Heart Advice for Practicing Dharma in Daily Life
This interview with Venerable Khenpo Tsewang Rinpoche was conducted at Padma Samye Ling on April 12, 2014. An excerpt is below. You can read the complete interview here: www.padmasambhava.org/sermon/heart-advice-for-practicing-the-dharma-in-daily-life
We’d like to ask for specific practice advice to help with a few common emotional challenges. First, if we feel overwhelmed and burnt out, what is the best practice to do?
Feeling the presence of Guru Padmasambhava, Tara, and the Buddha and practicing on them is definitely excellent. You can also free all those overwhelmed attitudes and thoughts with a deep exhalation and feel them instantly release into space. I think doing that a few times followed by Dzogchen meditation will really help.
If your work is something connected with the Dharma or benefitting beings, you have very excellent principles. So even if it’s over- whelming at times, it’s just really so beautiful and special. It has beautiful consequences, and not just now—the beneficial effects will continually ripple out to all sentient beings for many years to come and throughout time. Remember that you’re doing good bodhisattva activities and the benefits will continue long into the future.
When we read the life stories of the Buddha and great bodhisattvas, they did so many beneficial activities and endeavored with such courage, commitment, and willingness, even when they were surrounded by challenges in every direction. They continued doing their best, even if they weren’t acknowledged or people didn’t approve. They kept their principles and their view, and didn’t shake for a moment. Think about these stories and keep them as examples of how to continually move forward and fulfill all of your good, beautiful goals and wishes, and then do your best. Even if no one acknowledges you, you should feel happy. If you’re doing something good, with principles of love and compassion, be happy and joyful, and offer that to the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, and dedicate the merit to all sentient beings. Join your activity together with the activities of the buddhas and bodhisattvas, Chenrezig, Manjushri, Vajrapani, and Guru Padmasambhava like waves joining together. Connect your attitude and thoughts with theirs, and let it swing through the whole universe of the six realms. Really wish that sincerely and think, “I’m doing good in the eyes of all the buddhas and bodhisattvas.”
If we feel depressed or hopeless, what is the best practice to do?
Depression can be very difficult to deal with, and we should do everything we can to really try to lift ourselves up. We are human beings, which is so special. And not only are we human beings, but we have intelligence and all our senses are alert and intact. We can really feel joyful and happy about that. Feeling depressed means we’re dragging our mind down; we push ourselves into a corner and cover ourselves up with so many habitual patterns and conceptions, and it becomes darker and darker. Why do we have to do that? Even if some degree of difficulty or trouble comes, we have to lighten ourselves up with joy, appreciation, and goodness. There are always troubles in life—no one is an exception. From the president all the way to the big city streets, everyone has troubles. The president has president troubles, senators have senator troubles, governors have governor troubles, business people have business troubles, street people have street troubles. Everyone has their different level of troubles. Who doesn’t experience any troubles? Really think about this: “Who doesn’t have any troubles? I have troubles just like everyone, so why should I feel this way? Why keep hitting myself on the head? I’m a good person. This is going to pass.” This is just a cloud in the sky; it will pass. Thunderstorms don’t last for 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. Everything changes. Think of how things have changed in the past, and of all the ways that you’re fortunate now. Look ahead to the future and move forward.
If we feel anxious and out of control, what is the best practice to do?
I think it’s good to meditate. Come to Padma Samye Ling and do retreat! Relax—look to the sky, the birds singing, the wind and the grass. The deer are moving so slowly and beautifully, the hummingbirds are flying— why do we have to be so anxious? Really, come out of the nest of your house or apartment, and come to the retreat land to relax and meditate for a little while. If you can’t, then just do a short meditation wherever you are. Apply the same techniques that I mentioned earlier: feel joy, lift yourself up and think, “Why am I so worried? I’m spoiling myself, I’m punishing myself—why should I keep doing this to myself?” Really, you have every freedom and right to do good things. You don’t have to keep banging against yourself, overloaded with worries all the time. Of course we have some worries, but worries come and worries go. Happiness comes and happiness goes. Let your mind stay in a free and open state.
If we feel insignificant or alone, what is the best practice to do?
We should bring up more joy and appreciation. Why do we have to feel lonely? We’re not alone—we’re joined by all sentient beings. We all have so many friends everywhere. Even if we’re alone sometimes, that’s fine. Many times it’s like that. We came into this world alone, and we’ll leave this world alone. We are like great lions that travel alone. But lions aren’t burdened by all these emotions, hoping for this and that. You have to uplift yourself. Think, “I have every good quality. I’m going to be happy, stay relaxed, and increase my capabilities.” Even you if don’t succeed in this or that way, that happens all the time. Don’t put your hand in front of your face and only look at your palm. Look to the horizon and out to the world. Many people are having various successes, and others are having difficulties. But if we have courage and commitment, with a big vision and perspective, we can definitely fulfill our goals according to what our situation allows. And for that we should be happy.
I think the key point is that it’s the responsibility of human beings to be happy. Whether you have billions of dollars or not a lot of money, everybody’s goal is to be happy. So try to be happy. According to the Buddha’s teaching, everyone has the capability to be happy because everyone has buddha-nature. Everyone. No one is an exception. Since we all have buddha-nature, we also have every opportunity to activate it and allow it to shine and reflect out beautifully—not clashing and mixing it with our ego and a lot of excitement and attachment, wishing things were different. Our buddha-nature is always ready. Let it shine gently with joyful effort, courage, and commitment.”
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