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Buddhadharma : Spri 2013
SPRING 2 0 1 3 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 65 five poisons into the five wisdoms. It is through the purification of those poisons that the wisdoms can manifest and be recognized. Without that, there is no way out of samsara. The Importance of Individual Liberation Authentic practitioners of dharma must focus their attention on their own faults and not on those of others. We can ascertain from our own experience that attending to the faults of others is fruitless and pointless. After all, we have spent our whole lives up to this point obsessing about the faults of others and it has gotten us nowhere. The basic definition of the dharma that the Buddha handed down is pratimoksha, or individual lib- eration. This concept and teaching of individual liberation is so important and so central to the Buddha’s message that he said himself that after his parinirvana, the teachings on individual lib- eration would be his representative. The idea of individual liberation is that before you can help others, before you can free others from their kle- shas, you must first liberate and free yourself from your own kleshas. Otherwise your perception of others will remain so skewed by your kleshas that you will not even be able to see them as they are. Therefore, in following the Buddha’s teachings we have to first apply the practice of dharma to our own kleshas. We have to pay attention to our own faults and recognize them for what they are. If we fail to do so, we will project our kleshas onto others. Neglecting our own kleshas, we will become more and more obsessed with the appar- ent faults of others. The more attention we place on what we perceive as other’s faults, the more we feed our own kleshas—we are literally add- ing fuel to the fire of our own mental afflictions. About this, Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye said in his Calling the Guru from Afar, “We hide the mountain of our own faults deep within us and yet openly and widely proclaim the sesame seed’s worth of another’s faults everywhere.” And this is how we are. Because we are so afflicted and deluded by our kleshas, we experience our pro- jections as real. But they are not real. The Buddha taught that there are two aspects to reality: One is the causality of mere appear- ances, which he called relative truth, and the other is the nonexistence of those mere appear- ances, which he called absolute truth. We need to understand this and understand, therefore, that our deluded perception and our deluded projec- tions are mere appearances dependent upon the existence of the mental afflictions—the unsub- dued (or unconquered) mental afflictions within our own minds. If we fail to take this to heart, if we become someone like the person described by Jamgön Kongtrul, who actually hides the huge mountain of their own faults inside and widely proclaims the sesame seed’s worth of faults in others, then we have missed the whole point; then we are like those whom Guru Rinpoche spoke about when he said, “If they don’t recog- nize this, even great pandits learned in the five sciences will remain as deluded as anyone else.” We must tame our own mind through dharma. Otherwise we are not improving our situation. Unless eradicated, the kleshas that have afflicted us throughout beginningless samsara will con- tinue to afflict us endlessly and will remain as they were. An Extraordinary Opportunity His Holiness the Dalai Lama, His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa, and many other great mas- ters of the four traditions of Tibetan Buddhism have come to the West repeatedly. You have had the opportunity to meet these great masters, to listen to their teachings, and to do so in a state of freedom, convenience, and even luxury that is almost unprecedented. Since you have all of this, all of these resources at your beck and call, it is important that you make some genuine use of it; it is necessary that your contact with these holy beings actually does you some real good. And the real good that such contact is supposed to do is to help you tame your mind and overcome your kleshas. In this way, I would like to remind you of this extraordinary opportunity that you all enjoy and to urge you to make the best possible use of it.