The Eight Ornaments of Profound Meaning
In the song of the saint Milarepa, The Eight Ornaments of Profound Meaning, I am now going to speak of the fourth ornament. Before, we saw the three first points: philosophical view, meditation and conduct. The three first ornaments have thus been explained. The fourth concerns the oral instructions of oral transmission. In general, the lama's words are the teacher's oral instructions or the essential instructions. What are the oral or essential instructions?
They are those which give rise to the experience of the union of bliss and emptiness, the experience of bliss and of emptiness. When one realizes the nature of emptiness, if one dwells in non-fabrication, in the natural state, the experience of bliss and emptiness arises, and when this experience happens, one speaks of the instructions of the oral lineage. When the lama transmits the instructions of the oral lineage to the disciple, he gives rise to the experience of bliss emptiness in the disciple's mind. In the same way, when the lama transmits the instructions of the oral lineage, the disciple himself should also at that moment meditate on the experience of bliss emptiness. The purpose of the oral instructions of the oral transmission is to give rise to the experience of bliss emptiness.
In general, one receives the oral instructions which can give rise to the experience of bliss emptiness, but one has no confirmation. If one possesses the oral instructions, one also requires proof, the ornament. One probably possesses the oral instructions, but not the ornament. What is required in order to possess it? For example, if a human being wears a piece of jewelry, an ornament, that makes him or her even more beautiful and elegant. In the same way, the instructions of the oral lineage can give rise to bliss emptiness. What kind of ornament is then required? It has to be linked to the four initiations: the vase initiation, the secret initiation, the initiation of transcendent and primordial wisdom, and the fourth initiation. If it's linked to the four initiations, then it¹s the ornament, the proof that can be shown to others.
What is the fifth ornament? The fifth ornament is that of the progression throught the levels and the paths. What are the levels and the paths? First the view of emptiness has been determined by analyzing the nature of phenomena and one has attained a certainty. A certainty has thus been established concerning the mode of being of phenomena. Upon that, one remains in meditation on non-fabrication and then the experience of bliss-emptiness arises, the experience of clear-light arises. The experience of clear-light arises and as it increases more and more, one progresses higher and higher on the levels and paths. For example, by the emptiness potential of our mind, the adventitious veils decrease, and essential wisdom develops and so by stages the levels and the paths are covered, the first level, the second, etc... the power of primordial knowledge increases more and more, the adventitious veils decrease. Gradually one evolves on the levels and the paths. What is this progression based on? It is the experience of emptiness which increases more and more. It¹s the progression on the levels and the paths.
The experience of emptiness increases more and more, and this is the progression on the levels and the paths. Although one attains the levels and the paths, this is not enough, proof is required, or again the ornament. If the ornament is there, then there is splendour or again, proof. What proof is required? Progression must be linked to the signs of the path. For example, when one attains each level, one must be able to show the signs. If a person is on the first level, when she or he reaches the second level, instantly, she or he can meet hundreds or thousands of Buddhas, and manifest miraculous powers. When one reaches such and such a level, one can show the signs of miraculous powers, and the corresponding qualities to each level develop. If the qualities are obtained and develop, this is the ornament.
For example, the day before yesterday, I explained view. The ultimate view to be realized is the view free from extremes. The realization of the view is necessary, but one must be able to demonstrate the proof to others. If there is the ornament, one must hold the writings and the reasoning. The writings are the words of the Buddha. For example, if I have realized the view, I must be able to explain this view to others, it is not enough to simply assert that I have it. One needs the writings and the reasoning. If one has the writings and the reasoning, that is appropriate. If one does not possess the writings and the reasoning, other people have no trust. Concerning view, not only does one need realization, but also the proof through the writings and the reasoning.
As far as meditation is concerned, in general one meditates, and even if one has realized the nature of meditation, when one speaks to others one cannot prove it. Of course, meditation is not something which is tangible, which can be shown to others, it's an inner experience of the mind. What can one say to others? One should be able to tell others that one has this meditation experience, and one should be able to explain it, this is very important. This is the ornament of meditation.
The sixth ornament is complete realization, Buddhahood in one lifetime. For example, holy Milarepa became a Buddha in one life time. What does becoming Buddha in one lifetime mean? It is the exhausting of the mind. The term of exhaustion can be understood as the accomplishment or the perfection of the mind. All phenomena are, by nature, void of reality, not real, by nature they are emptiness. The very nature of mind, in its state of confusion, is not seen or realized as empty, there is existence, or the manifestation of appearance. We believe in the reality of the phenomena which are appearing. From this perception, comes attachment, attachment to objects arises. On the basis of this attachment, poisons such as desire attachement, aversion, and ignorance appear. So, in the beginning, what is necessary? In our mind, at the level of confusion, things appear as existing. What does it mean to realize Buddhahood in one lifetime? The appearances of our mind, all phenomena are empty of self-nature, they are emptiness. They vanish into emptiness. All phenomena reabsorb into the mind. If one realizes it, that is what is called Buddhahood in one lifetime.
For example, nowadays, scientists are doing research on material things, like on a house. They analyze the reality of components, of the smallest particles such as atoms. Having done their analyses, they discover that the tiniest particles are without any reality, not permanent, that nothing is self-existent. They analyze the tiniest particles. Nowadays, they say that there are no particles, that nothing material can be found. What does one find? One only finds light, there is light and no particles. In general, scientists are able to analyze the absence of nature of phenomena, but they have no practices. They can understand that phenomena are devoid of self-nature, but they do not practice. Scientists can understand that phenomena, like a house, are devoid of self-nature, they understand it, but they have attachement for this house, they have not reversed the attachement. Why is this? Mainly because they have no practice, there is attachement. We practioners must not limit ourselves to analysis, but we must practice, that is the difference between these two approaches.
As in the case of meditation, one may have realized that phenomena are devoid of self-nature, that one is fully awakened, but if others do not see any change then it is not convincing. What is necessary? One needs the ornament. What must this proof be? It has to be linked to the four bodies of Buddha, the nirmanankaya, the sambhogakaya, the dharmakaya, and the fourth, the essential body. One needs either to obtain the nirmanankaya of a Buddha, or to obtain the sambhogakaya of a Buddha, or to obtain the four bodies of Buddha. Although one obtains Buddhahood in one lifetime, if there is no visible outer change, others may have doubts. They may say: Oh, he has realized the nature of phenomena, but he hasn't changed! The nature of the mind can not be shown on the outside. For example, once one has crossed the river, the view from the other bank of the river is different from this one. Others can not see it on the outside because realization is inside the mind. So proof that can be shown on the outside is required. It must be linked to the four bodies of a Buddha.
In general, human beings have a lot of thoughts. We have a lot of thoughts, good thoughts and bad thoughts. In my opinion, we mainly have negative thoughts and few good thoughts. Why? Because we are under the sway of numerous disturbing emotions, and their power is such that that we are little inclined to good mental attitudes. It is easy to remember what is bad, and we know how to do that. We don't remember what is positive. When we speak of enlightened beings, there are only a few, there aren¹t many. The rest, what isn't positive, everyone can think of that. We don't have to rely on holy beings to learn this. Negativity, doing negative things, we can all think of that, we know how to do that. But when we speak of Dharma, of the nature of phenomena, we don't know. We don't understand, we have a hard time understanding. Even if we are taught, sometimes, we don't understand. What is bad, we don¹t have to talk a lot about it, we remember it, we know how to do it. In general, we are under the sway of wordly distractions and very seldom influenced by the dharma. This is the main reason, and the power of disturbing emotions is great.
In our world today, there are many situations in which truth is distorted. For example, truth is presented as a lie, and lies as truth. If an ordinary person kills another person, and if he/she is caught, he/she will be jailed, ill-treated, and, in some cases, sentenced to death. In another case, the leader of a powerful country declares war to other countries and a great number of lives are destroyed. If this leader of a great power is the victor, this is glorious. It is not a criminal act, it is a victory. If an ordinary person kills someone else, he/she will be imprisonned and perhaps put to death. Those who decide wars, powerful countries, powerful people, receive honours and glory, no one is put into prison. I think that these are situations in which the truth is distorted.
The existenc eof samsara is based on contradictions. If there were no contradictions, the world would not exist. Nowadays, on the one hand, there are high-minded people who build hospitals for the welfare of all, who establish schools, and who engage in numerous activities for world-peace. They try very hard and give a lot of their time. For example, scientists in laboratories make drugs and really look for solutions. On the other hand, there are people who make weapons to kill other beings. They invent elaborate weapons, really try hard, put their brains to work, and spend a lot of money. These two activities are in opposition. Samsara is based on contradictions, without contradiction, the three realms of samsara would not exist.
But I don¹t mean to say that making weapons is bad and that building hospitals ou working for peace is good. I don't want to make a sharp distinction. Why? Because all that manifests in the three worlds is of the nature of suffering. Everything is of the nature of suffering. On the one hand, as far as mental suffering is concerned, some like weapons, some don't like them. In such a way, the thoughts of beings in the three realms are varied. Those who like weapons find pleasure in them, those who don¹t like weapons, disapprove of their production. The thoughts of the beings of the three realms are void of reality, and so one cannot thus establish a distinction between good and bad. By nature, everything is void of reality, so it is neither good nor bad. But now, at the level of confusion, for us humans who are under the sway of ignorance, one should see what is harmful. In fact, one should see what is harmful to oneself in each situation. If someone says that such and such a thing is harmful, it depends on the situation: that may or may not be the case. One should give up what is harmful, and one should accomplish what is beneficial.
- What is co-emergent wisdom and how does it manifest?
A lama of the past said what follows and I find it very well-said. What is called co-emergent wisdom dwells in the fundamental nature itself of the mind, inconceivable and inexpressible. To say how it manifests or does not manifest, we do not know. Except for realizing it, we do not know what it is or is not. A lama said: Tilopa never taught, Naropa never listened, this nectar of co-emergent wisdom, who shows it to whom? who receives it from whom? It has not been shown. It is inconceivable and inexpressible. All phenomena are free from elaborations, inconceivable and inexpressible. What is this inconceivable and inexpressible, we do not know. It is the realisation of the wisdom of self-knowing consciousness. It is the realisation of the consciousness which understands things as an illusion, its essence is natural and spontaneous, non-fabricated, like water and waves, unobstructed.
What do inconceivable and inexpressible mean? If we say, things exist, when we analyze, we see that things are devoid of self-existence. But if we say that they do not exist, relatively things exist and they have functions. Things appear and have uses. So then if one says they do not exist, one is stupid. Neither existence, nor non-existence, it is inconceivable and inexpressible. For us, things exist or they don't exist, or they exist and don't exist at the same time, but what can one say?
For example, we meet someone and they say so and so is dead. We meet a close relative, a family member, and we say your relative, is she dead? He answers: No, she is not dead. Is she alive? No, she is not alive! Normally, she is either alive or she is dead, not both at the same time, that does not exist! Why don't you go and see for yourself if she is alive or dead! One must check for oneself if she is alive or dead. Each person has to see for herself if phenomena exist or not. See it naturally through meditation.
- Nowadays, it is difficult to become enlightened...negativity/ path... (inaudible question)
Mainly, it depends on the individual's practice. For example, we are all on the path and the path allows one to progress. If we are on the path and if we practice in the dharma correctly, even if we don't attain Buddhahood, we will not regress in samsara. But if we are on the path, if we are not practicing the dharma, if we do not understand the nature of dharma, then instead of progressing on the path, we regress.
In short, if dharma and our mind integrate then it works. If dharma and our mind unite, with certainty, the power of dharma is present in the mind, and even if we do not realize enlightenment, we will not regress to a state of suffering in the three lower realms of samsara.
- In Buddhist practice, doubts are often the main problem. For us, on this side of the river, some teachings can not be analyzed. For example, a simple subject such as that all beings have been our mothers... But we don¹t know it. What should one do in order not to have doubts about such a teaching? The guru teaches, but sometimes we even have small doubts concerning the guru.
In general, all beings have doubts. To cut doubts, one must understand the dharma. If one doesn't understand the dharma, one will not be able to cut doubts. One must analyze the benefits of the dharma, what the nature of the dharma is.
The second point: there is not a single being who has not been our mother, our father. Sometimes this is strange. I have thought about this sometimes. For example, we Buddhists believe in past lives. In this life, we have parents. We have experienced numerous lives with different parents. During each lifetime, we have had different parents. I am not certain that all beings in the three worlds have been our fathers or our mothers, there must be a few who haven¹t been our parents. But one thing is certain: we have connections with all beings. Maybe they haven¹t all been our parents, but there are none with whom we don¹t have a connection.
Third point: all beings have been our parents. Why is it said that all beings have been our parents? Our parents are kind and in the same way all beings have manifested the same kindness. The Buddha taught to show kindness towards all beings as towards our own parents. Whether beings have been our parents or not, one should consider the kindness of all beings. We are all interconnected, and we depend one on the other. If we did not depend on others, we could not survive. There are so many interdependent factors. For example, for our flesh, our skin, etc., we depend on others and if this were not the case, we could not live. We depend on others. All beings in the three realms rely on each other, rely on the kindness of others. In my opinion, this is the reason for this thought.
If we do not have a good understanding of the dharma, doubts arise. If we do not analyse the meaning of the dharma, then we have doubts. If we have doubts, we have no freedom, no power.
Take a Buddhist person whose parents may not have been very good and who may have negative thoughts towards them. So if in the dharma, we tell him or her: meditate on all beings as if they were your own parents! then he/she will answer: I am not going to meditate on the kindness of my parents, they were not kind. In this case, telling such a person to meditate on all beings as if they were his or her parents is not skillful, is it? Even if those parents were not kind, other people showed kindness towards us. We must help each other. And there is benefit in meditating on compassion while considering the kindness of others.
- I have two questions which have been on my mind for a while. I would like to receive an answer.
First question: we need to have compassion towards all beings as towards our mother. But if someone is opposed to our root-lama, how can one practivce this kind of compassion towards this person?
The second question: we speak of enlightened beings, and we ourselves are ordinary beings. But if persons like Rimpoches, Tulkus do negative things and act wrongly, how can we react? And why do they do it if they are already completely enlightened?
I think that in samsara, beings are veiled by confusion. And there can be many obstacles for the Bodhisattvas dwelling on the higher levels. There are obstacles for ordinary beings like ourselves. Others can at the most be harmful, but the most important is oneself. And one can do a lot of things that are harmful to oneself. Should others harm us, that is secondary. For example, if someone harms our root lama, that is someone in a state of ignorance, and he/she should be the object of our compassion. Why? Not only is our root-lama the object of trust, but he is also endowed with qualities. This person harming him is in a state of ignorance, of confusion. In fact one should have faith in the lama, but this person is veiled by ignorance, so we should have compassion towards him/her. That is the most important.
The second answer. In general, the name of dharma is not sufficient to be a practitioner. A practitioner is someone who practices the dharma. Names are not important, for example, a rock can be called precious, Rimpoche, or again Lama, one can designate it by all sorts of names. If one does not practice the meaning, the mere fact of being called this or that is of no help. One should reflect on that.