Monday, May 17, 2010

"Am I Becoming Mad?"

Vajrayana practice depends a lot on the capabilities of the mind and the power of concentrated visualisation. There are plenty of Tibetan folklore that tells of yogis making inanimate objects becoming seemingly alive. That's why I am very careful in not forcing my visualisations to become clear. I believe it must be natural. Let it be natural. If it is not clear, we should not force it to become clear. Even when it is clear, it should be seen in the light of Emptiness. That's why understanding of Emptiness is important. I also believe Tibetan Buddhist practitioners should ask themselves whether the image they see is real or a manifestation of a demonic obstacle.

Once I asked a lama how do we know we are not like a madman who often also have weird visualisations. We always think that people are mad when they start telling us they see "things", right? Same thing for us. We don't see ourselves as mad men but common people may actually regard us as one. Hence I think it is important to always check ourselves with this question: "Am I becoming mad?" In fact that is the answer he gave me - "Ask yourself". Unfortunately, many people also are not honest to themselves. After all, mad people do not think they are mad, do they?

I remind myself of what happened to people like one particular Geshe and other Buddhist practitioners. But this problem is not confined to Tibetan meditators. There are Zen and Theravadin practitioners who think they are some kind of high Bodhisattva or Arahant who are allowed to take concubines, and stuff like that. Of course, you have the so-called "Living Buddha" who thinks he can have a cup of coffeee and chit-chat with Buddha Sakyamuni as if they are old buddies. I donot wish to end up like them. Hence I tread my path carefully and treading it step by step. There are just too many people who have gone "off" on the mad path to not to be careful. It's not the meditation that causes people to be mad. Rather it is due to not having the proper "groundwork". Yes, "groundwork"...that's what I call it.

Yes, I like to achieve Enlightenment fast, but I am also careful not to hurry until I trip and fall. That's why I take the trouble to ensure I achieve my "Renunciation", "Bodhicitta" and have some understanding of Madhyamaka "Emptiness" before I embark on any higher practices. Even then, I want to make sure I complete at least some of my preliminaries ("ngondro") first. People nowadays start taking Maha Anutarayoga tantra without even doing the slightest ngondro. I don't know, perhaps they have done it in their previous life. Well, I leave it to them if they want to think like that. But I donot want to fool myself. Achieving enlightment is a serious matter. I make sure I follow the path of Lam Rim, i.e. one step at a time. Before I proceed to the next "step", I must pass the current "step". I must not be like a fool who thinks he/she can hop, skip and jump or find short cuts to enlightenment. The Lam Rim teachings are an excellent guide to know what are the things we need to do and what milestones to achieve before we proceed. I do not want to make any serious mistakes, especially when it comes to taking highest yoga tantras (HYT). I want to make sure I have done my groundwork properly first before I start building a "tower". If there is no solid groundwork, when there is the slightest "earthquake", the "tower" will collapse. And there goes all the hard work if we end up in Vajra Hell.

I donot wish to discourage anyone who wants to take HYT. You can go ahead if you think you are ready. Just make sure you have done your groundwork. But I am not saying "take your own sweet time" either. The sooner you finish your groundwork, the better. Hence, neither too slow nor too fast, but know your pace and situation, and with a steady focus on the goal, you will reach it in no time. I pray I take my own advice to heart! Wishing you readers all the best! :)

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