Saturday, 19 January 2013

Inner Peace — Keep Going

This is based on a dhamma talk by Ato Rinpoche.

In 1959 I took refuge. When I returned to my homeland in 1985, I was presented with my monk's robes. By then I was no longer a monk, so I had to refuse them. The person who had saved them for so long burst out into tears. Couldn't I just wear them anyway? I said I couldn't. Monk's robes are only for monks. I think it's right to keep the distinction between monks and lay people and not mix things up. So I took only those clothes which were not specifically for monks, and after a while he was persuaded that this was right. What is appropriate dress for a teacher? Although it doesn't matter, people are very visual especially children, so to keep others happy and inspire confidence in those whose eyes take precedence over their minds, it is better for me not to wear jeans and a grey anorak, but not monk's robes either. So I wear these robes. First living in Tibet, then India, and now in the West, we learn a lot living in different countries and have to accept a lot. This question of appropriate dress I have come to learn.

It is good to see such a broad range of people here, including those who are not Buddhist. Becoming Buddhist is not some kind of a magic pill. You need hard work to develop non-attachment, and to manage well your individual life. Maybe you have made a new year's resolution. But how do you make a new year's resolution? Last year is the past, it's not worth going back. Next year is not yet, so not to worry too much — plan, but leave it alone. Most of the focus is on this year. Think what positive things you did last year, and try to develop them. Think what negative things, and try to lessen them — without guilt about it. Be honest with yourself. This is very important. I might wear special clothes, but I am not special. I am human. No-one is perfect. Keep going. 

Meditate in order to change old habits, to clear away the dust of the mind, and to reduce useless thoughts and emotions. Not wishing too much, not doubting too much, leave things alone. Samatha meditation is about becoming aware of the hundreds of thousands of thoughts which otherwise fill our minds without our even realising it, that overwhelm us without our knowing it. There are lots of advanced meditation techniques: vipassana, one-pointedness and so on, but these all arise in the perfection of breath-awareness samatha meditation.  Relax one second for inner peace, and repeat. If you don't repeat, then you won't become aware. Whatever you are doing — walking, cooking, cleaning the house — relax one second, and repeat. Just like when you go in the underground, the announcer keeps repeating "mind the gap". I love this! Keep repeating. Don't forget! We mustn't forget ourselves to develop the gap, to repeatedly "mind the gap". Repeating, then gradually there is lots of benefit, and we can change our habits.

We are born into busy lives, learning how to walk and talk and everything we do our parents find wonderful. Then, when we grow older, they want us to keep still and keep quiet. So conflicting! How then to recognise what is positive and what is not? By example! I cannot see my own face. I need a clear mirror. In the spiritual social life, others are mirrors. We see and learn from the example of others. Then we look inwards and see in our own mirror. This is why we need honesty with ourselves. Whatever we talk about, it is worth trying. Keep going, never give up, especially the spiritual side. The connection to devotion is very important — something you believe in, something you trust. My daughter was making a website for me, and she asked what teaching I could put up. I follow the example of my teacher and asked for the prayer to the mother. We must develop compassion and caring, not only to the mother, or some other individual, but to all sentient beings, even compassion for ourselves, or we let ourselves down. Compassion without limit. Not "I must do", but "whatever we can". Even if I die tomorrow, it is worth learning something today. It is not easy. It's difficult, but keep it going. The mind thinks it's impossible, but it's possible. It is worth trying it. Never give up.

1 comment:

  1. Really enjoyed that. Thanks Okei, for sharing.