While in graduate school at Naropa University, I was lucky to meet a Tibetan Buddhist teacher who taught his students the way his teacher taught him, and so forth, back as many generations as we could fathom.
Over the years of studying and practicing, I began to realize that we were on a journey of self discovery and that there was an inherent wisdom in how this sequential path of practice and study was laid out. No wonder it has been done this way by so many devotees for hundreds of years!
The dharma teachings and practices are practical and down to earth.
We take responsibility for ourselves and our present situation. We don’t rely on someone else to do the work for us. It is not about tough love, but is what makes this approach so self empowering and self liberating. It is not to say people can’t help and support us. Of course they can, but they can’t do it for us. Ultimately it is up to us. We can learn to take back control over our own mind and learn how to cultivate our inner riches of love, warmth, clarity and beauty.
At every step of the way as we travel through the three yanas (groups of teachings), there are tools for developing awareness, insight and compassion that create the very foundation needed for the next inquiry and exploration.
This process of trying things out, having direct experiences, and reflecting on them is how we discover with unshakable confidence the truth about who we are. We have discovered it for ourselves by trial and error, and learning from our direct experience.
It is one thing for someone to tell us, “You’re good…You’re free…Everything is okay,” but if we don’t really believe it for ourselves, it doesn’t go very far or last very long.
We realize despite everything that has ever happened to us, our inner light has remained untouched. Nothing can ever take that away from us.
Having been dragged through the hell realms of extreme trauma in my childhood, I couldn’t believe how pure and bright the light in my heart was still radiating. It had always been there and was totally unharmed by all that had happened to me. It was more a matter of self discovery, as if it had been protected, hidden away, until it was safe to come out.
This is how I knew for sure that our true nature is indestructible.
Once we discover for ourselves who we are and what is true, we no longer need confirmation from outside, “Am I okay?” This is what allows us to finally relax and feel naturally peaceful and joyful.
Author: Tina Fossella
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Beverly & Pack/Flickr