« Tibet Nepal Thailand Picture Links | Main | Red China in Tibet »

Rollin Holy

I sort of kind of went to church today. I mean it wasn't Christian and I wasn't inside but it was Sunday, there was prayer and meditation and lots and lots of people.

I managed to catch the last three days of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teachings on Words of my perfect teacher by Patrul Rinpoche. I have not read it and missed most of the two week lessons, but as I understand it the book is about the basic practice of Dzog Chen Buddhism. I just attended the last three days hoping to get some good advice.

In Bangalore, whenever I spoke with Tibetans, they never said their Lamas gave teachings or lessons. Instead, they always referred to it as advice. I thought this amusing, thinking of advice that patronising elders travelers have given me, like not to trust certain people, or always eat my breakfast.

However the more I thought about it, many times I feel like I get more advice from lamas than teachings. A teaching implies learning something that you won't have to learn again (like how to tie your shoes) but advice is something that you need to hear again and again, sometimes it hits you just right, other times not at all.

So, joining ten days late, I knew I wasn't going learn much about a book I have not read about basic Buddhist practices, but I also knew that I needed grounding. I needed to sit still and reflect, to hear basic words of wisdom and think about ways to apply them to my life and its challenges. I figured interspersed in the teachings there would surely be a few gems that could be taken on their own. And the rest of the time I would meditate, watch my mind at work and play, watch my emotions rise and soar (they do this quite rapidly), try to absorb some of the lessons I have learned in the hurried past days, weeks, months, years; you get the picture.

It worked. I feel marvelous. In fact, I should do this more often. I bet this is why all those people go to church. One of the gems H.H. mentioned is that we do need to make practice, meditation, and study, a part of our everyday lives. He said that even the most intelligent person will not understand the Abi Dharma if he does not study. The Abi Dharma is only one of many things I do not understand. My favorite piece of wisdom I remember is "you should use this knowledge not as a window to look at other people's faults but as a mirror to examine your own." I have rarely heard that so beautifully put. Another bit of advice that hit home was "don't rush so much." I don't think I can ever hear that one enough. And of course he always reminds us to "be thankful for this precious human birth."

Although I have been exposed to buddhist principles for over half my life, it has taken awhile for me to understand why I should actually practice and study this religion that holds such mystical attraction. When I was young I remember the adults all talking about recovering from their mistakes and how they need to renounce the world. As a youngster I wasn't ready to renounce a world I did not know and I didn't feel I had made any mistakes I needed to recover from. I decided to find out what these grown ups were talking about.

I did.

I am still not ready for the voluntary renunciation part but in the past ten years I have suffered enough loss to realize that losing is a big part of life. It is a huge part of life. Even if you win games, money, jobs, prestige, and other things, you still lose time, energy, friends, and family (sometimes to death, other times to miscommunications or distance). And eventually we will all lose what matters most to us - our life. Thus, if I am going to live a joyous life, I had better get good and happy about losing. I don't know if this is possible but there are some suspiciously joyous looking monks around here saying it is.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)