Buddhism in the Tibetan Tradition:
Geshe Kelsang Gyatso
[This will not be the entire book, only parts of the whole]
[* According to some Tibetan scholars, Buddha appeared around 3,000 years ago]
CHAPTER 1: WHAT IS DHARMA:
*Geshe Kelsang Gyatso states: "All of us have obtained a (*very valuable) human body ... if we do not misuse it ." "If we do misuse our body, then there is no great value in having a human form". "Misusing our human body, is similar to someone who has a large fortune but, instead of using this wealth to benefit others, misuses it by harming them." "It is extremley important to use the potential of our human body correctly." "We can achieve ultimate happiness by using our bodies in a proper manner" (*such as doing spiritual acts of kindness for others). "And we can achieve this state of ultimate happiness, through dharma or spiritual teachings". Gyatso explains: "It is Dharma (*or spiritual teachings/spirituality), that holds living beings back from suffering, fears, and danger, and, we need to exert great effort to achieve Dharma realizations." *Thus, we need to rely on the spiritual teachings of the Buddha, and our spiritual community as well - for support. For, according to Buddha , "Dharma protects us- directly."
*Gyatso continues to explain that when we gain realization, and experience, these realizations and experiences will help solve our inner problems. In turn, this elicits the solving of all of our problems. " ... and, "if we gain the realization and experience of patience, this will solve all our problems which arise from anger. In the same way, if we achieve the realization of compassion, this will solve all of our problems arising from jealousy. And, ultimately, if we gain the intuitive realization of emptiness, the ultimate nature of all phenomena, this will solve all our problems, and, eliminate our sufferings. In summary, Dharma realizations, eradicate our inner problems, and lead us to temporal and ultimate peace." *Next, Gyatso explains one's consciousness, as follows:
"At death, we have no power to carry our body with us into a future life. We can not prevent the decay and dissolution of our body after death.Thus, it is said that, the consciousness, is like a visitor or guest , in a guest house - the body. The consciousness [*or one's spirit, or soul ], leaves the body at death, like a tourist leaving his guest house, and going on to other places. And, in the same way that ordinary people can move to a new house, some highly realized beings can move into another body - at will." *Gyatso further explains:
"Thinking that we will be here forever leads to many problems. The ego, tries to protect itself, by surrounding itself with all the worldly accessories of this life, such as possessions, and mundane achievements. We forget that at the time of death, it is necessary to leave all these things behind. We cannot hope to benefit much from Dharma, if we just sit and listen, or read it passively, ... ". "We can obtain some advantages, from an intellectual study of Dharma, but yet, to obtain the full benefits, we must live Dharma, with all the aspects of our being, and know it truly, through experience. If you practice Dharma [*leading a spiritual life], you will receive many fruits", *he adds, Gyatso continues:
"This means, that we should use our body, ... to practice Dharma. .... We ought not waste this precious ... human body, which will enable us to reach Enlightenment. Misuse of our body, can (*lead us to) commit all kinds of negative actions, instead of helping us along the spiritual path. But through practicing Dharma [*spirituality], we can achieve the full potential of our human form". *I believe here, the Gyatso is reffering to one as using one's body to do positive acts of service or good deeds for others, and not to do negative acts. Gyatso further explains:
"Through Dharma practice, there are three kinds of meaning to be acheived. The highest meaning is to reach full Enlightenment or Buddhahood, in this life. The middle kind of meaning is to achieve self-liberation from the samsaric fears and sufferings. The lowest meaning is to try to obtain a peaceful mind, to solve one's inner problems, and not to be reborn in the lower realms." *Thus, we all must understand and practice spirituality - living a spiritual life.
CHAPTER 2: THE GOOD HEART
*Geshe Kelsang Gyatso believes that: "Whether we commit positive or negative actions, depends upon the nature of our heart or mind. A bad or negative mind will leas us to commit negative actions, and equally, a good or wholesome mind, will lead us to perform positive actions. The result of negative actions, will be many problems; the result of good actions will be happiness. The ultimate happiness of Enlightenment, is also achieved, through the force of a good heart." *According to Gyatso: "
"Even happiness in our family relationships depends upon our having a good heart. A family's love and compassion, is based on the good hearts of its members. For example, for a couple, having a good relationship, depends upon their having good hearts. If the hearts of both the husband and the wife are negative - suffering will result. Thus, in order to attain happiness, from the insignificant temporary happiness, to the ultimate happiness of Buddahood, we must try to develop a good heart." *Gyatso suggests: "We should carefully investigate, how to generate a good heart." *Thus, we can only achieve Enlightenment or Buddhahood, through developing a good heart. Gyatso next explains:
"First of all, we must be able to distinguish, between good and bad states of mind. Then, we should try to eliminate our negative states of mind, and increase our positive ones. Any kind of mind, which disturbs out inner peace, is called a negative or bad mind mind. Negative thoughts, such as: resentment, jealousy, anger, greed, wishing to harm others, holding wrong views, and bad attitudes, wrong discernment, and faithlessness - disturbs our mind, and causes us problems. These thoughts destroy our happiness, and cause us misery." *Thus, strive always, to develop inner peace. Gyatso
"... a person, may have a very positive mind, but then, develops anger. After having a calm mind, if anger suddenly arises, that person, no longer has a happy, or peaceful mind. The angry mind, in effect, steals one's happiness and peace. Everyone, who develops anger or hatred, experiences unhappiness. The result of anger, is the creation of problems. Bad actions, such as: quarrelling, fighting, and killing, are caused by anger. Because of these negative actions, much suffering is experienced." *Thus, it is important to develop a positive mind, and do good acts of kindness. Gyatso adds:
"A jealous or envious mind, also creates problems. The more we have a jealous mind, the more we are unhappy, and cannot find any peace. Likewise, the more attachment we have, the more problems we experience." " ... most of our problems arise because of attachment." *Gyatso next gives us a couple of examples, as follows:
"An thief ... may be sent to prison for the whole of his life, because of his attachment. He first became attached to someone else's possessions, and then, motivated by attachment, stole, and perhaps killed, in order to obtain them. The result of his attachment is imprisonment, and unbearable suffering. Also, in terms of family and personal relationships, intense attachment can lead to problems such as - over-possessiveness. *Gyaso explains that human beings have strong attachment to all of the five senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. And that, these attachments to our five senses, elicits problems for us human beings, whom are not perfect. Gyatso explains:
"Although we all have negative minds ... we have the precious opportunity to practice methods, to stop negative minds from arising, and prevent the resultant suffering. " *Gyatso asks us: "What then, constitute good or positive minds?" *Gyatso answers for us: "Good minds include: beneficial intentions towards others, compassion, loving-kindness, generosity, moral discipline, tolerance, patience, and the joyful desire to practice Dharma. *Gyatso explains to us, as follows:
"A mind, which wishes to gain concentration, a mind, which wises to realize emptiness, or gain the renunciation samsara, a mind, which wishes to attain Enlightenment - for the sake of all sentient beings, are all positive minds. These thoughts, are classified as good thoughts because they give happiness to oneself, and also produce happiness for others". *Thus, Gyatso believes that having a great positive mind can brings forth great power to solve or reduce our own problems, as well as those for all humankind. *Gyatso believes that:
"The more we cultivate a good heart, the fewer will be our negative thoughts. Our difficulties, will also become fewer. The more we develop a good heart, the greater will be our happiness". *Gyatso believes that, we should train and develop our minds. Higher mental development will lead to, a good heart and greater happiness. In other words, all human beings can achieve happiness by first, developing a good heart, by training one's mind. This also leads to a good positive mind and a good mental attitude. When we have difficulties and suffering, that arise in our daily life, turn the negative into positive. In other words, find the good that can arise out of the bad. *Finally, Gyatso describes how to attain inner peace, as follows:
"If we try to develop a good heart, we will naturally find some inner peace. Without cultivating a good heart, we will never find pure peace. If we do not have internal peace, even world peace cannot bring peace to our own mind. it is our duty, to find our own internal mental peace. Pure happiness, and the development of mental peace, cannot be achieved soley, by concentrating on material things. In order to obtain or achieve material rewards, we must exert great effort. While we are exerting this effort, we experience more suffering than happiness. And, after achieving material goals, we find that they cannot satisfy our inner needs. Therefore, we need spiritual or Dharma practices. Especially during a degenerate age ... we need to devote a large amount of energy to Dharma or spiritual practice".
TRANSFORMING NEGATIVE MINDS (Two Methods)
*According to Geshe Kelsang Gyatso: "At first it is very difficult to transform a negative mind, into a positive one. " " ... if someone has an angry mind, it is impossible to transform this angry mind into love - suddenly. Any negative mind which develops, cannot immediately be transformed, into a wholesome mind. " " ... we must first destroy or overcome a negative mind, before a positive mind can arise. Thus, if negative thoughts arise, we should first of all, try to overcome them. Then we should try to transform our thoughts into positive or beneficial ones. " *Thus, develop a good heart, and overcome negative perceptions or delusions. Gyatso continues to explain the two methods, for transforming negative minds:
"There are two methods for transforming negative thoughts into positive thoughts. The fist method, is to overcome negative conceptual thoughts. The second method, is actually, to try to develop a good heart. "If we practice Dharma, it is not very hard to destroy negative conceptual thoughts, including anger and hatred. These thoughts, can fairy easily be destroyed - temporarily, but it is very hard to uproot and eliminate negative conceptual thoughts completely. Until we gain an intuitive realization of emptiness, it is not possible to destroy the root of negative thoughts. But, there are many ways to overcome negative conceptual thoughts - temporarily."
*According to Gyatso: "Although, no one wishes to experience an unhappy mind, unhappy and upset states of mind, frequently arise. Sometimes an unhappy mind arises from: attachment, anger, jealousy, miserliness, or greed. Miserliness, for instance, leads to problems, which cause unhappiness". *Gyatsp next gives us an example, as follows:
"If someone spends a great deal of money, on expensive food, and then later, feels regret that his money is gone, this creates an unhappy state of mind. If it were not for the miserliness, unhappiness would not have arisen." *Gyatso adds:
"Sometimes, by thinking of future rebirths, an individual can become upset. Through worrying, that his or her future life will be difficult or impoverished, unhappiness develops. Owing to attachment, to this present life, thinking that it is very important and precious, mental distress occurs. As long as a person thinks only of himself, of his own welfare, and his present selfish concerns, his inner unhappiness will never end."
*There are two types of causes, of negative conceptual thoughts. The first cause, is the object of the thought, and the second cause, is ones's internal energy wind [or spiritual energy]. *Gyatso tells us:
"It is necessary to achieve the intuitive realization of emptiness, in order to destroy, completely, all of one's negative conceptual thoughts, but there are many methods, to solve or reduce problems temporarily. First, we should know that, an unhappy mind, does not arise automatically, it depends upon causes. Each negative thought, has a different set of causes. Negative conceptual thoughts have two types of causes, which arise simultaneously. One type of cause of a negative thought is the object of that thought. The second type of cause, is our internal impure mounting energy winds (*prana or chi)." [* For example, anger, is caused by negative energy winds or negative chi]. "The energy winds flow through our body, in channels, and the functioning of our mind, depends upon these winds. Energy winds, are responsible for our memory, and conceptual thoughts." *Gyatso continues to explain:
"In most of the Tantric texts in is stated that, we develop negative [*bad or impure] thoughts because of impure energy winds. Although, we now develop many negative thoughts, these thoughts are not permanent. The negative conceptusalizations, like anger, are only temporary - caused by impure energy winds, and meeting an external object of anger. Such delusions, are not dissolved into our root mind, the very subtle mind, which continues from life to life." [*But], "If we do not have any impure energy winds, just meeting an external object, cannot cause anger to develop. On the other hand, if we do not meet an object of anger, even though we do possess internal impure energy winds, anger will not arise." *Thus, to overcome anger, there are two methods we can try. We can forget the internal or external object of anger or stop the impure energy winds from arising. *Finally, Gyatso explains the two meditations, to stop impure energy winds from arising, and to forget the object:
"The same two methods are useful for overcoming other negative thoughts. To prevent attachment, we should try to stop the arising of impure energy winds, and then try to forget the object of our attachment. If we wish to conquer self-grasping, we should meditate on stopping the development of impure energy winds, and then meditate in order to forget the object of our self-grasping. Thus, we have two meditations to do: first, to stop impure energy wings from arising, and second, to forget the object of our negative thoughts. These two meditations solve our problems temporarily, but not finally or ultimately. After we complete these two meditations, it is still possible for our negative thoughts to arise again. Is this happens, we should repeat the same two meditations". *Finally Gyatso adds:
"Secret Mantra or Tantra [*Meditations or chants], contains methods through which we can stop impure energy winds from arising. Most of our impure energy winds, flow through our left or right channel. Our body, has many channels but, there are three principal ones: the central, right, and left channels. The most important, is the central channel. At the moment energy winds cannot flow through our central channel. They flow through our right and left channels instead. But, the energy winds that flow in our right and left channels, are impure or defiled energy winds, which cause delusions or negative conceptions to develop. Owing to this, we should practice the meditation explained below, in order to prevent the energy winds from flowing in pour right and left channels, and causing deluded minds to arise".
MEDITATION ON PURIFYING ENERGY WINDS
"*According to Geshe Kelsang Gyatso: "Through the nine-breath or 9-round purification practice, we should try to expel our defiled energy winds. The defiled energy winds, which help to develop strong delusions, flow principally in the right channel. Therefore, try to obstruct the right channel".
"Begin by placing the tip or your left thumb against the base of your left ring finger, and then make a fist, by closing the four fingers over the thumb.
With this left fist, press on the right side of your rib cage, so that your fist rests at the level of your right elbow, in line with the armpit.
Next, make a similar fist with your right hand but, with the index finger extended. With the back or nail side of the extended right index finger, press the left nostril closed.
Then, inhale smoothly, through your right nostril, visualizing, that all the inspiring strength of the Buddhas [Enlightened Ones] and Bodhisattvas [those who have taken a vow to become Buddhas], enters into you, through the right nostril, in the from of the radiant white light. Feel that, the Buddhas' and Bodhisattvas' blessings, have blessed our mind. Your inhalation, should be a full, deep breath, and you should hold this breath, for as long as possible.
To exhale, move your right index finger over your right nostril, pressing it closed, with the front of the right index finger.
Exhale, all the air, gently, in three equal successive breaths, through the left nostril. As you exhale, visualize, that all impure energy winds, particularly, those from the left side of your body, are expelled, in the form of black light.
With the right index finger, still holding your right nostril closed, inhale through the left nostril slowly, smoothly, and deeply, visualizing, that all the inspiring strength of the Buddhas and Bodhissattvas, streams into you, in the form of radiant white light. Again, think that, the Buddhas' and Bodhissattvas' blessings, have blessed our mind. Remain with this experience, holding your breath, until you become uncomfortable.
In order to exhale, transfer your right index finger again to the left nostril. Exhale, fully, all the impure energy winds, in the form of black light, in three equal breaths, from the right nostril. This purifies our impure energy winds, especially those from the right side of your body.
The last three  rounds, are done through both nostrils - simultaneously.
Your hands can now be placed in the meditation position - palms upward, the right hand resting on the left, and thumbs touching. The hands, are placed in this position - close to your body, just below the navel.
We inhale smoothly, through both nostrils, with the same visualization of white light, as before, than exhale, in three equal breaths, which you visualize, in the form of black light. After you inhale, think that, the Buddhas' and Bodhisattvas' blessings entered your mind, making it very calm. As we exhale, think that, from our left and right channels, and from all subsidiary channels, the impure energy winds depart."
*Gyatso continues: "When the final ninth [9th] exhalation has been completed, think that all the energy winds in our body, have been purified. Our body feels flexible and comfortable".
"After finishing the nine  rounds of purifying defiled energy winds (which can we done several times in succession), we may begin whatever is to be our main meditation, for that session. For example, if we are interested in doing breath meditation, turn your concentration to the subtle sensation, inside your nostrils. As you inhale and exhale- normally, there is a subtle sensation inside your nose. Meditate, on that sensation - single - pointedly, as a general sensation, inside your nose, without locating it, in any one place".
"The nine-round meditation, is very helpful, in preventing negative thoughts, by purifying impure energy winds. If you do this practice every day, it will be beneficial. At the moment, we are unused to this practice, and at first, we may not get quick results from it. But, by becoming accustomed to this meditation, it becomes very useful in overcoming our negative thoughts. This meditation, also helps to overcome anxiety, and other types of unhappy minds".
"This entire practice, can be very beneficial, but its result depends on the way in which it is practiced." " ... although the mediation can be very helpful, if , we do not perform it properly and conscientiously, it cannot help you. But, if we do this nine-round meditation every day, it helps to calm our mind. Thus, we have great opportunity to develop positive minds, such as: love , compassion, and bodhicitta. Otherwise, it is very difficult to develop positive minds, while we still have negative conceptions".
FORGETTING THE OBJECT OF NEGATIVE THOUGHTS
*Next Geshe Kelsang Gyatso teaches us a second meditation, as follows:
"The second meditation, for overcoming negative minds, is meditaion to forget the object of our negative thoughts. In general, any wholesome meditation, that we perform, helps us to forget the object of negative thoughts". *Gyatso explains: Through developing strong concentration [*such as] on Buddha's form, the object of attachment will naturally be forgotten. Similarly, if we have strong anger, visualizing Buddha, helps us to forget the object. If this meditation becomes successful, our anger will be pacified." *For, as Gyatso explains, one can't focus on both objects [*a wholesome meditation and anger] at the same time. *Gyatso tells us: "If we concentrate strongly on one [*the meditation], then naturally, we forget the other" [*anger]. *Gyatso adds:
"The breathing meditation, outlined earlier, will also help us to forget the object of our delusion. If, we forget the object, then our negative minds - (such as anger), will be reduced. Our mind will become peacful. Thus, we can use any positive meditation: on Buddha, on love, on emptiness, and so forth, to forget the object of our negative thoughts. Through the force of these two types of meditation, purifying our internal energy winds, and forgetting the object of delusion, we can destroy all our negative thoughts. After eliminating our negative thoughts, we should try to cultivate a positive mind. Now, thay we have destroyed our negative conception, it is easy to achieve realizations, such as: compassion and bodhicitta [Enlightenment]".
THE THREE PRINCIPAL ASPECTS OF THE PATH
*Next, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso explains the three  main spiritual paths, as follows:
"in Buddhist teachings, there are three  main spiritual paths: renunciation [formal rejection of something], bodhicitta or the altruistic mind aspirin to attain Enlightenment - for the benefit of others [selflessness], and the correct view of emptiness [meaninglessness]. Without depending on these three principal aspects of the path - to Enlightenment, it is impossible to reach Buddhahood [*or Enlightenment]. Within the three principal aspects, we should first try to achieve renunciation. Renunciation, here, does not mean giving up our family, friends, and so forth. It means wishing to escape from cyclic existence - the uncontrolled cycle of birth, death, and rebirth" [*called samsara]. *Gyatso continues to explain samsara:
"If, we consider the fear, suffering, and danger which we have experienced up to now, and also consider the fear, suffering, and danger which we will definitely experience in the future, we will see that, there is no place in samsara or cyclic existence, where these problems do not exist. For example, no one wishes to experience old age but, it arrives naturally. Illness, death, and other miseries also arise naturally, so that we have no choice, but to face them. If, we develop the continuous and spontaneous wish, to escape from cyclic existence, this is called renunciation". *Gyatso continues on, as follows:
"Human beings, have a great opportunity, to achieve the mind of renunciation. Renunciation, is a wholesome mind, particular to human beings. No animal, or example, is capable of wishing to escape from cyclic existence [*or samsara - being a state of awaiting, or in a state of limbo]. Up to now, we have seen and experienced samara fears and sufferings but, we have not developed the wish to escape from them. This is because, we have not met the instructors, who can guide us to nirvana or liberation [*or Salvation]. If, there were no chance to escape from samsara, it would be pointless to cultivate renunciation, and the desire for liberation. But, it is possible to escape from samsara, and there are many methods for accomplishing this". *Gyatso believes:
"Many people, feel that cyclic existence is like a paradide, and they plan to remain in samsara, for a long time. Many people, develop strong attachment to cyclic existence, their main object of concentration, is samsara. Pure Dharma practitioners, however, see samsara as a prison, and develop a strong desire to escape from it. They, cultivate the precious thought of renunciation [*or rejecting samsara]. Renunciation may be hard to develop right now. First of all, we have to see the faults of cyclic existence. The reason that, Buddhist teachings explain the prevalence of suffering, is to enable us, to realize renunciation. Otherwise, it would not be necessary to meditate upon suffering. If, we have great wisdom, it may seem as though we don't need to read books, in order to understand suffering, and neither do we need to receive instructions on misery or dissatisfaction. We, experience suffering ourself, we, also see that others are experiencing suffering. We, know that, the future will bring many experiences of suffering - for ourself and others. If, we are very skillful ... whatever we experience, teaches us Dharma". *Gyatso continues further, stating:
"It may be difficult for us to understand this. We, have to think, mediate, and improve our mind. If, we do this, we have great prospects for reaching spiritual realizations. Then, we will derive great meaning from our human existence, from our precious human rebirth. Should we not practice Dharma, we will one day be faced with our own death, and find that, our life has been meaningless. We, will have wasted the potentiality of the human form. The only thing we can carry with us to out next life, is the virtuous or non-virtuous karma [*the actions and effects] we have accumulated. We, cannot bring our relatives, friends, or possessions. Therefore, it is important to practice Dharma [*leading a spiritual life] - continuously. By depending on Dharma, we can attain the spiritual realizations, which will help us in future lives". *Gyatso finally adds:
"Our Dharma practice [*spiritual practices], needs sustained effort day by day, and year by year. For some people, spiritual realizations may develop quickly, like striking a match. Others, may find realizations difficult to achieve. But, if, we practice, Dharma teachings will become more clear and more relevant to our life. At first, we may be confused by Dharma teachings, because they are very profound. Dharma, may be different from our habitual ways of thinking, it may seem strange the first time we hear it. However, by contemplating, meditating, and reflecting on Dharma [*spiritual teachings], we, can feel that our mind, and Dharma [*spirituality] have mixed together; that our mind has been absorbed into the Dharma. Some people may hear Dharma teachings for many years, but, do not achieve realizations, because their minds and Dharma have not really mixed. At present, there is a wide gap between our mind and Dharma. What we have to do is to bring our mind and Dharma closer and closer - together. If, a person feels that, there is great distance, between his or her mind and Dharma, it is hard to reach trealizations. When, we feel that our mind and Dharma are mixing, or meeting, thee is great hope for attaning spiritul realizations. After some time, we will feel our mind dissolve into Dharma. Then, we can think more deeply about Dharma, and [*finally] attain realizations".
CHAPTER 3: IMPERMANENCE
*According to Geshe Kelsang Gyatso: "There are two kinds of impermanence. The first, is gross impermanence, and the second is subtle impermanence. Although gross impermanence is generally very easy to recognize, we are rarely aware of the gross changes which are continually taking place around us. One example of gross impermanence, is the way that we change throughout our life. When we are born, ... we were small and helpless." "Infancy turns into youth, youth into middle age, middle age into old age, and old age eventually leads to the most vivid example of impermanence - death. Gross impermanence pervades not only all sentient beings, but also, all inanimate things. A flower, is at first fresh and beautiful. But, after only a few days, the flower will lose its freshness, its petals will begin to fall, and finally it will wither and decay. Even the world system, in which we live was once new. From its beginning, until now, it has become many millions of years old, but eventually, it too will be destroyed - completely". *Gyatso continues to explain impermanence:
"All such changes are examples of gross permanence. Our world system and all the beings, and things within it are of the nature of impermanence. We an not find one human being, who never becomes old, and will never die; and we cannot find anything, which will remain permanently in existence, without eventually perishing. Although we can all understand gross impermanence very easily, we rarely contemplate [*consider thoughtfully, examine, or question] its meaning, or the effects it has on us. If, we seriously contemplated the effects of gross impermanence , this would inevitably bring about changes in our way of thinking. We would develop a different feeling for gross impermanence, and the way it functions in our life". *Gyatso adds:
"We usually regard the things which surround us, as well as ourself, to be permanent. However, this is a mistaken view. By meditating [*thinking deeply, focusing one's mind for a period of time, or chanting], on impermanence, we can attain internal realizations, and develop a special feeling about impermanence. " " ... try to cultivate this special feeling". Meditating, on impermanence, causes our mind [intellect] and Dharma [*soul or spirit], to mix together. Without meditating on impermanence, and developing an understanding of it, our mind and Dharma, will never become very close. We, may understand impermanence intellectually, but without meditating on it, even though we may have received many other teachings, our mind and Dharma, will not readily mix." " ... impermanence, is the best method, to transform our mind, into pure Dharma" [*pure spirituality]. *Gyatso continues to explain further, about our own delusion, of our own permanence here, in our earthly existence:
"For many people, it is difficult to develop an interest in and, and the wish to practice Dharma" [* to develop one's spirituality]. One of the main reasons for this, is that we feel and think we will remain on this earth forever. Holding this view, of our own permanence, we are usually only interested in acquiring that which will add to our well-being and security in this life. The stronger the feeling of permanence is, the less interest here will be, in integrating our life with Dharma" [*spirituality]. It is for this reason, that it is said that, whenever we practice Dharma, the first step, is to be mindful of impermanence." * I believe here, that Gyatso is trying to tell us that we are striving to much for earthly material things, while, we should really be striving for spiritual things. In other words, we should develop our spirituality, and not worry so much about excessive material wealth. *Gyatso further explains:
"Contemplating impermanence, thus, is essential to Dharma practice. Because, the most powerful example of impermanence is death, it is useful to examine it. At fist, it may be difficult to face the thought that, we must eventually die, but, if, we are not mindful of death, it becomes very easy to fall under the influence of the thought, which deceives our mind, into feeling that, we are permanent. Although, there are many instances of gross impermanence, which can be observed, meditation on death is an especially effective cause to practice Dharma - purely". * I find Gyatso explanation on Buddha's first step, towards attaining Enlightenment interesting, as he further explains impermanence:
"The Buddha's first step to Enlightening, was meditating on impermanence. It was through the force of understanding impermanence, that the Buddha developed a strong motivation to practice pure Dharma [pure spirituality], and it was through his Dharma practice, that he fianlly attained Enlightenment. When Buddha first gave teachings, turning the wheel of Dharma, he explained impermanence. The Buddha said that, impermanence is the best meditation - for beginners". *Gyatso sums everything up stating:
"Most of our problems, arise from thinking that, everything, including oneself, is permanent. If, we have the realization that everything. including ourself, is of the nature of impermanence, then we will experience fewer problems. Thus, meditating on impermanence, helps to solve our temporary problems. It also helps our spiritual practice, to become very pure. Mediation, on death and impermanence, is the best method, to dispel laziness. It aids, us, in reaching Enlightenment - quickly". *Finally, Gyatso explains:
"Some people may think that impermanence is a very elementary meditation, suitable only, for beginners. But, this is not the case: even very highly realized beings, should meditate on impermanence. Thus, meditating, on impermanence, is important, for all levels of Dharma practice".
MEDITATION ON DEATH AND IMPERMANENCE
Geshe Kelsang Gyatso teaches us that: "The meditation on death, has: three  roots, nine  reasons, and three  determinations. If we know these roots, reasons, and determinations, our meditation on death and impermanence, will be very powerful".
"The three roots of the meditation are:
"The nine reasons, ... (explained by Je Tsong Khapa) are the method, to receive the experience of meditation, on death and impermanence. Although everyone knows that, death is definite, only a few people, have received the experience of death and impermanence meditation. By meditating on the three roots and nine reasons, we can receive this experience". *Gyatso explains the three roots, the nine reasons, the three determinations, as follows:
"1. DEATH IS DEFINITE: [FIRST ROOT]
The first of the three reasons, why death is definite is because, the process of death cannot be avoided, by any method. Until we reach nirvana or Enlightenment, we cannot overcome death, no matter how hard we try. Because, we were born into cyclic existence it is definite, that we have to die. If, we develop a new positive feeling, through this meditation, we should then try to concentrate on this feeling. Meditation, means focusing the mind, on a wholesome object, without forgetting it. If, we develop a strong wish to receive some meaning out of our life, by practicing Dharma, our meditation on permanence is going well. Likewise, if we find, that our clinging to permanence is being reduced, and that we are experiencing fewer internal problems, this also means that our meditation is successful".
"The second reason, why death is definite, is because the length of our life span, decreases, with every passing moment, and cannot be extended. With each minute, the time that remains to us in this life, becomes shorter and shorter. No matter what we are doing: working, resting, or sleeping, our life is ebbing away. Life, is like a candle, which quickly burns down. When we glance at the candle, it does not seem to be becoming shorter; but, actually, it is continually burning away. Buddha, compared our life to a flash of lightening: the lightening strikes, and is swiftly gone. In the same way, life passes very quickly, and is soon over. The great Buddhist master Shantideva said that, with every moment, one's life is passing away, and there is no way to increase one's life span. " " ... there is no way to replace life, once it has passed by. This life, is constantly heading toward its end. In the Sutra texts, it is said that, ever since birth, we are moving toward death. We, should then decide that, in view of the constant shortening of our life, and the certianty of death, we will try to receive some meaning from life, before the time of death arrives".
"The third reason, is that, death is definite, even though we have no time to practice Dharma. We, may devote little time to practicing Dharma, and cultivating our inner spiritual development, but still, we must face death. We should investigate how much time, we devote to practicing Dharma - purely. World activities, take up most of our time. From morning to evening, we are busy with our work: preparing meals, seeking amusements, and so forth. Do we practice Dharma, even when we have spare time? - Usually very little. Then, our life ends, and we face death, even though we have not practiced Dharma very much. Although, we have not received much meaning from this life, death will come. In order to receive the experience from this third reason, we have to examine it, in terms of our own experience. In this way we can try to use this method, to receive the experience of the meditation."
" ... and receive the experience that, death is definite." "For each of the three roots, there is a corresponding determination, that we should make. After the meditation, that death is definite, we should decide" 'I will practice Dharma.' " This determination, is the fruit of the meditation, and if, we really decide this, it shows that, we have received the experience of the meditation".
2. "THE TIME OF DEATH: [SECOND ROOT]
The first of the three reasons, for this root, [also the Fourth Reason], is that the life span of beings on this earth is unfixed. That is, there is no way of knowing how long we will live. There is no difference between young and old: the young may die before the old. Some beings die in the womb, some after birth, and some live to old age. There is no definite order of old and young, in terms of death. Equally, there is no difference between the healthy and the unhealthy, in terms of death. Some unhealthy people live for a long time, whereas, some healthy people die, in accidents, or unexpectedly, before, those who are ill. Therefore, we should think that, the time of death is uncertain, because it does not depend upon our state of health. Likewise, there is no certainty, that the old will die before the young".
"The second reason, why the time of death is indefinite, is because there are many conditions, which lead to death, and very few conditions , which support life. Life, depends on having certain conditions, such as: water, food, air to breathe, and a particular level of temperature, in which to live. If, we lack these conditions, or meet with unfavorable conditions, like extreme cold, death will follow. Thus, the time of death is uncertain, because there are many conditions, unfavorable to life, and we cannot be sure that we will never encounter these conditions".
"The third reason, why death is indefinite, is because our body is very delicate. It is not necessary, to be attacked with powerful weapons, to be killed. Because our body so very delicate, there are many ways to meet death. Snakebites, tiny amounts of poison, or swallowing contaminated food or water, can easily cause death. The time of death is indefinite'. We cannot predict what will happen in the future. Although, we can remember what happened in the past, we are unaware of what tomorrow, and the day after, holds for us. Our future is completely uncertain, and we can never rule out the possibility of dying".
"Among the three roots, thinking that the time of death is indefinite, is the most powerful. "If, For instance, if we know that an enemy is coming to kill us during this month, but we are not sure, on which date he/she is coming, we will be very cautious. however, if everyday we think that, today is not the day when he/she is coming, then we will be taken by surprise when he/she arrives, and we, will be defeated, But, if everyday we think that, today will be the day when our enemy is coming, we will be prepared for him/her. Likewise, if we know that death can arrive at any time during our life, we will be prepared when it does arrive" Through contemplating these three reasons, why the time of our death is uncertain, we should make a strong determination, to receive some meaning or spiritual experience, while we have the opportunity. We, will have to die empty handed, if we, have not gained any Dharma experience [spiritual experience / spirituality] from life.
3. AT THE TIME OF DEATH ONLY DHARMA CAN HELP: [THIRD ROOT]
"The first reason, why only Dharma [our spirituality] can aid us at the time of death, is that, our possessions are useless, at that time. Nothing we own or possess, no matter how highly we have valued and cherished it during our life, can help. If, we think of all our various possessions, our money, home, or car, we can realize that, when death comes, none of these can prevent it. At the time of death, seeking help from our possessions is futile: we have to leave everything behind, when we depart from this life.
"The second reason, that Dharma alone, can help us at the time of death is, because our friends and relatives cannot aid us then. No matter how close we are to our friends and relatives, or our husband or wife, they cannot assist us when we have to die. At the time of death, we have to depart from this life alone."
"The third reason, is that, even our body, which came from our mother's womb, cannot help us, at the time of death. Throughout our life, we have protected and cherished our body. But, this body cannot prevent our death, and when we die, we will have to leave it behind. Thus, at the time of death, neither our possessions, friends, nor our own body, can help. Only Dharma, can help. If, through the force of mediation, and practicing Dharma, we have achieved some spiritual realizations, these will help us. If, we have gained some experience of Dharma, and have received some meaning from life, this, will assist us, at the time of death, and in our future lives." *Finally, Gyatso sums it all up, stating:
"As has been explained, the meditation on death and impermanence has three roots, nine reasons, and three determinations. Making these three determinations, fully, is the fruit of the meditation, and the sign that, we have received the experience. Until, we have fully made these three determinations, we should practice this meditation on impermanence. We, should reflect [*contemplate] on the impermanence teachings - daily, and constantly try to remind ourself, that death is inevitable. No matter how effective modern medicine, or how qualified our doctors, there is no cure for old age and death." " A summary, of the 3 roots, 9 reasons, and 3 determinations is given below, as follows":
"1. First Root: Death is definite.
3 Reasons: I. The process of death cannot be avoided.
II. Our life span decreases with each passing moment, an cannot be extended.
III. Death is definite, even if we have no time to practice Dharma.
First Determination: To practice Dharma.
2. Second Root: The time of death is indefinite.
3 Reasons: I. our life span is unfixed.
II. Many conditions can lead to death, and few sustain life.
III. Our body is very delicate.
Second Determination: To practice Dharma right now.
3. Third Root: At the time of death, only Dharma can help.
3 Reasons: I. Our wealth and possessions cannot help us.
II. Our friends and relatives cannot help us.
III. Our body cannot help us.
Third Determination: To practice only Dharma."
"All examples of gross impermanence, such as death, develop from subtle impermanence. Knowing this, is very important. Subtle impermanence, is much more difficult to understand than gross impermanence, never-the-less, if we think deeply and precisely, about subtle impermanence, we can begin to understand it. Subtle impermanence, refers to the subtle changes, which are constantly taking place, within functioning things. If, we consider a watch, we can easily see that the second hand of the watch moves or changes very quickly. However, usually, we are not aware, that our own body, house, etc., are also changing with each passing second. But, actually, all things are changing every moment. By observing, carefully and precisely, we can realize that our body, and possessions, have subtle changes going on within them. This, is subtle impermanence".
CHAPTER 4: REINCARNATION
"Geshe Kelsang Gyatso explains belief in reincarnation, as follows:
"If someone is a true Buddhist, he or she believes in rebirth or reincarnation. Owing to hearing and studying Buddhist teachings, and practicing Dharma, some people can understand reincarnation, by means of their own experience. Nevertheless, others, including some non-Buddhist philosophical schools, do not accept the existence of reincarnation. There is a philosophical school, called the Charvakas, which do not believe in rebirth. Beside the school mentioned above, there are many people who deny rebirth. The main reason for this, is that they have not seen reincarnation - directly. But, this is incorrect: it is very important to know about former lives and future lives. According to Buddhism, whoever believes there is no rebirth, is holding a wrong view. Such a distorted view, develops through the force of not knowing of the existence of past and future lives. Nowadays, people commonly believe in some hidden things such as tiny atoms or distant stars, which they cannot see. By means of logical reasoning, and other scientific evidence, they can know that these things exist In the same way, we can know about rebirth, even if we cannot see it". * Gyatso next explains that there are two ways in which we can use, to understand reincarnation:
"There are two methods, for understanding reincarnation. The first, is the method, which causes us to believe in a former or previous life. The second method, causes us to believe in the next or future life. If, we know that there was a former life, then, it is very easy to understand, that there will be a future life. Altogether, there are five techniques, for understanding, that we have had a previous life". *Gyatso continues to explain the five techniques, leading to belief in a previous life:
"The first technique, is that through mental instincts or imprints, we can know that there has been a former life. The second technique, involves understanding the continuum, of our mind. The third technique, uses the force of dream appearances, to show that there has been a former life. Fourth, through the force of examples, we can know of a former life. The fifth technique, is that through the force of scriptural authority, we an know we have experienced a previous like. If, we meditate on these five techniques - continuously, it is not very difficult to understand, that there has been a former life. If, we have a proper and discerning attitude, in general, it ios easy to understand former and future lives. If, our attitude or motivation is wrong, then not even Christ or Buddha could make us believe in reincarnstion." " ... it is very difficult to understand". *Gyatso next gives us a more deeper explanation:
1. MENTAL IMPRINTS
*According to Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, as to individuals, having differing mental imprints, he teaches us: "Even though we are all human beings, there is a wide variation, in mental imprints, and tendencies, among people. Some people, have very positive or wholesome mental imprints, whereas others, have many negative mental imprints. Everyone's mental imprints and tendencies are not the same. Two children, from the same family, for instance, can have totally different mental tendencies. The first child, may have strong negative tendencies, such as wishing to harm others, getting angry easily, and disliking wholesome actions. But, the second child, may have a good heart, and the wish to help others, and to perform positive actions. His intentions are beneficial. What, then, is the reason why parents can have children, with such different types of minds? If we consider deeply, these mental tendencies, are due to the experiences of previous lives. One child's mind is positive, because he has accumulated positive imprints; the other child has accumulated negative imprints, from negative thoughts and actions, in past lives". *Gyatso continues:
"Adults too, have different minds and mental imprints. Some adults hate religion, as if it were a poison. But, when others hear religious or Dharma teachings [*spiritual teachings], they regard them as a beneficial medicine.
What, is the cause of these two different ways of thinking? A person, who instinctively dislikes religion, disliked religion in previous lives. But, a person, who instinctively likes religion, has the imprints of a wholesome regard for religion, in former lives. The effects, of mental imprints or tendencies, an also be observed among Buddhists. Some Buddhists, despite energetic efort, have great difficulty, in achieving spiritual realizations. But, other Buddhists reach spiritual realizations easily, without making a great deal of effort. Therefore, spiritual realizations, can be seen to be the fruit, not only of this life's efforts but, also of past live's efforts and tendencies. If, we think about our own mental tendencies and imprints, then, we can understand the existence of previous lives. Visible examples of previous lives, are difficult to find. But, just as the smoke, billowing from behind a mountain, tells us that there has been a fire, likewise, the effects of the mental imprints of our previous lives show us, that, there have been former lives". *Gatso, next explains the continueness of the mind in terms of rebirth, he teaches us:
2. THE CONTINUUM OF MIND
"All external things have two causes. A clay pot, for example, has both a substantial cause, and a contributing cause. The substantial cause, is the clay, which forms the pot [*the clay is the object]. But, along with the substantial cause, the contributing cause of the potter - the potter's hands and tools, is necessary [the potter's hands and tools, are the objects]. All external things, need these two causes: the first or substantial cause, which transformed, into the nature of the product, and the contributing cause, which helps to transform the substantial cause, into the product". In the same way, all internal things, such as mind, have two causes: substantial and contributing. The substantial cause of mind, is the previous continuum of mind. The contributing cause of the mind, is meeting objects. That is, owing to the contact of our senses and objects, mind develops. In order to develop any kind of mind, these two causes: the previous continuum of mind and meeting an object, must be present. The substantial cause, of today's mind, is yesterday's mind. Today's mind, develops, out of yesterday's mind. If, we consider a baby, that baby's mind, developed from the mind, which was in the mother's womb. The baby's consciousness [*soul or spirit], first entered the mother's womb, when the sperm and egg united. But, that baby's mind came from its previous mind, from its previous life. By this method, of tracing back the continuum of the mind, we can know that there has been a previous life".
3. DREAM APPEARANCES
*Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, next explains three differing dreams, and how they relate to belief in rebirth:
"Through the force of dream appearances, we can understand the existence of a former life. In general, there are three types of dream appearanes. The fist type, is the appearance of past happenings of this life. The second type, of dream appearance indicates events which will be experienced later in life. The third type of appearance, relates to other lives, to former, and future reincarnations". [* thus, past present, and future dreams] Gyatso now gives us a more deeper explanation of dream appearances:
"The dream appearances, of the early part of this life, refer to dreams we have now, [*but] about past events; for example, about childhood. We can dream about past holidays, old homes, old friends, deceased relatives, or parents. We, can perceive all this now, in dreams, about our early life. Sometimes, a dream appearance indicates something, which will happen, later in this life. We might dream, that our parents are going to give us a present, and the next day, we find that our parents have sent us money. Our dreams, are sometimes very true. We might dream of a place we have never visited, and then several years later, we do visit that place. Dreams, can predict events, which will occur, later in this life". *Finally, Gyatso adds:
"Apart from these two types of dreams, (about earlier and later parts of this life), any other dream appearance, indicates either a future or former life's action. Sometimes, one might dream of something which, could not [*possibly] happen, in this life. A dream, always indicates a former or future life, if it does not relate to this present life. Sometimes, our dream may seem impossible in terms of our present life, but it may occur in a future life, or already have happened, in a past life. Without cause and conditions, such dream appearances, would not arise. *As to the above explanations about dream appearances, Gyatso, I believe is explaining about dream predictions and dream visions. A prediction, is something that is fore visualized, before it actually happens. Having a vision, is actually visualizing a past, present, or future event. *Gyatsyo next explains the great benefit of using examples as proof, of rebirth:
4. THE FORCE OF EXAMPLES
"Some non-Buddhists, maintain that reincarnation, does not occur, because there are no examples of rebirth. They, may not have encountered people who can remember their past lives, but such people do exist. We, cannot conclude that something does not exist, just because certain people have not observed it. In fact, there are many instances of people who recall their previous lives. There is a more recent example of rebirth, which happened in this generation. When I, was small, I had a very wise teacher named Kachen Pella, who lived in the western part of Tibet. Kachen Pella, had many disciples. When he knew he was going to die, he distributed his books to his disciples. Shortly before his death, a woman from a town a thousand miles away, came to where the teacher was living. The old teacher, spoke to the woman, whom he had never seen before, and invited her to have tea with him. Before the woman left, the teacher gave her a white scarf, and said, 'I will come to your house. At that time, please treat me well.' The woman asked, if the teacher knew her house. He replied, 'I will know your house.' " *Gyatso continues on, with his story:
"The woman, thought that the old teacher wanted to make a pilgrimage, so she said he would be welcome to come to her house. Then, she left, and ten days later, the teacher died, [and] at the time, and on the date he had foretold. Those, who had faith in the teacher, believed he had foretold his death - by clairvoyance; those, without faith, believed he had foretold it - through astrology. Not long after the teacher's death, the woman who had visited him, had a baby. Her child, began to speak, about his previous life, about his monastery, and the names of his disciples. The mother, then learned that the old teacher, had died and thought inwardly, that her son might be the old teacher, who had said he would come to her house. Although his mother said nothing; finally the news of the boy speaking about his previous life, reached the old teacher's monastery, and his disciples. A delegation of monks visited the child, to see if he was the reincarnation of their teacher. When they arrived, the boy called two monks by name, and selected the rosary of his previous life, from among six similar rosaries. The monks, were convinced that this was the reincarnation of their guru". *Finally, Gyatso tells us:
"The monks asked the mother, if they could take the boy to their monastery, where they would care for him - well. The mother said that she had no doubts that the child was indeed the reincarnation of their teacher, but because he was her only son, she would not allow him to go to the monastery. After two years, the boy became very ill, and was about to die. His mother consulted the local lama, about his illness. The lama, advised her to let the boy go to the monastery, otherwise, he would die. Not wishing her son to die, she sent him to the monastery. The boy became a monk, and was even given name of Kachen Pella, the same name as the old teacher. I, was one of his disciples, and there are many more of his disciples still living in India, who can verify, that this is a true story. The reincarnation, of this teacher, is now about thirty years old, and is living in Tibet. The living, realized beings, who remember their former lives, are true examples, of the fact that, there are past and present lives. If, we examine these examples carefully, there is no doubt that, reincarnation occurs."
5. Scriptural Authority
*According to Geshe Kelsang Gyatso:m "Relying on Scriptural authority, to demonstrate rebirth, depends upon one's faith in the Scriptures - the words of the Buddha. For non-Buddhists, the Buddha's statements about reincarnation, may not be sufficient, to dispel doubts. But, a Buddhist, who has strong faith in the Buddha, will be convinced, by what he said about rebirth.there are many scriptures, in which the Budhha explained, that there is rebirth. There is a biography, describing 108 former lives of the Buddha. This biography, is based on the Scriptural authority of the Buddha. If we have faith, we can know, from Scriptural authority, that there is rebirth. If we, have no faith, then we can use logical reasoning, to prove that there is reincarnation. If, we use the five techniques explained here, it is not difficult to understand reincarnation. Once we know, that there was a previous life, it follows logically, that there will be a future life". Gyatso further explains:
"Eventually, our body will decay and die, but our mind never dies. After death, our body can be burnt, but this is not the case with our mind [*spirit or soul]. Mind and body are totally different. At death, or sometimes even before death, the mind leaves the body. Highly realized meditators, can cause their minds to leave their bodies, and enter other bodies. Marpa's son, a Bodhisattva or being, who was seeking full Enlightenment - in order to benefit others, was able to perform this transference of mind. After his body was seriously injured, in a riding accident, Marpa's son decided to seek a new body, into which he could transfer his mind. For this purpose, he needed a flawless corpse. Through the force of his father's clairvoyance, Marpa's son eventually found, in India, the corpse of a realized yogi. With this human body, Marps's son lived for many years in India, giving Dharma teachings. Some people, came even from Tibet, to receive teachings from him". Finally, Gyatso teaches us that:
"According to Tibetan Buddhism, here are many techniques, for causing the mind to enter into another body. This practice, flourished for a time. If the mind can leave the body, in this way, before death, then of course at the time of death, the mind leaves the body, and does not die [*the soul is eternal]. There is something more, after this life. By studying these five techniques, we can know that there is a life to come, after this one. In general, Buddhists regard future lives as being more important, than this present life. That is, whatever sufferings or adverse conditions we enounter in our present life, we should not become discouraged. Instead, we should realize, that we now, have the opportunity, to practice Dharma, to improve our mind by eliminating negative actions, and practicing virtue. Thus, we can create the conditions for higher rebirths, for practicing Dharma, in future lives, and for the final attainment of full Enlightenment".
CHAPTER 5: ACTIONS AND THEIR EFFECTS
* Karma means our actions or acts, and what effects our actions bring about, or cause to bring about. There is both internal and external karma; as well as both negative [bad acts which bring bad effects] and positive karma [good acts which bring good effects]. According to Geshe Kelsang Gyatso:
"Wholesome actions, bring only happiness, and never suffering." " ... all the happiness beings know, is the result of their wholesome actions. Buddhists believe that, is someone has a pleasant or happy life now, this is because of positive actions, he or she committed in past lives. It is also possible that, virtuous actions, performed earlier in our present life, will produce positive results later in the same lifetime. According to Buddhism, our physical, and mental well-being, and happiness, result from our own accumulated positive actions or positive karma. Thus, the cause of happiness, is wholesome karma. Buddhists believe that, without causes, there cannot be any results. When a seed has been sown, a spout will emerge, in a few days or weeks. Spouts are produced from causes, from seeds. In the same way, that sprouts arise from seeds, all other functioning things, also arise from causes. Just as external things, such as sprouts, depend upon causes, likewise, internal things, such as [*the] mind, also depend on causes. There is nothing, which does not have a cause". *Gyatso further explains:
"Followers of the non-Buddhist Charvaka school of philosopy, hold that there is no cause which produces happiness. They believe that, all functioning things, including: the roundness of peas, the sharpness of thorns, the 'eyes' on peacock feathers, occur without causes" and that, " ... [all] types of physical things, are not produced by causes. Therefore, they conclude that, all phenomena, even happiness and misery, arise without any cause. This view, is rejected by all Buddhist schools. Therefore, "Another non-Buddhist school, the Samkyas, maintain that, happiness, is produced by a primal substance or general principle. Their concept of a primal substance, is similar to a concept of god. They believe, that happiness and misery, are derived from the primal substance. The Buddhist schools of philosophy, do not accept this view. Positing the existence of a primal substance, does not explain how dissatisfaction and suffering arise". Gyatso further explains Buddhist thought on happiness and suffering, and misery, as follows:
"The non-Buddhist Vaisheshikas, assert that, both happiness and suffering, are caused by gods, such as Ishvara. According to this view, the external environment, as well as happiness and misery, are caused by gods. Buddhists, consider that this view is incorrect. The Buddhist view, is that, whoever has a happy or peaceful mind, has created this, through his or her own actions, [*internal environment], and equally, whoever has an unhappy mind and much suffering, has produced this, by his or her actions or karma. Thus, [internal] happiness and misery are ... caused by individuals themselves. * I believe here that, Gyatso is correct in stating that, one's internal karma does produce either happiness, or suffering and misery, it is due to one's good actions or bad actions. In other words, happiness, suffering and misery are due to one's state of internal karma. Gyatso continues to teach us:
"According to Buddhism, all happiness, derives from positive causes and conditions, from our wholesome actions of: body, speech, and mind. All the different forms of anxiety, dissatisfaction and suffering, result from our negative karma - our negative actions of: body, speech, and mind. This, becomes clear, through analogy with an external example of causation. A poisonous seed, will produce a poisonous plant, but a medicinal seen, will only grow into a medicinal plant. A peas seed, will only produce peas, not wheat; and a wheat seed, will yield wheat, never peas. Whatever is the nature of the cause, its effect will be of the same nature. Negative causes, create negative effects; while positive causes produce positive ones. If, we wish to experience impeccable happiness, we should strive to produce extremely positive karma. If, we create negative karma, the result, will be unbearable suffering". *Gyatso, further teaches us:
"It is very important, to think about karma and its functions. Until we fully understand karma, we should investigate, how it operates: how good actions, lead to good results; and bad actions, lead to bad results. The powerful conviction, that good fruit derives from good causes, and bad fruit, derives from bad causes, is the real foundation, for all Buddhist teachings, and for all virtuous practices. If, we are not convinced about karma, it is very difficult to practice Dharma - purely. Not believing that, good causes produce good results, is a wrong view, and this thought, is an obstacle, to practicing Dharma. It, closes the door, to liberation. If, we try to understand positive and negative karma, and try to abandon negative actions, and practice virtuous actions, our life, will become meaningful. Whoever, does not wish to experience suffering, should try to abandon negative actions; and whoever, wishes to experience happiness, should practice wholesome actions. *Finally, Gyatso explains:
"Up to the present, we have experienced, many problems, because of having created negative causes. What, we have to do, from now on, is to perform positibe actions of: body, speech, and mind, so that, our behaviour, will be pure and clean. If, we do this, then in future, there will be no basis from which problems, and difficulties will arise. Believing, in ripening karma, that is, believing that good causes, bring about good results, and bad causes, bring about bad results, is a particulary beneficial practice, for worldly[people. By teaching people such a view as this, Dharma helps groups and societies as well as individuals. If, we hold this view of ripening karma, we will have fewer problems, and we, will not waste our life in meaningless pursuits."
THE IMPORTANCE OF SMALL ACTIONS
*Geshe Kelsang Gyatso teaches us that, just one small good act, can cause a large amount of good, he teaches us, as follows:
"Some actions, even though they are small, can create a great amount of happiness or misery. Even a tiny action, can cause enormous results, just as a tiny seed, can become a huge tree. Some small negative action, can bring much suffering, and some small, positive actions, can lead to great happiness. Therefore, we, should not overlook even the smallest action, as we try to abandon negative karma, and create positive karma. We, should never think that, a negative action, is so small, that it does not matter. Rather, we should realize, that it is essential, to eliminate, even the tiniest negative karma [or act], because it, can bring immense suffering. The same, is true for even the tiniest negative karma: it can lead to incredible suffering. Therefore, we, should work to eliminate, even the smallest negative karma, ... . When, we perform small positive actions, we should not regard them as insignificant, or hesitate to practice them because they seem unimportant. They can result in great happiness. *Gatso adds:
"The mango seed is small, but the mango tree is huge, and its fruits - are numerous. In the same manner, small wholesome actions, can produce enormous positive results for us. "Beings, wish to experience many different kinds of happiness, both physical and mental. Happiness, is derived from wholesome or positive karma. The happiness, which results from having wealth, is caused by positive karma, specifically, by the practice of generosity, in the past. The cause of this good karma, is having kept moral discipliene. Each kind of happiness, has a different positive cause. These kinds of karma, are quite easy to understand. It is easy to understand that, being wealthy, is the result of practicing generosity, because the cause, and its effects, resemble each other".
THE INSEPARABILITY OF KARMA AND THE MIND
*Geshe Kelsang Gyatso now teaches us abut positive and negative karma, more deeply, he states:
"There are two kinds of karma [acts or deeds]: negative and positive. We, create our own karma [causes and effects], whether negative or positive, and this karma, is inseparable from us. Likewise, we are never separated from the karma we create, no matter whether it is virtuous or non-virtuous. When, we go on, to our next life, it is impossible to leave our negative and positive karma behind. Whether we take rebirth, our karma will be there too. We, may become separated from our home or our friends in this life, but we can never be separated from the karma we have created. If, our positive karma, is greater than our negative karma, then wherever we will be reborn, we will have a joyful life with one pleasure after another. Our present life, as well as our future lives, will be pleasant. But, if we have a greater store, of negative karma, our present life will be unhappy, and our future lives will be full of misery. Likewise, someone who has much virtuous karma, will encounter favorable circumstances, but a person without this stock of merit or positive karma, will encounter numerous problems. Thus, if we wish to have a good life, we should discriminate, between negative and positive karma, striving to abandon the former, and accumulate the later".
JUDGING OUR KARMA
*Geshe Kelsang Gyatso advises us to judge out own behavior - our actions, the Geshe explains, as follows:
"In our daily activities, we should judge, whether we are creating more negative or positive karma. Usually, we can calculate our money very carefully, but a pure Dharma practitioner, should be even more careful, to assess his or her negative and positive karma. This, is extremely important. At the moment, we ignore karma, altogether. We, do not know when we create negative karma or when we create positive karma. Our life, ebbs away - unheeded. We, need to practice being mindful of the karma we produce, observing, if, the karma we create, is more often non-virtuous or virtuous. If, we discover, that we have created more positive karma, we can congratulate ourself. On the other hand, if, we ave created more negative karma, we should make a confession. *Gyatso continues:
"Practicing sincerely, like this, our activities will gradually become purer". *The Geshe tells us that, observing, and judging one's own behavior and the actions that one commits, is very important. The Gehse believes: "From the first thing in the morning, until the last thing at night" ... judge your own actions, and try "to eliminate negative actions, and practice wholesome ones". The Geshe tells us that: "If, at the end of the day", if, we find we, have committed more negative actions, then positive actions, we, should be critical with oursellves, and strive even harder to do positive acts. But, if, we have done more positive actions by days end, we should praise ourselves, and say: "I, have done very well." The Geshe says, that we should congratulate our selves, whenever we do positive acts, and this will lead us, gradually, in doing more good deeds, for ourselves , as well as for others. The Geshe says: ... try "to eliminate negative actions, and cultivate positive ones." * Gyaso teaches us that:
"Most people, look at the faults of others, and criticize them, but there is no value in doing this. Instead of criticizing others, we should discover our own faults, and try to remove them. If, we cannot recognize our [own] faults, through mindfulness, it will be very difficult to accept the critiicizms of others, these will only produce anger. If, we do not discover our faults, or learn of them, through the remarks of others, we will continue to perform negative actions, until [our own] death. Shkyamuni Buddha said, that a person, who looks for faults in others, is not wise or skillful. But, a person, who looks for his [or her] own faults, is skillful. He [or she], who judges him [or herself], and his [or her] mistakes, is truly wise. As Atisha said, we, should judge our own faults, and not the faults of others".
*Finally, Gyatso explains to us:
"Whenever we commit negative actions, we should drop them, as we would drop a hot iron. We, should not think of our own knowledge and qualifications, as this, causes arrogance to arise. Instead, we should think of the knowldge and qualifications of others; we, should respect and venerate others. The results of our actions, are similar to their causes. Thus, by respecting others, we will naturally be respected - ourself. If, we respect others, without envy and jealousy, then we too, will be respected, in this way. However, if we are highky critical of others, people will begin to show disrespect - to us. This, is very beneficial advice.". In one Sutra, the Buddha explained that, one may be rich, powerful, attractive, and born into a high caste. But, if one does not practice generosity, morality, patience, and other wholesome action, but instead, practices non-virtuous actions, one's situation will become poor, even terrifying, in future lives. Yet, in this life, one had near-perfect conditions. In contrast, if, one is poor, of low rank, unattractive and powerless, but, practices virtue in this life, then one will attain happiness - in future lives".
INANIMATE OBJECTS CANNOT CREATE KARMA
Geshe Kelsang Gyatso declares: "If, we do not commit wholesome or unwholesome actions, we will not receive the fruit of happiness or unhappiness. Inanimate objects, such as stones, water, fire, and trees, do not experience happiness or suffering. They have no ability, to produce karma; and happiness, and suffering, depend solely upon karma. Karma, cannot ripen, on inanimate objects, but only on sentient beings. Only beings, with a mind, create karma. To produce positive karma, we must have the correct motivation. Since the production of karma, depends on motivation, mindless phenomena, do not have the ability to create karma. Some people believe that, flowers and plants have minds because, they can move or respond, to stimuli, such as light. For example, if we pour water on to a wilting flower, it straightens up. However, this movement, is due, not to mind, but to the action , of internal energy winds. Finally, Gyatso concludes and states: " ... if something has a mind, that mind must have an object. Without meeting an object, consciousness, can never arise. A mind, must have something to cognize. Plants, have no consciousnesses, which can arise to meet objects. Thus, plants do not satisfy the criteria, for having a mind".
ACTIONS WILL NOT BE FRUITLESS
According to Geshe Kelsang Gyatso: "In the same way that if, we, do not sow seeds, we, cannot harvest the crops, if, we, do not create wholesome karma, we, cannot experience happiness. Likewise, if, we, do not produce unwholesome karma, we, cannot experience suffering. But, once karma has been created, its results will never be lost [the results of wholesome or unwholesome karma will remain]. External things, decay and become useless with age, but karma, is not like that. Karma, does not decay, and cannot be destroyed by time, fire, or water. Its potential power, will never disappear, until it has ripened. Karmic imprints, from actions we performed many aeons ago, are still upon our consciousness. The mind, is like a storehouse of karma, holding many different kinds of karma, produced in past lives. We, have countless negative and positive karmas, and each has a different function. All these karmas, are like seeds, and our mind, at the time of death, is like water. Any karma, meeting the right conditions, will ripen. Just as there are many seeds in the ground, but only those, which are watered, will grow, only karmas, which meet the right conditions will ripen". *Gyatso, finally explains:
"At the time of death, if we pray, to obtain a human rebirth, this, is a wholesome mind. This mind, is like water, and the moral discipline we have kept in this life, or past lives, is like the seed. When the seed of moral discipline, and the water of prayer meet, we will obtain a human rebirth. Karma, whether wholesome or unwholesome never disappears, until its results ripens. But, the purification of accumulated negative karma is possible. Only declaration or confession of non-virtuous actions, can dispel the potential power of negative karma. The principal cause, of destruction of wholesome karma, is anger or hatred. The main function of anger, is to destroy virtuous karma. unless destroyed by anger, the seeds of wholesome karma, will not disappear, until they ripen, and the result of the wholesome karma, will be happiness. The result of karma is fixed: positive karma, brings happiness, and negative karma brings suffering. The potential power of karma, will not be reduced. For this reason, the accumulated karma, of migrating beings, is extremely powerful, and dynamic. When our karma is ripening, not even a Buddha can prevent the result.
CHAPTER 6: WHAT IS MIND
*In this chapter, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso explains internal and external liberation, and gaining control over one's mind as well, as follows:
"Unless we reach liberation [internal personal or self-liberation], it is an inescapable condition of human existence, to suffer from dissatisfaction. Expecting solutions to our problems, to come from outside ourself, or looking to others for solutions, can prevent us, from trying to make progress. There are techniques and methods, available, for dealing with problems. As it is our own responsibility, to overcome our problems, we must search for, investigate, and use the methods, for dealing with our difficulties. One of the best methods for dealing with problems, is to gain control of our own mind. Mind transformation, is a powerful method, for solving problems. This is because, all human dissatisfaction and misery, arises from the mind, and depends upon it. What feels the effects of troubles and miseries? It is the mind, because these feelings, are part of the mind. Stones, for example, unlike humans, have no feelings because, they have no minds".
Gyatso, continues, as he talks of the external conditions which control the mind:
* I am currently working on the Quran, I will come back to this book soon.