July 8, 2013

The Convenient Truth I Learned from a Tibetan Buddhist Master.

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” ~ Socrates

Are you running around in search of that holy grail of inner peace?

Maybe you are so busy in search of it you pass yourself out? Well, I came across an incredible, kind and charismatic teacher that taught me a thing or two about this kind of behaviour and where the real wealth lies.

This weekend I attended teachings with the Tibetan Buddhist master Ringu Tulku Rinpoche. A long name with lots of confusing titles so let me explain it a bit for you. The term tulku is for an enlightened being who decided at the time of death to be reborn as a human; they come back to continue their work helping confused folks—like you and me—who are stuck in the dramas of samsara. They choose to do this rather than stay in what could be described as a type of Buddhist heaven.

Another type of tulku is a person who has certain characteristics of an enlightened being. Generally, people like the Dalai Lama recognize them and give them their title.

The title Rinpoche is an honorific title automatically given to tulkus, and high-level teachers can earn it over time. In other words, if you are lucky enough to attend teachings by someone named as Tulku Rinpoche, who is within a reputable monastery or lineage, then chances are you should really pay attention. They could have the key to finding that holy grail of inner peace.

If I am being honest, there are some Rinpoches that I gel with instantly and some that I just don’t. I always used to wonder about that until this weekend. Ringu Tulku told a story about how a student went to a high-level master asking for meditation instructions, but the master told him to go to one of his students instead, as they had a better karmic connection. That resonated with me and made me feel at ease for not being so enamoured with some masters. My guilty conscience was set free!! (I was raised Irish Catholic, so guilt is my hangover from that period. I actually heard a great turn of phrase last week when chatting to an Irish American from Chicago. He called himself a ‘recovering Catholic’…I second that!)

Tibetan Buddhism can be a complex thing with very deep teachings that go straight over my head. So, when during a particularly heavy teaching Ringu Tulku put down his book and admitted he used to know this stuff but didn’t anymore, I was once again put at ease. He went on to explain how he had learned it by heart for exams, but once the exams were over he did a brain dump and never looked back.

He then proceeded to turn the teachings around and go back to his easy style of teaching through analogy and stories, answering our basic questions around our internal struggles and the practice meditation. It was gold dust and I felt very blessed to be there.

When I reflect on it, there were two teachings that really stayed with me that I would like to share in the hope that it be of benefit to you also.

Firstly, he said we are all like poor people sleeping on top of a treasure unbeknownst to ourselves—and that treasure is our inherent Buddha nature.

But rather than recognizing that, we occupy ourselves with things to do in search of it! Priceless wisdom, don’t you think?

The second teaching he delivered through a story that a child told him and it goes like this: There were three monsters and they wanted to take away the happiness of all people. Deciding where the best place would be to hide it, the first monster suggested at the bottom of the sea. The other monsters said that wouldn’t work, for people would just keep digging till they found it.

The second monster then suggested they hide it in the sky, far away in the galaxy; but, again, the others said mankind would find it for they would keep sending space ships up to search for it till it was uncovered.

Then the third monster said he had the perfect place to hide the happiness of mankind, for it is the only place they will never look—inside their hearts.

That struck such a deep cord with me, for I believe it to be true. On my personal journey of meditation and self-exploration, I have come up against resistance from those that claim to love me. My choice to explore and find that happiness by exploring my heart space has terrified these people. I honestly think it does the majority of people and that is a real tragedy.

To believe that doing this kind of work will bring more pain is like the poor man ignorantly sleeping on top of the treasure, for it is quite the opposite. Our hearts are that holy grail. They are the riches we sleep on every night without realizing it.

To really explore the terrain of the heart I think we need help. We need to find someone who can help us see our own blind spots, who will be our lighthouse in the storm, who will impart their wisdom on to us.

That someone can be a therapist, a Buddhist master, a spiritual teacher or anyone else you personally find—for when the student is ready, the teacher always appears. And to help them help you, meditation is the magic ingredient; it will make you strong enough to follow through on their guidance.

Ringu Tulku shared something along those lines too. He said that the only three things we need to achieve lasting peace are meditation, wisdom and the right kind of lifestyle. In other words, if we are a bank robber that will disturb our peace of mind for fear of being caught and we won’t be able to meditate.

Start to meditate. Allow someone into your life who can share their wisdom with you until you harness your own. Finally, live a lifestyle that allows you to go in and find the true happiness that is the treasure of your heart.

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 Ed: Sara Crolick

{Photos: via JCLamy, 1990 and Lisa Tully}

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