The Four Noble Truths-3

The authentic view
Negative emotions, which are attachment and aversion, are discursive thoughts. For example: One should investigate thoroughly feelings like anger, pride and jealousy that cause such an unhappy mind. The causes of great hardship are only the negative emotions that are present in a human’s mind stream. One should say:”These are my enemies!”

This so-called enemy – From the time the enemy sees someone the mind becomes unhappy. Even if it just sees someone’s clothes and shoes, etc. it also makes the mind unhappy and honestly, this is a mistake. Why is that? The anger that is in our mind is the enemy. Anger and negative emotions are our enemies.

An Indian scholar gave this example:”Whenever the enemy throws stones at me or beats me on the head with a stick, I am angry with the stone thrower. Yet, to be honest, I should really be angry at the stick and the stones and not angry at that person.” However, how is it that we do not get angry at the stick and stones? When the enemy hits us using the stones and the stick, the stones and stick are not to blame, they themselves have no control. The exertion of the adversary when he hits us is to blame since he is the one who has the control over the stones and the stick. While the enemy hits based on his exertion, I am angry with him, the person who strikes, but actually he is not to blame either. How is that? Anger arose in him without control. While he used the stick without self-control and hit my head with it, he was involuntarily urged to do so by anger. Therefore, if we really get angry, we should be angry at the anger that exists in the mind. Why? The stick has no power on its own. Likewise, he has no control, because in his very essence, he was urged on by all this anger. For these reasons there are many different wars in the world. The entire unhappiness that exists is due to the constant harm of negative emotions. Because of this coarse mind, we always act without control. It is not necessarily true that all people act always in the wrong way, (because usually they make mistakes when they are possessed by the afflictive emotions).

The Buddha has given one example: When unhappy people in a sanatorium beat the doctor, he does not get angry at these crazy people. Why? Because he knows it is the nature of a madman. By thinking, “it is not his fault”, one’s loving-kindness develops. In that way, those who are able to think in accordance with this authentic view, when difficulties occur to them, they understand that the difficulties they encounter have the nature of samsara. No need to mention that the nature of samsara is hardship. Then, when they understand it, anger will not arise in them towards those who are angry and cause harm. When they know its nature, love and compassion will arise. Because of that, I will now explain the authentic view. Generally speaking, when living in accordance with the right view we gain a lot of benefit even in our daily lives. For social workers and those who do environmental work it is indispensable. It is also extremely important within a family. Whatever task we do within that view, there is great benefit. In terms of spiritual practice, if we are able to follow it within the authentic view, whether we are a businessperson, a politician, or even an economist, the hardships will decrease, and based on that we can also benefit others. Mental suffering can decrease too and benefits will certainly come about. When we experience a general type of suffering, if we are religious, we will immediately, after the hardships appeared to us, go to a temple, pay homage, light butter lamps, and so forth, and talk about our many problems to the gods. Thereupon, when we go to see a Lama and stand in front of him, we talk about our many problems. Doing so, we try to bring our sufferings and problems to an end, but this is not the proper method. There are still great hardships in our mind. Those who have great mental hardships will go to the psychologist and say:”I am mentally disturbed, please give me some advice.” The doctor will give some advice but it is difficult to be able to benefit truly from this one instance of instruction. The most profound advice and instructions are those I have mentioned earlier. We should study them on a regular basis until we get familiar with them. If one is able to go deeper into it, the hardships will not arise from the beginning. There will be no hardships in any activities we carry out if we are always accompanied by the authentic view. Being familiar with it, in whatever daily activities we are engaged in, if we always stick to the right view, our hardships will not able to appear from the start. Through this we will be able to create great benefit. The entire meaning of renunciation, bodhicitta and the authentic view that I have already explained above is condensed into this. It is not only the Buddhist view, and I believe that it is something necessary for everyone who performs pleasant and unpleasant work in this world. The so-called human life especially has a huge potential. Whatever task we do, whether we are businesspersons or social workers, it is important to have a good intention, to be honest and righteous. If we are not honest and righteous but always behave in a deceptive and hypocritical way, there will be no end to our hardships. Therefore, it is said:”to be born as a human has a great potential.”

What is this great potential? It is to accomplish the vast activities of benefiting others and the great ability to attain genuine joy and happiness. Generally we talk about the four worldly activities of eating, sleeping, walking and sitting which are also present among animals. What is then the special distinguishing feature of human beings? It is to be equally concerned about the happiness and suffering of others and not to think only of oneself. To always have a loving mind for others is very important. There is not anyone who does not have self-clinging. To abandon the “I” is not easy. It is not necessary to abandon the so-called “I”, but to make it at a suitable level is good. What may be one’s own wealth in respect to the riches of businesspersons? Whatever riches we have, we should make ourselves joyous and happy while not falling under the power of our own possessions. Otherwise, if we are slaves to our possessions, and if we remain like that we will probably spoil this human life – it will happen that our existence in this world only will be to serve these riches. Our businesses-like and more mundane activities should be of help to others, reduce their problems and increase happiness in the community. It is meaningful to be an economist and also a social worker. The meaning of this work comes from this great ability.

Within Buddhism, what did the Buddha say? He said it is difficult to attain this vessel-like human body. This is just a fact. Generally, to obtain a human body is not difficult, but within humans is difficult to obtain the powerful ability of the vessel-like human body. If we have achieved it, it is extremely important to be able to accomplish vast benefit to both oneself and others.

In short, my ideas today are like this. Those who already know Buddhism will be able to make a benefit of these ideas. Even these who are not Buddhist and think the ideas are valuable will be able to use them for themselves. In this discourse, I believe there are few words that describe the benefit within each ordinary human live. A spiritual path does not necessarily have to be Buddha dharma. If we always have a good heart in any circumstance and are able to accomplish good activities for the benefit of others, our self-clinging is very small. If we are able to practice well based on the authentic view, which I was talking about earlier, and think based on the awakened mind, we do definitely not need Buddhism as our religion. If we are not able to practice well based on religions, it is a big mistake. Only going to a temple and supplicating the deities is useless. There is no need to do so. First, we who work within societies, should have a good foundation, a good motivation and a good heart. Based on that, if we perform religious tasks, they will bring benefit for others and also for ourselves. If we lack a good motivation, whatever religion we follow, they will be mere names and labels. If we are able to cultivate a good human character, a good mind, to be a noble person and combine it with a religion, this is said to be the genuine religion. In that way, if we are able to live in accordance with the authentic path, no matter which religion we follow Christianity Hinduism, Buddhism, to mention only a few – they have become one. Upon such a foundation, being connected with the authentic view and thinking accordingly, if we are able to cultivate a good human character, then it is fine to follow any religion whatsoever, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.

I hope and aspire that all of you can go on joined together with this practice and the nature that has the essential meaning within each human’s life.

This talk has been given by Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche to several Christian families in Berlin, Germany, about the beneficial methods that one can practice daily based on the views, means and the path of Buddha dharma related to the Four Noble Truths.