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Is Reality Reliable?

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Whatever Buddha said 2600 years is absolutely the reality, not fancy thoughts, beliefs or ideas. Whatever Buddha presented was his own experience and it can be tested by any means, scientifically, logically, philosophically and such a system, if tested, can be standing. That made me appreciate the opportunity that I had to study, learn and practice this and even share a few words with you people. It is not only fortunate, but also the reality and it will contribute to the improvement of any individual who is spending time on it and is trying to improving life for themselves and others. I am not talking just about material improvement but uplifting ourselves. Most importantly, the goal of spiritual practice, which is obtaining Buddhahood, is the reality.

Some people may think, “Yes, the goal of Buddhahood is reality, but I am not going to be a Buddha, at least not in the next 60 years or so.” But if everything is done right and well, then even if you never think it could materialize, it will materialize. It has happened before. In one way enlightenment is very far away, almost like a dream or imagination. But on the other hand it is just the reality – next to ourselves. That’s what is happening and it has happened before. There are many true Buddhist stories on that.

Talking about stories. In yesterday's conference there was Professor Jon Kabbat-Zinn, who does the beautiful work of mindfulness. He did a good meditation too. He told a story of a sufi priest who went to the bank and tried to cash a huge check. The bank staff said, “That’s very fine, but how do I know who you are? I need some identification.” So he took out a big mirror from his pocket, looked in it and said, “That’s me okay.”

Last night I thought about that story. It is true, our eye consciousness is the reliable, direct confirmation of what is true. When he looked at the mirror and saw himself as whoever he was and said it was okay. And that is perfectly okay. However, there is a missing point. The missing link is that the criteria of being reliable is not only the confirmation of the direct mind. There should also not be a contradiction by another direct mind. Non-contradiction by another reliable mind that identifies – that is the portion missing in this particular example.

Last night, when I was lying down the thought was going through my head about what was missing in this example. I realized it was the criteria of non-contradiction from other reliable minds. When you have the confirmation of a direct mind and no contradiction from any other reliable, direct mind, that confirms it is reliable and non-cheating.

This is one of the five most important subjects we study in the Tibetan monasteries. In Sanskrit it is called pramanavartika and in Tibetan tsema. We do carry our driver’s license or passport and consider that a reliable identification. However, there are many fake passports and driver's licenses throughout the world. So even our reliability is becoming questionable. It is not absolutely reliable, but it is relative truth. So it is important to accept relative truth as it is. If you don’t, you are not going to find the absolute truth. Absolute truth is one thing and reliable relative truth is another thing. We also have to know when to be satisfied and how to accept relative truth. If we can’t accept it and keep on saying, “I am going to go to the bottom of this” you are never going to find the bottom. You are never going to find the end of the Russian doll. You are not going to find something called, “This is it.” That’s the reality.

All the scientists, whatever they are studying and finding, confirm that. Whether they themselves acknowledge that or not, but their findings confirm that. This confirmation gives us a source of comfort that whatever the Indian fellow called Buddha told us 2600 ago is true.

--Gelek Rimpoche