Sunday, December 26, 2010

Are You Heading to Buddhahood or the Psychiatric Ward?

Yesterday was a day of reflection for me. Yeah - Christmas Day! I have some very strong desires and attachment but I have been successful in controlling it with some measure of success in the last few days. I understand that Chod practice of Vajrayana Buddhism is also about "cutting", i.e. cutting down our delusions, our anger and desires/greed. And that if we manage to cut it down, sometimes in the post-cutting moment, some realisations may dawn. Realisations are not something special because they are supposed to have been understood by us but due to our own inate ignorance and delusions, we don't understand it. We don't get it. We don't see it even though it may be in front of us all the while. So, this is something I would like to share with you all.

Khenchen Konchog Gyaltsen wrote a long dharma message in verses entitled "Samsara and Nirvana: Two Sides of the Same Hand". While reflecting on Lam Rim and while doing guru yoga, it dawns on me that it is not only the hand. The concept also applies to the entire body. If you use your body and indulge in samsaric activities, especially the ones that perpetuate your samsaric delusions, then you get more and more mired in the deep end of samsara. You won't be able to get out of samsaric sufferings. However, if you use your body righteously and take care of our body properly and use it to do good for the world and our fellow beings, then it is as if we are doing enlightened activities. Then we are more towards the "Nirvana side" of our body. Similarly for our mind. Mostly our mind is the samsaric mind. We indulge our mind in crazy fantasies, and indulge it in endless greed, and desires. We seldom direct our mind towards good. Samsara and Nirvana are two sides of the same hand. The only problem is we donot realse that it is such.

I was actually thinking of how the Tibetan way of Yidam practice and whether Tibetan Buddhists are deluding themselves into thinking they are those yidams that they have imagined. What's the difference between this practice and self-hynosis into thinking you are Superman perhaps? What's the difference between a yidam practitioner and a patient at the mental hospital? It is while thinking of these questions that those realisations that I talked about above came. The Buddha mind and our mind is non-dualistic but it is not the same mind. Our mind is not equivalent to the Buddha mind, just as samsara is not equal to Nirvana. They are at different sides of the hand, remember? Hence our mind is not the same mind as the Buddha mind. One continuum cannot be the same as another continuum. But yet all the Buddha qualities are there latent within. So, we say, our mind and the Buddha mind is non-dualitic. That's the safest way to put it and that is the safest way to prevent the yidam practitioner from becoming similar to the mental patient. It is only the qualities of the Buddha mind that we want. We donot want to become somebody else's mind or somebody else's body.... even if that somebody else is the Buddha. We just want to develop their qualities of the body and mind of a Buddha. You remember that and you won't go wrong in your yidam practice. I remember reading somewhere in the lamayeshe wisdom archive there is a story related there that there are Yamantaka practitioners whose eyes have bulged out like those of Yamantaka. And this is due to incorrect practice of the yidam. Those practitioners have identified to Yamantaka as if it is an inherently existing deity. Due to visualising the deity, your body slowly turns into one. Actually you only want the enlightened qualities of Yamantaka. Just like you and me, Yamantaka also do not inherently exist. That's what emptiness is, anyway, the way I understand it. We are empty but so is the Buddha and yidam. What remains are only the activities that arise and cease. That is why it is important to understand emptiness properly before practicing tantric meditations. It helps prevent going into the wrong path. But I lament that nowadays many people seems too eager to start tantric practice without understanding the fundamentals first.

So, let us think about it on whether what I say here is right or wrong. Let us try to bring out the "nirvana" side of our body and mind and engage them to do more Buddha activities. Only in this way will the Buddha manifest and it is the way to be a emanation of the Buddha, without actually being a Buddha. This is preferable to those fake "emanations" who announce to the world that they are this and that emanation and many innocent ones fall for their trickery. How sad!

So, no matter which path we are practising, it's important to ask ourselves from time to time: Am I heading towards self-realisations of Buddhahood or to the psychiatric ward at the hospital? It does pay to always check where we are heading to. May Buddha bless!

No comments: