About Obstacles in Dharma Practice (11 Dec 2012)

obstacles-1Gyalwai Nyugu’s teaching during morning practice session on 11th December 2012

Tashi Delek. I rejoice in everyone’s harmonious practice. Group practice is a form of unity, and unity is strength. This type of strength not only has the ability to cleanse a person’s negative karma and obscurations, it is also able to purify group karma. Unity is important when practicing the true doctrine of the Buddha. To uphold the proper Dharma requires group effort.

Today I am going to talk about the obstacles to practice and their antidotes. Right now, there are basically two types of obstacles: (1) obscurations due to mental afflictions and (2) cognitive obscurations.

Obscurations due to mental affliction refers to greed (our attachment to phenomena and feelings, desiring favourable circumstances), anger (to become mad, lose one’s temper, unwilling to accept unfavourable circumstances), stupidity (ignorance, unable to accept the truth), pride (arrogance, like to compare oneself with others), suspicion (do not bother to understand but immediately fabricate doubts).

Simply put, cognitive obstacles refer to our deep rooted habits. From the time we are born, our habitual thinking and behaviour are affected by the accumulated influences of our parents, society, environment etc. It is difficult to change when we are accustomed to a certain lifestyle or mindset. But, these can be transformed using a variety of different skilful methods, for example, through the practice of renunciation, cultivating compassion in order to develop positive habits. Through repeatedly contemplating the samsaric cycle of birth and death, until we recognize the truth. Then it will naturally integrate into our minds. We will value life and use our life to engage in practice and benefit others.

Every one of us has a different foundation, causes and conditions, karma and merits, therefore the rate of our improvement and our level of practice will not be the same. Mental afflictions and habits will not simply be removed and disappear immediately, we need confidence and courage to continuously deal with our afflictions.

Mental afflictions and bad habits can be transformed: deeply ingrained mental affliction can be tackled through understanding the dangers and faults of afflictions and transformed through Bodhicitta.

Stubborn habits may be defused by means of meditation. The first method is to use afflictions as the object of meditation; the second method is to observe the afflictions coming and going, and let it arise and dissolve naturally; the third method is to recognize its true nature in a natural and relaxed manner.

obstacles-2Today is Tuesday, we will make offerings to the Dharma protectors. Clean your hands and the offering cup; place it on a flat and stable table. First pour a little wine, light some incense. Then while visualising the Dharma protector, sing or chant, and at the same time, slowly fill the cup with wine. After making the offering, place the filled protector cup on the platform before the Dharma protector.

In a few days time, I will give more teachings relating to offerings to the Dharma protectors.

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