Polishing and Polishing

This post is coincidental to the last one, but is something I found in Karma Yeshe Rabgye's book The Best Way to Catch a Snake recently:

Once, many years ago, before I became a monk, whilst visiting India, I went to see a Rinpoche to get some profound personal instruction.  I wanted him to give me a practice that would be so effective that I would reach enlightenment in a few years, and then I could boast about my secret practice to my friends.  After about thirty minutes with him, I went away quite disappointed.  All he said to me was this: at the end of each day, I should sit quietly and review all my actions and emotions for that day.  I should think of what was good and what was bad: the bad things I should make a conscious effort to avoid doing again, and the good things I should make a conscious effort to continue doing.  I thought to myself, that's it?  That's your profound teaching?  But after doing what he said for a few days, I started to get the point.  What he was asking me to do was take responsibility for my actions and pacify my mind.  That is profound.  (pg 144-145)

Elsewhere, he writes:

One thing that all these [Buddhist] practices have in common is that they are all skillful ways which lead to wisdom.  In Buddhism, "wisdom" means understanding the true nature of all phenomena and the lack of a true self.  But before we are able to rest our minds in this wisdom, we first have to pacify it and loosen the grip of the three poisons.

This is where a lot of people get stuck.  They hear that Buddhism brings peace of mind, and because they have some psychological problems, they get drawn straight into one of the various Buddhist paths, such as some medieval Tantric practice, and invariably end up going to a retreat without first taming their minds.  Once they are all alone in a room and start analysing their minds, they do not like what they see.  All their psychological issues come to the fore, and they start getting mentally unbalanced.

I have personally seen people go into retreat and become psychologically unhinged.  Some believe that the Buddha is talking to them, others think they are reincarnations of the Buddha, some see hand prints appearing on the walls as a sign of their spiritual achievements, or they start getting paranoid.  This is because they did not begin with calming their minds and understanding their issues.  These people invariably walk away from Buddhism thinking that it doesn't work, and that it has just made them worse.  It is extremely important to first build a foundation. (pg. 127-128)

It's not a cool or glamorous, but a basic foundation in Buddhist conduct and self-reflection makes a huge difference in one's experience.


Author: Doug

A fellow who dwells upon the Pale Blue Dot who spends his days obsessing over things like Buddhism, KPop music, foreign languages, BSD UNIX and science fiction.

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