing to meet him again. Whether on the poetic hill of Kopan beyond Boudnath in Nepal, or at his favorite refuge, Tushita, in the woods that rise above McLeod Ganj, not far from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, but higher than the lively hubbub of the Tibetan market. Thus he always placed himself close enough to the crowd to be good for him, but loving solitude where chosen disciples could follow him in initiations more secret and more severe. He was so good-natured, yet still he knew how to keep to the demands of an arduous spiritual. path. He would not allow such advanced retreats to take place without these conditions.
The fact that he made such an impression on the people he met almost by chance would in itself be sufficient. But behind those appearances of the benevolent father or sharp-witted child, there was an organizer of first rank. This can be judged simply by citing the large number of centers (more than thirty) that he founded, in most of the Western countries, for the ‘Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition’, from France to the United States, in Holland or in England, Spain, Italy and Australia. Wherever it was, he knew how to establish, to organize and to preserve. His passing away will now be mourned in all these many countries.
We know at what cost Lama Yeshe was able to persevere with his inexhaustible apostleship around the world in those final years. Considering the state of his heart, doctors would have condemned him to rest with no hope of recovery. And in addition to this, he suffered greatly from an ulcer in his stomach. But being such an ardent bodhisattva, he continued to give himself for welfare of all other beings.
And in addition to all this, may I, a Catholic monk, be permitted to allude to one essential characteristic of his being. He was a true ecumenist, knowing how to go beyond the traditional confines that so often separate the great religions. Need one recall what he did at Kopan for those retreaters who had come to learn the Buddhist techniques of meditation? One week before each Christmas, he delivered a series of discourses, more profound than one can begin to imagine, on the coming of Jesus to this world, the true meaning and the ways of preparation.
And during the retreat at La Sainte Baume, not only did he accompany a group of lamas to offer puja on top of the hill, in the grotto of Marie-Madeleine, but on another morning, he stole away with us to visit the church of Saint Maximin, where he professed a true devotion to Mary, Mother of Jesus. Everyone knows, however, how he remained the faithful propagator of dharma and how he kept to his tradition. He would willingly recall the days at Lawudo, on the side of Mount Everest, where he educated his small monks so well.
Two years ago when he was finally able to undertake a pilgrimage to Tibet, he returned to his original monastery, the monastic university of Sera, where he had received his education in the college of Sera-je. In its present state of dilapidation, the cell that he had formerly occupied no longer existed. Nevertheless, Lama Thubten Yeshe sat himself down in full lotus and remained there in meditation for many hours beneath the open sky.
I don’t know if it is appropriate to offer condolences in Buddhist circles. I think of his companion, so contemplative, so discreet, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, who was his disciple and who today must be feeling very lonely.
- Tagged: lama yeshe
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