Put on a brave face and weather the storm #1
Thoughts for these days of confinement
Reflections of our beloved teacher S.E. Nyari Tritul Rimpoche on how we can take advantage of these days of confinement to generate more altruistic, kind and wise minds, accepting the ever-changing circumstances of our condition.
Let me express my condolences to the families of those who died due to this pandemic; furthermore, may the sick as well as their families be accompanied by all my prayers and good wishes. My greatest gratitude goes out to all the people who have offered their lives day and night, caring for the sick and for all of us. They have done so without fear, and with an immeasurable love for us - so that we can continue in our homes with our basic needs covered. It is to you I dedicate my prayers and best wishes.
During this time of confinement I miss you all very much, but at the same time, I always feel your presence. In my home-town there is a saying: Every cloud has a silver lining . There is also a saying in Tibetan: ̈When unfortunate things happen to you, sometimes they are a blessing in disguise ̈.
Surely a better time will come, so take courage. I do not want to overwhelm you by talking about COVID19 here, despite it being the current topic. My reason for not addressing this topic is because everyone already knows about it. I want to talk to you about something a little different from the current news.
At this point we could do with a little cultivation of humor.
(“A sense of humor is an attitude that allows us to face diverse situations in life without letting ourselves be defeated by them. As if it were a kind of bulwark, people with a sense of humor are able to overcome the most difficult issues by letting themselves be guided by hope and the certainty that things can improve. ̈)
A sense of humor doesn´t just mean telling jokes, but it wouldn't hurt if we told a joke right now. So I'm going to tell you a bad joke: Why do Lepe's guys put on five televisions? To watch TV five. (ADD different joke)
Shantideva has said:
“If you can solve your problem, then what is the need of worrying?
If you cannot solve it, then what is the use of worrying?”
If we follow the tradition of Mind Training (Lojong) there is a specific section that is designated as Transforming Adverse Circumstances into a Path to Enlightenment.
In these degenerate times it can be of great benefit when a practitioner encounters numerous difficulties and is able to overcome them; he has to be capable to transform those adverse circumstances into favourable circumstances.
Failing this, the practitioner will end up abandoning the Dharma, whether conditions are favourable or unfavourable. For example, some people abandon the Dharma when they have health, fame and wealth; others despair when faced by adversity and turn away from the Dharma as well.
This is why it is necessary to master the transformation of unfavourable circumstances we encounter along the way into something that will not harm our practice or our peace of mind.
We transform adverse circumstances with thought, in the Guru Yoga:
“Although the entire world and the beings which inhabit it were full of the fruits of their karmic transgressions, and unwanted suffering as well as rain fell on me: I beg for your blessings so that I may take those miserable conditions as the path, understanding that they are causes to exhaust the results of our negative karma.”
In the root text of mental training it is said:
“When the environment and its inhabitants overflow with unwholesomeness,
Transform adverse circumstances into the path to enlightenment.”
That is to say: until now - whenever we have been besieged by diseases, enemies, calamities, catastrophes, etc. - we have blamed others. But in reality, we do not know where these incidents take their origin. From a perspective of Dharma: all those adverse circumstances are the consequences of our individual and collective karma.
However, when we analyze the object or the root which is to blame, we find that all undesirable things arise due to our own erroneous and distorted behaviours and thoughts. These misbehaviours and distorted thoughts arose out of our selfishness, so self-centeredness is the main cause of suffering. The ego springs from an untamed mind.
In The Thirty-seven Practices of Bodhisattvas it is written:
“All suffering comes from the wish for your own happiness. Perfect Buddhas are born from the thought to help others/cultivation of Bodhichitta (Rimpoche, literal)”
Shantideva has said:
“For all fears and innumerable sufferings have their origin in the mind, according to the one who teaches the immaculate truth.”
“Who and for what purpose created all the weapons that torment beings in hell? Who created the burning iron ground? Where did the devilish famines come from?”
“The Mighty and Wise One has said that all such things are the workings of a harmful mind.”
Difficult moments offer us an opportunity to reconsider our way of thinking, change our inappropriate habits, how to manage time, etc. Instead of going with the flow, let's take charge ourselves and try to transform this moment in time so that it may help us achieve enlightenment.
When we feel strong anguish, apathy, overwhelmed, exhaustion, anxiety, etc., instead of staying with these feelings, let us immediately emerge from this counterproductive vortex of emotions. Let´s set out to transform that strong counterproductive emotion into a strong feeling of joy and courage by way of an encouraging thought. Let us think that our desire to help others has been fulfilled, because today we experience the mature results of our own and others' negative karma. For some time I have been practicing tonglen with full unconditional love and universal compassion. Today, the result of my practice has been revealed to me - so I am very grateful to have been able to verify the result of my practice. From now on, I will no longer let myself be carried away by my adverse feelings but by feelings of joy, love, compassion and wisdom: may they guide me at all times. I will also trust more in my practice and continue on the path without distraction, without discouragement, full of love and trust. I will no longer cling to my strong counterproductive feelings and will let go all those that are destructive and insignificant.
In The Thirty-seven Practices of Bodhisattvas it is said:
“All forms of suffering are like a child's death in a dream. Holding illusory appearances to be true makes you weary. Therefore when you meet with disagreeable circumstances, See them as illusory - this is the practice of Bodhisattvas.”
Unfavourable conditions are an incentive for virtue.
That is to say: you will strive to cultivate goodness, wisdom, and purify your obscurations once you have reflected on the fact that we must abandon negative karma if we do not want to suffer.
While unfavourable circumstances have not arisen, there is a good chance we will feel arrogance, presumption, distractions ... But once unfavourable circumstances arise - such as bad reputation, degradation and disease, etc. - it is a good time to cultivate perseverance: to find relief from anguish, to encourage us to look for solutions and resolve the situation, to appreciate the kindness of others and cherish our practice.
If things do not go well and you find yourself inside a vicious circle of conflict, instead of staying in this circle, generate renunciation and transform your perception. Think about how the entire world is doing you a great favour by awakening your consciousness: you will see the reality of life in an ephemeral and conflictive world and will be motivated to leave behind this Samsara. When your thoughts become established in this knowledge, the whirlwind will gradually subside; it will also serve as an incentive for your Dharma practice, since before you were completely absorbed by worldly affairs and did not remember the Dharma. It is even possible that the suffering and degradation of your worldly surroundings may act as a contributing factor to your realization of selfhood if you know how to direct your thoughts.
Since all these calamities are the result of your self-centeredness, you should consider these times of misfortune as being very kind to you, because they will help you subjugate your self-centeredness, which you could otherwise never do by yourself.
On many occasions, when we found ourselves in unfavourable circumstances, we were immediately disappointed and turned away from the practice. But it is unwise to act in such a way, just as when you are driving in heavy traffic you should pay even more attention to the present moment, be fully aware of the conditions, so as to be able to follow the path without interruptions and make sure to reach your destination. Therefore, in difficult times we must become aware and focus on our practice.
In my home-town there is a saying: "The greyhound runs better than the mastiff; but if the road is long, the mastiff runs better than the greyhound."
Irene Villa González: (A victim of ETA (Basque Terrorist Group) who is a journalist, writer and psychologist) ̈I always say that: “Son, I will give you strength & safety, but you must stumble in order to learn. So I am going to give you support, love and a lot of self-confidence. But I will not remove the stones from your path, because the more stones you come across and the heavier they are, the bigger and stronger you will build your castle”. That si the main lesson life has taught me, and thus I will raise my children. ̈
Now I am going to introduce you to the following practice:
How to Transform Sickness and Other Circumstances
by Gyalse Tokme Zangpo (1297-1371)
This illusory heap of a body, which, like others, I possess— If it falls sick, so be it! In sickness I’ll rejoice!
For it will exhaust my negative karma from the past.
And, after all, many forms of Dharma practice are for the sake of purifying the two obscurations.
If I am healthy, so be it! In freedom from sickness I’ll rejoice! When body and mind are well and at ease,
Virtuous practice can develop and gain strength.
And, after all, the way to give meaning to this human life is to devote body, speech and mind to virtue.
If I face poverty, so be it! In lack of riches I’ll rejoice!
I will have nothing to protect and nothing to lose. Whatever quarrels and conflicts there might be,
All arise out of desire for wealth and gain—that’s certain!
If I find wealth, so be it! In prosperity I’ll rejoice!
If I can increase the stock of my merits that will suffice.
Whatever benefit and happiness there might be, now and in the future, All result from merits I have gained—that’s certain!
If I must die soon, so be it! In dying I’ll rejoice!
Without allowing negative circumstances to intervene,
And with the support of positive tendencies I have gathered, I will surely set out upon the genuine, unerring path!
If I live long, so be it! In remaining I’ll rejoice!
Once the crop of genuine experience has arisen,
As long as the sun and rainfall of instructions do not diminish, If it is tended over time, it will surely ripen. So, whatever happens then, let us always cultivate joy!
In response to a question from a Sakya Geshe, asking what should be done in the event of sickness and the rest, I, the monk Tokme, who discourses on the Dharma, set down these ways of bringing sickness and other circumstances onto the spiritual path. Sarva maṅgalam! (Translated by Adam Pearcey, 2007. Edited by Phillippa Sison. Revised 2012)
I take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha until I attain enlightenment. By the merit of practicing generosity and the like, may I attain the Buddhahood for the benefit of beings. (x3)
May all beings possess happiness and its causes. May all beings be free from suffering and its causes. May all beings remain forever in joy. May all beings remain in equanimity, free from attachment and aversion (x3)
Blessed One, whose compassion is equal to all, Simply hearing Your name dissipates the suffering of the lower realms, Medicine Buddha, You who heal the disease of the three poisons, Light of Lapis Lazuli, I pay homage to You!
Tadyatha Om Bhekandze Bhekandze Maha Bhekandze Randza Samugate Soha (x108)
Condensed Prayers to Tara
OM, I prostrate myself before the Supreme and Superior Liberator, the fully realized, transcendental subjugator. I prostrate myself before the glorious mother who liberates with TARE. You are the mother who eliminates all fears with TUTARE. You are the mother who grants all wishes with TURE. I deeply venerate you, who have the letter SOHA. (x7)
Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha (108)
For these actions that I have carried out and all the merits I have accumulated, may the suffering of each and every one of all beings be eliminated.
For all beings who are sick, until they come out of their illness, may I be their doctor, medicine and nurse.
Let the torment of hunger and thirst be eliminated by bringing down a rain of drink and nourishment. And during the scarcity of the period of one kalpa, may I myself be drink and food to them.
May I be an inexhaustible treasure for the poor and destitute, all manner of things they may need arranged before them.
My body, as well as my assets, my past, present and future merits, I offer them without sparing anything for the benefit of all beings.
Nirvana is obtained by giving up everything and nirvana is what I aspire to.
Since I will have to abandon everything in an instant, it is better to give everything to others.
May the beings of any place who endure suffering of body or mind, due to these virtuous merits experience immense joy and happiness.
May all beings who are unhealthy free themselves quickly from all their diseases. May all diseases that afflict beings disappear completely and for all times.
In the Paradise of the snowy mountains you are the source of goodness and happiness, O mighty Tenzin Gyatso, Chenrezig, please stay with us until the end of Samsara.
As Manyushri, the omniscient hero, and as Samantabadra, may I learn to follow their example and dedicate my roots of virtue.
All the buddhas of the three times offer to the dedication their greatest praise, thus I dedicate my virtues as did Samantabadra .
I dedicate all the virtues that I have accumulated since always, for the benefit of the teachings and of all beings, and above all, so that the essential teachings of the venerable Lobzang Dragpa may shine forever.
With all my affection.
Ven. Nyari Tritul. Tuesday 24.03.2020