Buddhism Has a Heart as Deep as the Ocean

Gyalwai Nyugu’s Instructions to Two Devotees from Nanjing, China, Part III
Place: Yachen Gar
Date: September 21,2009
gn-sea-3Currently in the West and in China, many individuals including professors and others learners, are fascinated about Buddhism. They see it as sacred, as speaking to their experience of life, and as a means of discovering the hidden powers of the mind. This is a good phenomenon, but there is another that is not so good. After learning Buddhism, some lose interest in other fields of study. They do not want to waste time on anything less than the ultimate truth. I believe this is one of the biggest mistakes that spiritual practitioners can make.

Every single culture in the world is compatible with the wisdom of Buddhism. By combining the ultimate wisdom of Buddhism with the worldly wisdom of these cultures, the world can realize its fullest potential.

You have already learned and experienced several decades of culture. You must use that knowledge to help the nations of the world; help the planet and help sentient beings. If you have made the mistake of thinking that worldly wisdom and Buddhist wisdom are mutually exclusive, your spiritual practice will be incorrect.

Stretch the limits of the brain and mind to bring the unlimited wisdom to the planet. That is what it means to arouse Bodhichitta. Modern man has used worldly wisdom — technology, science, and philosophy — to create a world with planes and rockets, etc. This is the wisdom of the human race. Ideally this wisdom should be expanded and used to serve the compassionate purposes of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Thinking in this way, we see that every culture, every language, and every field of study is essential. All cultures are the crystallization of human worldly wisdom. And Buddhism is compatible with each and every one of these cultures. If they could all be combined with the wisdom of the Dharma, humans would be as powerful as the magical snow lion.

sea-1I’d like to add that Buddhism has no monopoly on the Dharma. From the perspective of Buddhism, every religion that benefits others — whether from the East, the West or the Middle East — is indeed the Dharma. The world offers different paths to the ultimate for its many different kinds of people, just as a restaurant offers many different tastes to satisfy many different palates. If only one taste were offered, many people would starve.

In summary, bodhichitta means opening up our contracted hearts, minds and brains and developing our innate, pure wisdom so we may benefit all sentient beings. We develop bodhichitta through sadhana.

Sadhana is not a fixed set of activities. Some people think they are engaging in spiritual practice, but the more they practice, the more they fall victim to loneliness and other internal suffering. This is what happens when one’s mind is too closed. A true practitioner’s perspective is very broad where ultimate wisdom is being used to benefit every sentient being in the universe! One who persists in this view will develop a high level of both worldly and spiritual wisdom.

These days many teachers are too narrow minded. They tell students, “You can only practice this method. We are the Nyingma Sect Dzogchen tradition. You can only practice our guru yoga, don’t practice guru yoga with anyone else, etc.” This is not right. If you only understand one person, how can you benefit all beings? Such a view is damaging because the degree to which a teacher’s mind is open or closed is directly reflected upon his students.

There are also some students who think that sadhana is about going to the meditation hall, sitting down and staring straight ahead at a fixed point. This is supposed to release innate abilities, but the results are the opposite. By fixating the mind, they squeeze shut the valve to their innate abilities. The more they practice like this, the more they compress their mind and heart.

Sadhana is about expansion, not contraction. Your spiritual practice should open your mind — you should feel a joyful lightness, a relaxed radiance — not squeeze it shut. The wisdom of Buddhism will not be acquired by sitting staring at a fixed point. The more you do that, the duller your mind will become and the more distance you will put between yourself and others. To practice correctly, we must first listen to the instructions of the guru concerning the opening and closing of the mind. Once aware of this, your sadhana will not go down the wrong path. If you’re on the wrong path, you won’t reach your destination. You’ll end up wasting your precious human birth. In my travels beyond Yachen, I sometimes meet up with sanghas and laymen whose sadhana has squeezed them into a highly contracted state. It is such a pity.

sea-21Spiritual practice with a closed mind is like a wingless bird. I pray that the wings of your mind grow broad and strong, so your wisdom flies to greater and greater heights, until you too become teachers.

Take care of yourselves on your journey home.

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