using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Buddhadharma : Summer 2005
buddhadharma| 61 |summer 2005 enlightened being drinks tea, that being drinks tea from a state of recognized primordial aware- ness, and that’s very different. Someone once said to me, “How is it that when you and I and drink coffee, we just drink coffee, and when Rinpoche drinks coffee, it’s buddha activity?” It’s true. If you’re in the presence of a genuine master, without even doing anything the master affects you at a profound level. It’s natural, spontaneous activity. Buddha activity doesn’t mean radiating light and elevating yourself up a thousand feet in the air. That’s not the point. The point, as Zen is always saying, and Tibetans understand this very well also, is that every activity becomes perfect bud- dha activity. And anyone sensitive feels that at a very profound level. Do you think this kind of awareness is particularly difficult for Western students? I think the problem with Western students is that they’re very ambitious. One needs to learn the path without the goal – the feeling that wherever you are, that’s where you are and, at that moment, it is a completely perfect place to be. Enjoy the flow- ers at your feet. Western Tibetan Buddhists are always looking out at the distant snow peaks and they lose sight of the flowers along the path. It’s buddhahood or bust! Actually we’ve got countless lifetimes, so relax. I would like to ask you about the bodhisattva vow. You said in one of your talks that the only way the bodhisattva ideal can work is if we have the understanding of many lifetimes. But if we say we have many lifetimes, can this lead to prac- titioners saying, “Well, I guess I don’t really need to work too hard”? No, we have to work very hard at it, because this precious life is our opportunity. It’s important to realize that the coming together of so many forces at this time is very rare. We’re human beings, and that in itself is a rare opportunity. We are not one of the millions and millions of other beings that are not human. So here you are, you are a human being. You’re educated. You’re in a country where, despite everything, you do have the freedom to practice what you want to practice. You have met with the dharma. All these are very rare events. If I were to say, “Forget it, I give up,” what might happen in my next lifetime? Who knows where you would be reborn? If you lose interest in the dharma you might be reborn anywhere in the world, and not in a place where you are likely to meet with the dharma again. And then what? Then you’re completely off the path. How is the dharma’s understanding of merit dif- ferent from thinking that if I’m a good girl in this life, then I will go to heaven? But we don’t want to go to heaven. We want to be reborn so that we can keep going and realize the dharma so as to benefit other beings endlessly. It’s a very different thing. We’re not collecting merit scores for ourselves. We’re making merit so that we can be reborn in a situation where we can really live to benefit others, and ourselves, again and again and again, more and more and more every time. We are in a position to deepen our understanding to be of genuine benefit to other beings. What is your understanding of merit in terms of being a monastic or a layperson? I think it’s a meritorious action to become a monk or a nun, provided that your motivation is pure. If you become a monastic because you think it’s an easy life, because you’re going to be fed and sheltered and people will respect you, then that is not a very meritorious motivation. If you become a monk or a nun because this will give you the freedom to study and practice and benefit both yourself and others, then that is a very meritor- ious action. Do monastics accrue more merit than someone who decides to stay a layperson because she thinks she will benefit more beings working in a hospital, or a school? I do think that when someone decides to devote oneself entirely to spiritual life, that that is more meritorious. And working in the world with children, with people who are ill, you don’t see that as dharma activity? It is dharma activity, but the problem is our inher- ent ignorance keeps us in samsara and unable to really, on a deep level, benefit ourselves and others. For example, some students went to Milarepa and said, “We should stop living in caves and meditat- ing and instead go out and help beings as bodhi- sattvas.” Milarepa replied that as long as space exists, so long will there be beings for you to help. First you have to help yourself. So, for example, say you wanted to be a doctor and you think to yourself, “I’ve got all these beings. They’re sick, they’re dying, and I’ve got to go out and help them.” Then you grab a bag full of scalpels and medicine and rush off. But even though your moti-