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Gain Understanding and Apply It

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The important point is you need to know what you are doing. We don’t have all the leisure time to experiment with everything. You can keep on experimenting from A to Z and find nothing too. It’s possible. There are many stories told by my teachers when I was young teenager in the monastery. All the stories have one common theme.

My monastery at that time was oriented to the debate system. The story tells of someone who read ten volumes and found no debate. From the first to the last debate, they found no debate. What does that mean? It means that person didn’t understand a word that was said. A debate is raised on the basis of questions. Questions will come when you understand something but don’t understand fully. So when you find no debate after reading ten volumes it means you understood nothing. Then you can do nothing, because if you do something you have no idea what you are doing. These are the reasons why a person like yourself, educated, intelligent, devoted as well as interested for spiritual improvement tries to be better and helpful to others. Then you won’t get into trouble like joining groups like that of Jim Jones, Heaven’s Gate and others. That’s all because if you don’t know what you are doing. You are doing something that you don’t know what you are doing.

It is very important. You can safeguard yourself by following one of the great, major, main stream traditions properly, not be on the fringes. I should not be saying this, because Tibetan Buddhism is not main stream and not major, nothing. But it has a very rich, wonderful background, history, tradition – all of those. That’s why it is acceptable and is accepted by people throughout the world. Not just because of Hollywood or some Beatnik poets. Maybe there
happens to be the intelligent ones, but that’s not the reason. The real reason is that person after person sees the results, the effects. Even today we see not just an improvement, but huge effects within individuals. With effects I don’t mean the shaking of the physical body, like after taking a cold and hot shower. I am talking about an improvement in gentleness, kindness, caring, love, and wisdom. When you have that improvement you do have improvement. If you simply shake your head that is not necessarily an improvement. We see a lot of them in South-East Asia. At every corner there is somebody shaking with something.

Check yourself and the attitude of your compassion, your love, your caring for yourself and for others. A lot of good people do think, “For me it doesn’t matter, but for them.” But then you get what is called “burn out”. You see them. They will say, “I have burn out”, or “I am taking a sabbatical” or “I am taking a break." Yeah, you want to take a break from getting enlightened?
Fine. It is a good break for you – and sometimes you take a break forever with that. That’s why you have to learn what you have to know. I don’t mean you have to become a scholar.

--Gelek Rimpoche