Spring Teaching 2023 • Two Autobiographical Praises by Mikyö Dorje • Day 3
24 March 2023
On the third day of the teachings, His Holiness focused on the twenty-third, twenty-fourth, and twenty-fifth good deeds. According to the outline from Sangye Paldrup’s Commentary on the Meaning on Good Deeds, there are three parts in the passage discussing how Mikyö Dorje practiced the path of the greater individual:
1) The intention: rousing bodhichitta
2) The action: meditating on the two types of bodhichitta
3) How he trained in the precepts of the two types of bodhichitta
The third part consists of seven sub-topics, the first of which is how he trained in the six transcendences. This has five subtopics instead of six, as transcendent prajna is contained within the discussion on ultimate bodhichitta discussed previously.
The Transcendence of Discipline
Moving on from transcendent generosity taught in the previous day’s teaching, Karmapa began explaining transcendent discipline according to the twenty-third verse of the Good Deeds:
For virtuous actions such as offering and giving
To become causes of perfect buddhahood,
They must be guided along the path of the fine ways of virtue.
I acted in harmony with the codes the Buddha taught.
I think of this as one of my good deeds. (23)
Karmapa elucidated the meaning of this verse through a related passage in the Instructions in Training in the Liberation Story, a text found in Mikyö Dorje’s collected works. He explained, “The main cause of the problems of the world are possessions, wealth, resources and so forth. It is important to be free of attachment to the root of disputes and sensory pleasures. If we are not free of attachment to them, then there is a danger that greed and hatred will arise because of getting or not getting material things or dharma. All of the faults that go against discipline come out of this greed and hatred.”
As a result, Karmapa said, when there is an opportunity to benefit sentient beings, we should not seek our own physical or mental comfort or our own benefit in any way. Instead, like those buddhas and bodhisattvas who work for the benefit of others, we should neither try to build ourselves up nor expect a response. He pointed out that Mikyö Dorje regarded this to be extremely important.
For this to happen, we must have no attachment or fixation to sensory pleasures. We should not consider in terms of ‘self’ or ‘mine’. If we can do this, then we will be able to practice all the disciplines of a bodhisattva, be it the discipline of refraining from misdeeds or the discipline of gathering virtuous qualities.
• Practice According to Our Capacities
Next, Karmapa explained the root verse with reference to Sangye Paldrup’s Commentary on the Meaning. Many people, when viewed externally, seem to spend their time being generous and practicing discipline; they seem to spend their entire life practicing the roots of virtue. He pointed out that, as a matter of fact, the way they practice is not in accord with the dharma. The reason is because they are not actually capable of practicing on that level.
Some of them misunderstand the practice of the three vows: the vows of personal liberation, the bodhisattva vows, and the tantric vows. When discussing how an individual with all three vows should keep them, they believe that the qualities of the higher vows apply and outshine any faults. As a result, they do not turn away from the prohibited transgressions in the vinaya of the Foundation vehicle and commit many offenses that violate discipline. They believe that if there is a conflict between the three types of vows, the higher vow should be chosen because it is more important. This misunderstanding causes them to engage in activities that ruin themselves and everyone else.
In brief, the practice of the three vows is important for all of us Buddhists, especially so in Tibetan Buddhism. Karmapa explained, “This is because we say we practice all three vehicles without mistakes. When we think about how this is practiced in the context of an individual, there are some big issues in terms of determining what we should do and not do.”
In the olden times in Tibet, many great masters and scholars paid a lot of attention to the three vows. For example, the most well-known treatise on the three vows is the Explanation of the Three Vows by Sakya Pandita. In the Nyingma tradition, there is a renowned text on the three vows by Ngari Panchen. In the Gelugpa tradition, there is a text by Khedrup Je. The Kagyu also consider the three vows to be particularly important. For example, there is the particular Taklung Three Vows, considered a feature of the Taklung tradition. In the Kamtsang tradition, there are also many texts.
Karmapa pointed out that when we read these texts, we can see that the masters of the past considered them very significant. In particular, we need to recognize the essence and the types of the three vows. There are some differences according to the different traditions, and these are deserving of our attention. Otherwise, when we impressively claim that Tibetan Buddhism is really important and differs from others, that we practice the Foundation vehicle, Mahayana, and Vajrayana, when we get to the point of the actual practice of the three vehicles, it seems that there are many divisions and conflicts between them externally. Karmapa emphasized, “If we do not understand the actual point behind this, we can develop the wrong view and make incorrect choices about what we should and should not do.”
Mikyö Dorje taught those students who could keep the vows and precepts from the Foundation vehicle the precepts that come from that tradition. For those who could bear the load of a bodhisattva, he taught them the precepts of that tradition. There are also a few who could bear the burden of the Vajrayana teachings, so he taught them the conduct of Vajrayana according to Indian texts and tantras. He taught each individual according to how sharp their faculties were, the degree to which they had gathered the accumulations, and the quality of the antidote in their beings. He gave them instructions on what to do and not to do according to their levels and did not burden them with teachings they were unable to practice. If someone was unable to keep the bodhisattva vows, he would not make them take them. Likewise, Mikyö Dorje would not speak of the importance of the Vajrayana to those unable to keep the precepts.
His Holiness then made the comparison that Mikyö Dorje treated his students the way a wise mother raises her dear children. “When a loving, wise, and experienced mother is raising her children, she is very gradual about it. In the beginning, she gives the child milk and soft and mushy foods, and then gradually introduces them to the food adults eat. If we give a child adult food at the beginning, they would not be able to digest it. Similarly, Mikyö Dorje taught according to the level of his students.”
For yogis who had the vows of individual liberation, bodhisattva, and tantra, Mikyö Dorje did not allow them to engage in conduct that violates the lower vows until they were able to achieve superior qualities of realization. In brief, his students were prohibited from using benefiting others as an excuse when they were actually unable to do so, thus preventing them from doing anything that harmed themselves and others. Karmapa stated that this was clear and forcefully stated in the instructions Mikyö Dorje gave.
There are beginners, yogis, siddhas, and buddhas; Mikyö Dorje understood that when the lower ones try to practice the conduct of the higher, it becomes an obstacle on the path. It is not possible for a beginner to act like a yogi, and one needs to have the realization of a yogi to practice at that level. Likewise, one cannot pretend to act like a siddha, but actually needs to have the qualities of liberation and realization. Therefore, all those intending to practice need to do the practice of the view, meditation, and conduct according to the level of their own being. Mikyö Dorje was skilled in teaching in this way and took a great interest in doing so.
There is no point in trying to do things when you are unable to do them. Karmapa elaborated, “Many say that they are keeping different vows and training in different things, but when you are unable to accomplish something, then you are unable to keep your vows and unable to practice. This violates the precepts and vows and makes your own continuum incorrigible in this and future lives. It makes you someone unreceptive to the dharma.”
Mikyö Dorje always guided his students with great love and taught them gradually according to their levels. This is mainly because when great beings consider things, they have a deep conviction that giving up harming others and devoting themselves to benefitting others is certainly going to be beneficial to achieving lasting happiness in this lifetime. Karmapa said, “Because they have this understanding in their being, they have no choice but to teach people the proper way. They have certainty and conviction, so they have to tell people about it. There is no choice but to teach them unmistakenly, and there is no opportunity to teach the path incorrectly. Likewise, there is no chance they can deceive others because they have to give up harming others to achieve lasting happiness.”
In anytime or situation, no matter who he met, Mikyö Dorje was never deceptive, never acted under the influence of the eight concerns, or had ties of self-interest. Generally, Karmapa pointed out, we have a bit of hypocrisy in us and pretend to be good in front of people while acting badly in private. However, Mikyö Dorje had no hypocrisy. “Whether he was in the midst of an entourage of a hundred people or alone, there was never any difference in how he behaved with body, speech, and mind,” said Karmapa.
Mikyö Dorje did not treat people differently because they were better or worse, influential or insignificant, close or distant; it did not matter if they were good friends or not, how much affection they had for each other, or if there was enmity and resentment. He was always completely straightforward because he had nothing to hide. If we have something to hide, Karmapa explained, then we treat those we know better and have a different expression towards those we do not. However, Mikyö Dorje was not like this. He never altered how he acted, changed his speech, or disguised his intentions; he never had any suspicions or reservations.
As a result, Karmapa explained, people did not have to be careful or apprehensive when they came to meet him. Upon meeting Mikyö Dorje, many exclaimed that this guru was different from others and felt amazed, and immediately generated faith in him. Likewise, unlike most of us, Mikyö Dorje had no faults to hide nor secrets to keep. He had few afflictions in his mind and realized that appearances are like the play of illusion, so he seemed like a child from his external appearance. Karmapa clarified that children are not really worried about how people look at them, and do not have a lot of attachment or hatred, unlike adults.
Likewise, His Holiness elaborated, with all the people in his entourage, whether high or low, Mikyö Dorje never thought, “This one has done this unwholesome act or done this offense.” No one ever heard him say anything like that. Karmapa explained, “For this reason, the more you knew him, the greater your belief and faith became. It’s like we say in Tibetan, we can know what someone is like either through our first impression or after knowing them for three days. The more you were familiar with Mikyö Dorje, the more faith you had in him.” This was a common perception that everyone shared.
In brief, because Mikyö Dorje had no mistakes or regrets about his body, speech, and mind, he did not feel he had to be cautious or hide anything. This is what is meant by the three ways in which buddhas have nothing to hide; many of his students said this about him.
Karmapa expressed another particular feature from the life of Mikyö Dorje was that he was able to point out directly to students that this fault of theirs was a fault, eliminate their faults, and get them to accomplish qualities. Since he had no faults or anything reproachable to hide, he was able to point out his students’ faults. Karmapa said, “To do so, either you have to have no faults, or you have to pretend that you don’t,” and illustrated this further through one of Drukpa Kunley’s stories.
Once, some people requested the dharma from Drukpa Kunley, who replied “Teaching dharma isn't easy. To teach dharma, either you have no faults, or you have them but still pretend to teach it anyway out of audacity. Neither applies to me, so I cannot teach you the dharma.”
Thus, Karmapa emphasized that we need to free ourselves of the influences that would cause us to commit non-virtuous actions and behave in a way that causes the positive virtuous qualities to naturally increase. Once this happens, we will naturally be associating only with people who practice virtue. Otherwise, teaching others how to sever their faults and afflictions whilst also having many of them is a fruitless activity.
• Transcendent Discipline According to “He Searched Thoroughly”
Next, His Holiness turned to the sixth verse from the praise “He Searched Thoroughly”. According to the Fifth Shamar’s annotated commentary on this praise, this stanza teaches the discipline of not giving in to the affections and the dhyana of suppressing the afflictions.
He never gave afflictions or evil thoughts a moment’s chanceTo give a brief gloss of the words:
And built a dam of antidotes in case they arose.
Never letting go of the good ways of virtue,
He was a friend who brought benefit—to him I pray.
“He never gave afflictions or evil thoughts a moment’s chance…”: If afflictions such as hatred were to arise, Mikyö Dorje would build a dam or dike of loving-kindness. Karmapa likened this to a Tibetan saying, “Before the flood comes, you have to build a dike.”
“Never letting go of the good ways of virtue”: This means having a conscience, being modest and that he never gave up on them.
“He was a friend who brought benefit—to him I pray” means we have to supplicate this spiritual friend who brought benefit to others.
His Holiness pointed out that the main structure of Mikyö Dorje’s biography found in Pawo Tsuglak Trengwa’s Feast for Scholars is the praise “He Searched Thoroughly”. It is stated here that any action that is conditioned by a motivation of the three poisons will only bring negative and unvirtuous results. Karmapa elaborated, “Even when greed, hatred, and delusion are not obvious, if you're doing a virtuous action with a motivation for this life, this is not true dharma, but pseudo dharma. At the very least, to qualify as dharma it must be for the sake of future lifetimes. If you're not thinking about the next and future lifetimes, then you're not actually practicing dharma.”
The third point is that practice motivated by achieving peace for your own sake cannot be the cause of achieving the great nirvana or buddhahood, but becomes a cause for the temporary nirvana, the state of the listener and Pratyekabuddha arhats.
Karmapa indicated that all these three different types of wrong or lesser, inferior intentions are encompassed by the phrase “afflictions or evil thoughts,” and Mikyö Dorje never let such intentions arise for even an instant.
For example, when a bodhisattva is on the verge of awakening to buddhahood, the evil Mara creates many different emanations and tries to provoke thoughts of desire, anger, and malice. Similarly, if we are a bodhisattva, it is possible that afflicted thoughts may arise. However, in that very moment, we need to repudiate them with the repudiating antidote, distance ourselves from them with the distancing antidote, and completely abandon them with the abandoning antidote.
“The moment that the affliction arises, you must whack it down. This means that when it arises, you must recognize it and then you need to apply the antidote. Therefore, you need to build the dam before the flood comes; you have to prepare that dike before the afflictions occur,” Karmapa explained. In short, Mikyö Dorje essentially had no afflictive thoughts, and had the antidotes ready in case one did arise.
The third line of the stanza, “Never letting go of the good ways of virtue”, means that Mikyö Dorje never let go of the virtue of the three vows and was perpetually a good friend to all beings. Karmapa likened this to the qualities of the Buddha. For example, if there is a person anointing the Buddha with sandalwood and massaging on one side, and someone coming at him with an axe on the other side, from the Buddha’s perspective, there is actually no difference between the two. The Buddha has only thoughts of equanimity, devoid of attachment or aversion to either of them.
On the other hand, Karmapa pointed out, this example does not apply to people like us. We immediately get angry when someone says bad things to us, and become instantly delighted when we are praised. For the buddhas and the bodhisattvas, there are no such thoughts of attachment or aversion. Regardless whether beings are helping or harming them, in response, they benefit them.
In brief, there was not a situation where Mikyö Dorje would remain neutral with body, speech, and mind, as he was constantly engaged in the ten virtues of dharma practice.
The Transcendence of Patience
Returning from the intermission, His Holiness continued with the twenty-fourth of the thirty-three good deeds.
In both causes and results, the Buddha’s wordsDrawing from Mikyö Dorje's Instructions in Training in the Liberation Story, Karmapa stated that a bodhisattva does not have any expectation or wish for some sort of a response, no matter how much they have helped others.
Are easy to practice at first and have great purpose in the end.
Since practicing them is not a source of harm,
I practiced patience toward the Tathagata’s teachings.
I think of this as one of my good deeds. (24)
Karmapa explained that this is because bodhisattvas understand that all sentient beings are by their nature deluded. “They're naturally intoxicated by the afflictions, thus unable to recognize what was done, and they do not realize they have to repent. And because of this, it's possible that they might praise or criticize you.”
Likewise, apart from harming others, there are also infinite ways in which sentient beings have been harming themselves since beginningless samsara. “Bodhisattvas understand that sentient beings have always behaved badly and viciously, and have never gained even the slightest bit of happiness. When bodhisattvas think about this, they feel even greater compassion, and there's absolutely no opportunity for them to get angry because they understand the nature of how things are,” Karmapa explained. Thus, the more viciously and harmfully beings act, the more compassion bodhisattvas feel for them.
As His Holiness mentioned earlier, in Sangye Paldrup's commentary, sentient beings have been controlled by their afflictions. They commit various different types of misdeeds, particularly in degenerate ages when there are a lot of coarse afflictions. For this reason, it is difficult for them to do what they should and not do what they should not do. “What they accomplish are the pleasures of samsara, but they call it by the name of spreading the Buddhist teachings, and there are quite a few people who are like this. They put up with many difficulties in order to do this. While doing so, some people would praise them, ‘Oh, what a great lama! This is someone with a lot of fortitude, someone who does innumerable hardships to spread the Buddhist teachings,’” explained Karmapa.
What were Mikyö Dorje’s activities like? His Holiness stated that Mikyö Dorje would often say to himself:
“No matter what worldly activity you may do, it's difficult to do in the beginning. It's possible that later you might accomplish some, but even if you do accomplish some, there really aren't many pleasant results. They don’t bring any result of happiness the way you expect them to. They're actually suffering by nature.”Instead, Mikyö Dorjee had great certainty that serving the Buddhist teachings is good in beginning, middle, and end. In order to benefit others and spread the teachings, he would even go to the point of sacrificing his own life for the sake of accomplishing the dharma and to spread it to others.
For example, Karmapa explained, because Mikyö Dorje was patient and forbearing in accomplishing the root of virtue of non-hatred, he was able to take other people's suffering upon himself. Likewise, in accomplishing the root of virtue of non-delusion, he was able to distinguish what was and what was not the path. Whether it was for achieving the higher states or the path of true liberation, Mikyö Dorje clearly knew the right path from the wrong.
Karmapa elaborated, “Since he had tasted the nectar of the dharma, he felt uncontrollable faith in the dharma. He had really deep faith within his being and his mind. And so for this reason, he discarded all actions that contradict the dharma and never thought of accomplishing them.”
Mikyö Dorje was someone who practiced the dharma purely; he didn't mix the dharma and non-dharma. As a result, many people in his entourage urged him, “Sometimes you have to do a few worldly things,” out of a wish to help. They would say, “Your Holiness, you do not know how to subdue enemies or protect your friends. You don’t know how to accumulate wealth or gather a retinue. You don’t thank those who serve you, nor punish those with bad behavior. You have no plans for the future and no resentment over past actions. You don’t keep anything in your mind. If you continue like this, you won’t have anyone to serve you.” People from other schools from Central Tibet, Kham, Kongpo, and so forth would make criticisms, “Mikyö Dorje has no aims for either dharma or worldly things. He says he's doing things according to the dharma, but there's nothing real there that you can count on.”
Nevertheless, Mikyö Dorje was never offended. It was like giving water to the thirsty—that was exactly what he needed. He himself said, “If the enemies are delighted and your friends are weeping, then it's like a sign that you're being expelled from the ranks of people who work for the sake of this life. So it is a sign that you've integrated dharma into your being. So for this reason, when the teachings are like stars shining at dawn, is it at all possible to make a connection that will help infinite beings enter the dharma? I think it’s a sign that you can.” As a result, Mikyö Dorje was delighted about this.
In brief, Karmapa explained that when speaking about Maras who block our dharma practice, this does not refer to ferocious-looking people standing outside the door. Sometimes it can appear as an enemy or a friend; those who create obstacles for this lifetime and prevent us from practicing the true dharma are like enemies or emanations of the Maras. But no matter what they did, Mikyö Dorje never gave up on the dharma.
When most of us encounter a few difficulties in this lifetime, His Holiness explained, we think “Oh, I can't do it” and kind of give up. This means that the Maras have won. He encouraged, “No matter how many difficulties or suffering we have, we should not give up practicing the dharma or trying to benefit others. It may look on the outside as if you're experiencing a lot of hardship and difficulties, but in actuality, you've won. You've defeated the Maras.”
Karmapa expressed that this is an example of the patience of not thinking anything of people who harm you and of putting up with suffering. He indicated that this is a sign of integrating the dharma into your being.
The Transcendence of Diligence
His Holiness then continued with the next transcendence on diligence. According to the root text:
Knowing that weak intentions and actions do not suffice
For reaching the vast kayas and the profound dharmakaya,
With body and mind continually for untold aeons,
I’ve kept my commitment to achieve the kayas of a bhagavan.
I think of this as one of my good deeds. (25)
Referencing Mikyö Dorje's Instructions in Training in the Liberation Story, as Karmapa mentioned earlier, when working for our own and others' sake, or in order to achieve the state of buddhahood, there are many different dharmas that impede us or harm ourselves and others. We have to accept and be patient with them. He explained, “If someone harms you and you return that with harm, then you have got the bodhisattva behavior wrong.”
Doing so is contrary to the bodhisattva's discipline of refraining from harmful actions and the discipline of gathering the virtuous qualities, or in terms of achieving the result of a perfect Buddha. We become like an enemy to our own practice. For this reason, Karmapa explained, there is no choice for a bodhisattva but to be forbearing toward those who harm them, and patient with those who impede them in dharma practice.
His Holiness further elucidated, “Sentient beings have done vicious and horrible things from the very beginning of time. Just as there's no end to space, there's no end to terrible sentient beings. And just as there is no end to vicious sentient beings, the activities of the bodhisattvas are limitless. In order to be able to do so, they must have extreme enthusiasm to be able to benefit such sentient beings. Their diligence must be like the fire at the end of an eon burning everything up, like burning up the wood of laziness. Otherwise, it would be inappropriate to become attached to the temporary pleasures of worldly and supramundane dhyana and remain in solitude, not accomplishing the two profound and vast bodies.”
The Diligence to Attain Buddhahood
Next, turning to Sangye Paldrub's commentary, His Holiness indicated that these days, some people misunderstand the methods to achieve buddhahood, in particular the Vajrayana explanation of how fortunate people of sharp faculties can reach buddhahood in one lifetime. These people think, “We don't need to be diligent for a long time if we know the secret points of the Secret Mantra, where there are many means and little hardship. We can awaken in a transcendent state of non-action.”
Karmapa stated that the state of perfect buddhahood is having unimpeded knowledge of all phenomena and their nature. Those with this can turn the wheel of dharma without impediment, in accordance with the faculties of all sentient beings throughout space. He explained, “This is the interconnection of cause and result. In order to achieve such a perfect interdependence, you need supreme diligence. In addition, you must be able to continue until you achieve complete and perfect buddhahood.”
In brief, His Holiness expressed that it is really difficult to achieve the state of omniscient wisdom, but some people do not understand this. They speak of dharma practice as something probably pretty easy to do. He elaborated, “Some people think that they need to subdue their enemies and protect their friends, and they get a little bit tired of doing this, so they get a tiny bit of a wish for liberation, but not an actual wish. They want to spend a few weeks or months staying in retreat.“
In addition, some people find getting food and clothing difficult because they have to appease a lot of people in the process. They mistake getting barely adequate food and clothing for the austerities the Buddha practiced. Next, Karmapa pointed out that there are some who do not enjoy any wealth and resources in this lifetime, thus they had nothing to give up. Instead, when they encounter some difficult points in the teachings and the three trainings, they they give them up and imagine themselves to be yogis practicing non-action.
Furthermore, there are also some who do not understand even a single point about what you should or should not do in this lifetime, but have heard that the mere clear aware mind is the intention of the buddhas of the three times, so they think “Oh, I've realized the intention of all the Buddhas; I've recognized the nature of the mind, so I'm free of any result to achieve. There's no need for me to be diligent anymore.”
The way Mikyö Dorje practiced diligence was very different the way these other people practiced diligence. These people are not practising actual diligence that is in accord with the dharma. Karmapa explained that Mikyö Dorje understood that only a small intention and excitement is not enough. He elaborated, “In order to achieve buddhahood, you need to have the vast causes such as the means and the prajna, and that you can't do this just in a partial manner. You have to have this unbearable love and great and pure intention. It shouldn't be just for a few days or a few months but until you achieve buddhahood. You need the great diligence that never turns back.”
In addition, we also need the cause for achieving perfect buddhahood—the vast accumulation of merit and wisdom, and the conditions of faith, longing, and the wish for liberation. These also have to be infinite. Likewise, we also need to apply our body, speech, and mind to immeasurable virtuous roots—non-greed, non-hatred, and non-delusion. This requires a vast diligence that is unbreakable like a great armor.
His Holiness then explained the duration for attaining buddhahood. “According to the Secret Mantra, people of lesser faculties do so in sixty lifetimes if they do not break the precepts of the vows of Tantra. If your faculties are slightly sharper, then you can achieve this in sixteen lifetimes. Those of extremely sharp faculties can achieve buddhahood in one lifetime,” he said.
According to the Prajnaparamita or the sutras, it takes three uncountable eons for those bodhisattvas with the highest faculties. For those with the middling or the least faculties, it takes thirty-seven or more uncountable eons to gather the two accumulations and achieve buddhahood.
For a Vajrayana practitioner with the highest faculty to achieve buddhahood in one lifetime, they must have already gathered the accumulations in previous lives. This means that they have all the causes and conditions and the accumulations of merit and wisdom already within their being from previous lifetimes, so they do not need to work so hard in this lifetime. In order to become someone with sharp faculties, you need to have all the causes and conditions, which is again from having gathered many accumulations. Karmapa stressed that this is a really important point that we need to understand.
In brief, achieving buddhahood is not easy at all. He explained, “You need an inconceivable accumulation of merit and wisdom, in addition to purifying your obscurations. To do so requires incredible diligence that is unlike the one we usually speak of.”
What sort of diligence do we need? Karmapa illustrated with an example: There are numerous volumes of the dharma which fill this entire universe with a billion realms, so that the entire universe became this huge library. Within this library, would you be able to be diligent enough to understand the words and meanings of all of these texts? He added, “Even if you have such diligence, you shouldn't think that's enough to achieve buddhahood.”
His Holiness provided another example: In all the different realms in the ten directions, there are innumerable sentient beings. It is not just this earth we are speaking of, but all the sentient beings in all the ten directions and all the universes. We must wish to give them all happiness and bring them all to buddhahood. Are we able to have the diligence to make an effort towards doing so?
He pointed out, “In this lifetime, we help and benefit some people, and that's difficult. But for the bodhisattvas, they work to benefit and bring sentient beings wherever they are to buddhahood. That's the type of excitement and enthusiasm we need to have. It is easy to talk about it, but if we talk about it in terms of our experience, it is not easy at all.”
Even just having that enthusiasm is not really enough, His Holiness reminded us. The enthusiasm of reading and understanding a universe filled with dharma volumes needs to persist until the end of all sentient beings, until the end of the dharma expanse. He stressed, “Throughout this process, we must never let that excitement and enthusiasm diminish. Only if you do that, then can you achieve buddhahood. You need to be able to continue your enthusiasm.”
His Holiness then explained that during the time of Mikyö Dorje, there were hundreds of different philosophical texts. Mikyö Dorje studied them without any difficulty, even though many people thought it would be very difficult to understand. He also had tens of thousands of students and they did not all have good conduct or intentions. Nevertheless, he never seemed to be exhausted by them, nor did his diligence wane. Another example was that when Mikyö Dorje was writing many different texts, he encountered thousands of different obstacles, none of which dampened his enthusiasm.
Karmapa urged us to take a lesson from Mikyö Dorje’s diligence and train in becoming like that ourselves. He explained that we call a bodhisattva a ‘hero’ [Tib. pawo], one who is different from ordinary people. For example, only one in a hundred or two in a thousand are heroes. Bodhisattvas are praised as such because they have courage, compassion, and pure intention unlike anyone else's. It is not easy to become a bodhisattva, and achieving buddhahood is even less easy. Therefore, Karmapa urged, we need to study and train in this.
His Holiness then clarified that when we say that it is not easy, it does not mean that we should get discouraged. We should not think, “Oh, it's really difficult, we ordinary people cannot possibly do that.” He pointed out that thinking in this way is itself the laziness of self-deprecation, which is the worst kind of laziness.
Karmapa explained, “All sentient beings have the basis for achieving buddhahood. Buddha nature is present within the continuum of all sentient beings. We are able to gather accumulations and purify misdeeds. For that reason, we all have the chance to achieve buddhahood. If we take the opportunity, then we will achieve it. If we don't take it, then we won't achieve the state of buddhahood.”
Whether we have dharma or worldly plans, we can achieve results if we put effort into it. For example, in terms of feminism or women's rights, or if we talk about nuns, we aim for nuns to be able to receive educational opportunities equal to the monks. We can realize this if we seize the opportunity and put in the effort. However, it would be difficult if we just thought, “Oh, something will happen” and wait for an opportunity to come.
His Holiness emphasized that no matter what we are doing, be it worldly or dharma, we need to try and put effort into it, and then we can obtain the results. It is important for us to know this, and attaining the state of buddhahood is exactly the same.