Good morning everybody, and welcome to Tibetan Buddhism with Gelek Rimpoche. That's me.
As you recall, we basically are talking here about the essence of Buddha's teaching, which travelled through the Tibetan lineage. The reason why we talked this is, as you remember, what does it mean to practice Tibetan Buddhism? We came to the answer that, it is through three steps: learning, contemplating and meditating. Learning comes first. But there are so many ways of learning. There is so much, really. Many deep things. Can somebody learn everything? Not possible, until you become either fully enlightened, or until you have developed some fantastic accomplishment of knowing almost everything. Until then, it is not possible. That's why we divide, or rather specialize between those who are seeking liberation or freedom, and those who want to know very specific things. Even in the normal, western, non-spiritual learning, it is not possible for one person to be expert in everything. People do specialize and pick up the subject.
Likewise, the practitioners of the spiritual path do the same thing. There are those who seek liberation from suffering and those…who like to continue. That's sounds a little funny, but it is like that. And there are those of us who just seek samsaric goodies. That's a little nice way of putting it. The essence or purpose of Buddha's teaching is to bring up, to help, to bring people closer to - I didn't say God - but to enlightenment or whatever. So that's what we call liberation seekers. The Buddha's teachings are totally focused on that purpose. Buddha doesn't tell us how to make ourselves rich, or even doesn't even emphasize health that much, though it is important and is not ignored. But the major purpose is to liberate ourselves.
Particularly seeing the situation today, with our physical and mental capabilities, the combination of this human body and this human mind, there is so much we can do, and there is so much opportunity. There is tremendous opportunity provided by the human life. It is almost like the sky is the limit. Buddha emphasized that to us. This is the precious human life found but once. It is not so easy. We know it is good. I do think we all know. But we may not realize until there is a threat to our life. Then we know how precious and important it is. Unfortunately, some of us need that threat to wake up and realize. Many of our friends in the spiritual practice, and Tibetan Buddhist practice in particular, we hear that all the time. We read about it all the time. It passes us, and we still don't realize, until there is a challenge and a threat. Then you begin to wonder, “wow,” and the fear will come. It is not a new value developed in us, but when there is a chance of losing it, you realize how important it is.
You don't need to meditate and put years of efforts in. We know it, however, we pay no attention, and don't acknowledge, and then the sun rises in the morning and sets in the evening, and the next day it will repeat, and we keep ourselves absolutely busy with whatever thing it is. There is not even enough time to breathe. And that is how we are actually wasting our time. Sorry to say that. We do have the capability and capacity. It is the combination of this mind and physical body. It gives us tremendous opportunity and that is an opportunity that doesn't come very often. I am talking about reincarnation, not the everyday life.
In everyday life, the opportunity comes and goes. The Indians have that saying, "aya Ram, gaya Ram." Ram has come, Ram has gone. Ram is God, you know. That's like saying, the sun has come and gone, and it will come and go again. So we don't realize, until we are told that, “today you have to go.” When that threat comes, we will be afraid, and we will do everything, and will leave no stone unturned. That means it is important. This is very valuable. Until then, we don't realize. There is no new life, it is the same old life we have had yesterday, last month, last year, the year before - the same old thing. So when you look back, those years are gone. From the pure spiritual point of view they were more or less wasted.
I am going to give you a little argument here. If it wasn't wasted, then what did I achieve? That is the question you should raise. If you have achieved something that you can be proud of, that is spiritually benefitting yourself, then you have not wasted your life. If you don't have something solid to show, that is a clear sign you have wasted your life. Whatever is gone before, yesterday, we can do nothing about it. We can regret and shake our head and be surprised. But that's it. We can do nothing. But from today, we can decide not to waste any more. From now on let's not waste. Let's do something that makes a difference.
~ Gelek Rimpoche, Jewel Heart Ann Arbor, November 11, 2012
Posted on Tuesday, December 19th, 2017