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February 5, 2014

Introduction to Tantra: Second Teaching.

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Both Buddhist sutra and tantra say that the nature of the human mind is clean clear light; clean clear mind.

So what I’m saying is that the nature of our consciousness has always been clean clear; is clean and clear; and will always be clean and clear. You don’t need to worry about it.

“But we talk about delusions and confusion. What about that?”

Delusion is not the character of our consciousness. Clouds are not the character of the sky. You have to change the attitude that thinks like that. Fundamentally, we are wrong when we think, “I am delusion; I’m a bad person who always has bad thoughts; who always acts badly.” You cannot sum up your whole, “I am this.” It’s not true.

You cannot put limitations on even your own reality. You cannot; you should not. Each of us has problems and difficulties, but we also have something similar to Buddha and bodhisattva energy within us.

For example, sometimes when I’m talking, I get surprised at what I’m saying. I don’t know what I’m saying. That’s a good example, isn’t it? I’m an ignorant person, talking like this, and somehow some wisdom also comes out. I can’t believe it myself!

I don’t think I’m an enlightened being. But for some reason, good things sometimes come out along with the bad.

So we should not make limitations when we judge ourselves. Actually, it’s like they say in the West: you hear what you want to hear.

Exactly like that. When you look within yourself, the quality you want to see appears. If you want to see the bad guy, the bad guy appears; if you want the good guy, the good guy appears. The thing is not to identify with your delusions. The quality you look for appears.

The example I like to use for the Western mind is that in the world, there are so many men and women. As a matter of fact, everybody is handsome or beautiful. Can you imagine? Somewhere, there’s someone who finds you handsome or beautiful. So, that is scientific evidence that we are all handsome; we are all beautiful. Because some minds say you are beautiful—even though you are ugly!

But it functions in that way. When a person sees you as handsome or beautiful, that’s exactly the way it works for that person.

Let’s say I think all of you are beautiful or handsome; for me, that’s how you appear; for me, that’s reality. But maybe somebody else thinks you’re all ugly. I don’t care what he thinks; that’s his business. What appears to me is my business; that’s what affects me. Anyway, you can see that’s how reality is.

Look at modern society. Many people put themselves down; that’s their worst problem. You can see this everywhere in the world; people put limitations on themselves, on their own reality.

egoThis reality, this judgment of the neurotic ego, is the human problem. Tantra has the methods to eliminate this immediately. So, you become the deity, having the divine pride that you yourself are a buddha, fully complete, and in that way you eliminate the ordinary ego projection.

Also, in this way objects don’t irritate you.

Now, when you see certain people, you immediately get irritated. That’s karma.

Something within you is magnetized; it is not out there. You have the preconceived notion, “He looked at me with his eye this way; therefore, I dislike him.” You have a preconceived idea. We all do, to some extent. With certain kinds of people, we’re easygoing, but we’re unsure of other people who present themselves in some other way.

That is due to preconception; the ego’s conception. We should be happy, really happy, to connect with any people—even the Shah of Iran, or the Ayatollah! We should be happy.

Take the preconceived idea of the Ayatollah—our ego builds up such energy, can you imagine, that in our next life, when we are children, as soon as we hear the word Ayatollah, we think, “Ayatollah? I don’t like.”

Normally we’d explain it as energy previously built up by the ego: “The Ayatollah is no good.”

Well, that’s the way it happens. It’s so easy to say that he’s no good, and at the moment you might think that it’s not doing any harm, but the thing is that it’s not the Ayatollah who harms us, it’s the energy that our own ego accumulates that gives us harm.

The reason I’m talking about this topic is that it’s difficult for new people to relate to the idea that one can become Chenrezig; it’s a new conception.

“Who is Chenrezig? Some Chinese man? Some Tibetan man? Who is that? He doesn’t exist anywhere in the world. Who’s seen him?” Maybe you ask, “Has he seen me? I haven’t seen him either.”

My feeling is that even if we’re ugly or our body is not handsome, since we were born, an extremely clean, clear, organic body has simultaneously existed within us, even while we’ve had this complicated body.

Of course, there are also yoga methods for transforming even this physical body into light. Even this body that our ego has built up in such a heavy, concrete way: “My body is bad,” criticizing it as we normally do; “My body is heavy” and so forth.

So, by practicing, we can make this body light and the difficult heavy one disappears.

Many times we experience symptoms that are simply made by our conceptions.

For example, when I was in England last year I met a Tibetan lama who had come from India. He had a problem with his throat; he felt it was always blocked. When English doctors checked him out, they couldn’t find anything physically wrong; it was all in his mind. Incredible, isn’t it? Well, that’s possible. There’s nothing wrong with the body; the only thing that’s wrong is the head.

I’m sure you can think of many examples of this, where people say, “I hurt here, and here…” but it’s only a symptom of a mental problem, not the physical body. I think this definitely happens.

I have more experience of this. I have an English friend whom I met when I was first meeting Western people in India. When he’s unhappy, he always gets pain in his hip. He’s a strong guy, but if somebody makes him unhappy, he immediately gets sick there. I’m sure you know people similar to this. This is a good example.

It shows that when the mind is sick, the body gets sick.

The system of Tantrayana is not something disorderly or something that you have to believe in with blind faith. The Tibetan system is set up dialectically; you can study it philosophically. I’m just talking here; there’s no time to study tantra philosophically from beginning to end. But if you want to, you can; it’s all there, dialectically, intellectually. The study of tantra can be super-intellectual. That’s possible.

However, tantra has four schools; we call them cha-gyü, chö-gyü, näl-jor-gyü, and näl-jor-la-na-me-pa—kriya, charya, yoga, and mahayoga, or maha-anuttara yoga.

These schools present tantra differently. Like the lam-rim has small, medium and great levels, so too do these four schools—just as those who practice it also have their own level, or degree, of capability. But while all four schools take the energy of desire as the path to enlightenment, there are degrees. Maha means great.

Now, as far as receiving initiation is concerned, I don’t know much English, but initiation means something like initial experience, or beginning experience.

When you receive initiation, you are beginning to get a taste of transformation; there’s some communication; transformation is beginning to happen. That is empowerment.

But the experience you get at the beginning is in accordance with your own magnetized readiness. Perhaps the first time you receive an empowerment, pam!—you immediately get some kind of result. But if you’re like me, slow, perhaps nothing happens during your first experience and you need to receive initiation repeatedly in order to generate the kind of nuclear energy that makes an empowerment perfect.

Also, initiations themselves have many levels or degrees. For example, of the four schools, the kriya and charya have only the first, the vase initiation; they don’t have the rest.

Furthermore, the first initiation itself also has degrees; you can’t have the maha-anuttara yoga vase initiation experience in kriya or charya. But I don’t think we need to go into all those details; you’re not ready for them yet. Nor is it necessary to bring them up here. However, you should understand that there are degrees of initiation. Also, different deities have different numbers of initiation. For example, Yamantaka has four initiations; Kalachakra has sixteen and so forth.

However, to some extent, an initiation is for you to receive an experience.

It’s like planting a seed. This is then repeatedly generated, fertilizing it, until finally it becomes a totally unified realization.

So, in preparation for this, we meditate upon and actualize the three principal aspects of the path. I’ve told you about these in a simple way, so I don’t need to repeat it again. So, you should be somewhat advanced. Instead of thinking that the lam-rim is so big, it should be a small package for you.

In one meditation, when something changes, you should be able to direct your mind into renunciation; another change happens, let it happen—no rejection; no acceptance; let go, let it happen—then put that into bodhicitta meditation. When something else happens, put it into shunyata.

But maybe I have to explain how to do this:

Contemplate on the clean clear energy of thought. This signifies shunyata: “This is my picture of shunyata.”

Why? First of all, your consciousness, or mind, is like a mirror. A mirror is a receptor for any object of form; whatever the color, a mirror receives it. It’s the same with our consciousness; it’s like a mirror; it can receive all kinds of objects of thought. All kinds of reflections appear in our minds-garbage reflections come; good reflections come. That is beauty; human beings are beautiful.

Don’t think that human beings are like wood. That’s why we should respect human beings. Human beings have discriminating wisdom; they have that capacity. So contemplate on clarity-the clear light nature of mind and thought.

First of all, that clarity is formless. It is not color; it does not have color. Recognize it as space; universal space is empty. So, contemplate. The effect of this meditation, its impact, what happens is that, by having the experience of emptiness, empty space, you eliminate superstition and ego conflict. Having this kind of experience eliminates the ego thoughts that crowd your mind.

From there, you are led to having no thoughts at all; no thought.

There is thought, but the crowded, gross level thoughts disappear so that you seem to experience no thought. Sort of, “Where are my thoughts? Where am I?” is what you experience. Of course, this is not exactly a shunyata experience, but it serves as such.

I’m not sure about that language—what does “serve” mean? [Student: instead of.] Yes, it serves; perhaps it’s better to say it sublimates—that’s better. Something happens; there’s an inner transformation. We have to go through this; we cannot be arrogant and say, “I want an exact experience of complete shunyata!” It’s not going to happen.

That’s just ego. We have to begin somewhere and work towards that experience. We should be satisfied if even that approximate experience comes.

That’s enough for today. Thank you so much.

 This teaching was excerpted from the Essence of Tibetan Buddhism, edited by Nicholas Ribush.

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Lama Thubten Yeshe

Lama Thubten Yeshe was born in Tibet in 1935. At the age of six, he entered the great Sera Monastic University, Lhasa, where he studied until 1959, when the Chinese invasion of Tibet forced him into exile in India. Lama Yeshe continued to study and meditate in India until 1967, when, with his chief disciple, Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche, he went to Nepal. Two years later he established Kopan Monastery, near Kathmandu, in order to teach Buddhism to Westerners. In 1974, the Lamas began making annual teaching tours to the West, and as a result of these travels a worldwide network of Buddhist teaching and meditation centers—the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT)—began to develop. In 1984, after an intense decade of imparting a wide variety of incredible teachings and establishing one FPMT activity after another, at the age of forty-nine, Lama Yeshe passed away. You can read more of Lama Yeshe’s teachings at www.LamaYeshe.com, and read excerpts from Adele Hulse’s forthcoming biography of Lama, Big Love, at biglovelamayeshe.wordpress.com. This teaching was excerpted from the Essence of Tibetan Buddhism, edited by Nicholas Ribush.