Probably a good way to start is a message that was sent to us by Trungpa Rinpoche many years ago now on an old fashioned tape, which we should put onto disc and make copies of so that people can have it. But there he says I think two things of great importance. He’s saying the Buddha gave us this one method and that was meditation, and so that’s a strong focus throughout Buddhism of course, throughout the Buddhadharma, the way of the Buddha. Then he says something which is it would seem, Rinpoche said stepping beyond that, because we think of meditation as being rather what I do myself and then he said stepping beyond that he is saying our purpose is to enlighten the world. [aesop_image img=”” imgwidth=”500″ align=”left” offset=”-200px” captionposition=”left” lightbox=”off”]That sounds a rather tall order. Some people might think a bit grandiose. But it’s not, because just as the very basis of Buddhadharma is to meditate, the very essence or the heart of it, the heart of the Great Way, which is the essence of the dharma, bodhicitta, which is the awakened heart. The awakened heart which reaches out towards everyone, to everybody in your immediate community, your particular Dharma community, your Sangha, beyond that into the community that is around you in the external world. And then to see what influence you can bear through your development of meditation and understanding in the world at large. And then to realise subtly, profoundly, that what you do actually affects everybody. And when you do it in a Dharma way, something which is profound and powerful also becomes something that is very vast and goes out to affect everyone. Not just human beings, not just animals, but literally into the universe really. And the reason is what you do goes into the depths of being that we all share, no matter how you might seem far apart in time and space and far apart sometimes you feel in different qualities, so you feel sometimes some people are very evil or don’t participate or partake of the same qualities as everybody else. And sometimes we think that some people are very wonderful and we think well I couldn’t begin to match up to that somehow. But all that is really relevant because when we say meditation, it’s a bit of a misnomer really, because the word that is usually translated as meditation is the Tibetan word gom which in Sanskrit is bhavana which means really development and it doesn’t just include the meditation practice that you do when you go into your room and practice by yourself, but it goes further than that, because it’s connected with the way you behave towards everyone you encounter. Then with that as a basis, the development of wisdom, what is called prajna. Prajna in Tibetan would be sherab. She is like the root jna in prajna meaning to know. And rab, the pra bit in prajna , is like infinite, great, unbounded. It’s that kind of quality of knowing or quality of wisdom. And it’s great and vast because it’s the kind of wisdom that when it’s really present spreads everywhere. It’s not just where you are, it doesn’t have any boundaries. It goes to the full extent of the universe both vast and in its profound aspect as well. And it means that you realise that your conception of the universe, when it starts from what you call an ordinary position, is fundamentally flawed. Because the most wonderful thing to see really is that everything that arises as they say, the simple Buddhist idea that everything that arises passes away, but it doesn’t mean that anything arises as such. There is more almost the sense of flow in the nature of things, and that flow is ungraspable. And your whole experience and everything that goes with what you do and how you behave, what you are, what you think, is in its nature ungraspable. You do not find any solidity that you can rest upon. And yet there is some sense in which you can rest perhaps you might say, in the quality of flow itself. The quality of flow which is prajna and actually means that the flowing nature of the basis of the heart is not anything anymore that has any boundaries. [aesop_image img=”” imgwidth=”500″ align=”left” offset=”-200px” captionposition=”left” lightbox=”off”]So we refer to the boundless states, the apramanas, which means love, compassion, joy , it’s said at the done by others, which means joy at the good done by everything that appertains to non-ego. And then equalness, equanimity in which everything has the same taste, the same quality. You never exhibit a bias, you never have to. Sometimes they’ve been called in Buddhism by western scholars mostly, the social emotions. But they’re not really emotions. They come from a basic quality of the heart, and what we mean by emotions usually also have got some flaw in them associated with egocentricity. So meditation is something that spreads out beyond the narrow confines of what’s commonly thought of as meditation into everything that you do in your life, and everything you can perceive with that vast wisdom eye that all of us share. And then as a result of that going out to the action of the four boundless states of love, compassion, the vibrancy of joy and the equal taste of things. The equal taste that means I can truly love all beings equally because of the same taste. It’s not that the same taste makes everything bland, but it makes the possibility of universal love, universal compassion and the universal sense of joy and sympathy/empathy with others. Because of that then you can speak of the action that enlightens the world. It would be egocentric to think that you personally were going to do that. That’s not how it works. Having equality that I’ve just spoken of, means that for them to really come through, egocentricity has to collapse. But it doesn’t mean that as the PR of ego might suggest you wouldn’t be able to act. You act better through the power of non-ego. The actions you do from ego’s point of view are feeble, weak. It’s from the spontaneity of non-ego that true ego arises. And then you don’t need to think am I doing this? Am I conquering the world? Am I making the world a different and better place? You just do what needs to be done in any situation in which you find yourself. And that action has some boundless quality associated with it that goes into the depth of things where everybody touches each other you might say, and then into the vastness of that interconnection. So that was the implication of Rinpoche’s message. How do we realise that in Longchen? Because it was a message to Longchen.

In Longchen we have to think in terms of a mandala dharmacakra, a bringing together of like-minded students. And we have to create that. So if it’s not there already then that’s one of our jobs to bring that about. That mandala dharmacakra is like a wheel with a centre, spokes and a rim. And it’s all to be thought of as a single entity. It represents the Three Jewels in One. In the centre is the teacher who should not take his centrality in any egocentric fashion. It’s simply that the teacher is the mechanism about which things move, the centre, the hub. The teachings radiate from the teacher like the spokes of the wheel. But those spokes they are not really solid, you should think of them more like channels. More like nerves I suppose in some sense, blood vessels, in which something flows in both directions. There’s the teaching which flows from the teacher to the student. But the students provide inspiration, action, their own sense of community that flows back and informs the Guru as to the nature and dynamism of the mandala itself. And that’s part of the teaching, it’s part of the Dharma. And that community, the rim as it were, is the Sangha. So there is Buddha Dharma, Sangha. Guru being the Buddha, Dharma being the spokes through which energy and inspiration flows back towards the teacher from the community, and then the community itself which is the Sangha, the third jewel. There’s a kind of prophecy that in coming time, the Sangha jewel which is ourselves really, will be of primary importance, and will become one of the most important one of the Three Jewels, inspiring the Dharma, which in some sense is the teacher and then being able to reveal, within the teacher perhaps for the students, and then within each member of the Sangha see that the whole wheel, the whole dharmacakra is Buddha. And that the dharmacakra is something dynamic and the dharmacakra is always thought of as turning. Turning of the dharmacakra is the turning of the teaching itself. And that’s what goes out into the world when Rinpoche says, “to enlighten the world”.

[aesop_content color=”#5b5b5b” background=”#c2f8c4″ height=”100px” position=”left” innerposition=”40px, 20px, auto, auto” imgrepeat=”no-repeat” floaterposition=”right” floaterdirection=”up”] So, the question is how can we make that happen? [/aesop_content]

Yes obviously the teacher is important, the teaching is important, but if each member of the Sangha just thinks in terms only of the Guru and the teaching, then it’s like they’re disconnected spokes. It’s very important that there’s always a sense that the thing is a whole, the rim of the wheel is completely joined together, which means that all members of the Sangha that form the dharmacakra itself, the mandala of the dharmacakra you might say, think of themselves and the whole together, in a sense as interpenetrating each other. What we don’t want is separate practitioners relating to the centre. This is a model that used to be, in Britain and in many western countries, certainly when I was just starting in the Dharma it was like that. People did get together but it was a bit loose, and the person that they thought was most important was either the monk who was in charge, or the person who was teaching, that was the central thing. The idea of community wasn’t really present, it was rather literally peripheral. Now things have to be different. We must think in terms of the total community and it being a community of the Buddhadharma. [aesop_image img=”” imgwidth=”400″ align=”left” captionposition=”left” lightbox=”off”]It is true you then mustn’t act just as individuals just polarised to the centre, but neither must you think just in terms of little subgroups of people within the mandala. Like my little group of friends who I’ve known perhaps for many years and I don’t really invite anybody else into my little subgroup. The subgroup is then relating to the centre just like the individuals are and that’s no good either. There must be always the thought of the complete community, for there really to be a community of understanding and a true community of people working together. So there must be ways to encourage and foster that by special meetings perhaps, where people meditate together, where people do certain important acts. Like we had one yesterday for new people entering the mandala who wanted to take refuge. I mean in some sense they had been associated with the mandala already, and they wanted to take the further step of committing themselves to the Buddhadharma. In that case also on the same day the child of a couple within the mandala who was being introduced to the mandala and being given a name that indicated that entrance into the body of the mandala itself. The whole thing has to become a kind of family in which everybody feels that connection. So one thing is how to foster that feeling, and things like the ceremonies that we had yesterday are examples of that but there are many other methods that you can use. Any kind of community activity, and community activities that reach out into the wider world as well. One thing that I admire for example in the Sikh community is feeding the multitude, you might say. That sounds a bit grand but the idea that you lay on a feast, food, not just for yourselves but invite people outside the mandala to join in. And that’s really doing quite a special thing to connect to the wider community. And anything which is of that nature or like that would be an excellent thing to do. It helps to bind the community, your own community, together in the mandala and also to reach out to others. It obviously has to be done in the way of Buddhadharma which can be worked out I think in a fairly easy fashion, not I think too difficult a thing to do. But it has to be there because we are trying to inspire people in the basic view, meditation, action of the Buddhadharma itself. It’s very important that people have a basic understanding of the view of what the Dharma is. That everybody meditates and develops their practice. But that you do it for everybody you don’t do it for yourself. In fact you don’t really think that you do it for yourself you think I’m doing it for the community. You might even say I’m doing it for the Guru. But the one person it’s never done for is you. It’s very important to have that sense that when I meditate it transcends the sense of myself. Farther than that of course you have to think you do it for the world, for humanity, for all sentient beings in fact. Tibetans are very good in the attitude they have to that. Because if you meditate, you say, “I’ve been on retreat I’ve been meditating”, they don’t say like Westerner might ,”Oh how I envy you, I wish I could do that!”. They say thank you. That really epitomises the attitude that they think that you would do it naturally for the community, the community of everyone. You are doing it for them, that’s why they would say thank you. They are also saying thank you on behalf of the world and of all sentient beings and of the Buddhist community at large. So we have to some way of emphasising this when people go into retreat, you’re not doing it for yourself, you’re doing it for the sake of others.

There is an idea that maybe is a little bit -would create too much paranoia for people initially although it’s good once you get a real understanding of it and be able to step beyond the paranoid feeling people feel about it. And that is where you inculcate the idea that you are being observed by the bodhisattvas and buddhas, the great yogins, siddhas, gurus of the past, that they have their eye on you when you’re meditating, and they applaud what you are doing. [aesop_image img=”” imgwidth=”400″ align=”right” captionposition=”left” lightbox=”off”]In a sense you are doing it for them, because they only do it for others. So it’s like as it passes to them it’s radiated outwards to all sentient beings. In some sense you’re using the wondrous nature of what the gurus, bodhisattvas, buddhas of the past…I say of the past but actually there is no such thing as the past in that sense. They are eternal in their nature. You are observed by them and you are doing it for them and they have a power that at the moment you don’t have, and what you might call in somewhat crude language, a re-broadcasting what you do. It’s as though it’s magnified as you offer it to them and don’t keep it to yourself. It becomes something which is magnified and then spread out to everyone. And that’s a very inspiring thing to be able to think. As long as you can step beyond the paranoia and I don’t think that’s difficult. The paranoia of course is that they’re looking at you and criticising, but that’s tremendously Western somehow, that paranoia. They are applauding everything you do even if what you do has flaws, as it’s sure to have. But there must be good in it because your intention is good. Again it’s a western thing, “Oh my intention, maybe it’s not good”. Rubbish! You are doing it, you must at some level within yourself have good genuine real intention to benefit others, or you wouldn’t be here. So no nonsense that you’re a bad person in some way. Yes, you have flaws, but you definitely have good aspects, benevolent disposition, and primordially deep within you, you pass beyond notions of being flawed or not being flawed. [aesop_image img=”” imgwidth=”250″ align=”left” captionposition=”left” lightbox=”off”]Your being is the source of all goodness, and you must have, as Trungpa Rinpoche says, eternal doubtlessness about your own nature. Not in an egocentric way, it’s something that passes beyond ego. So that’s very elevated perhaps. Not Olympian, because you can all do it in so far as there is divineness at all, don’t forget you are as divine in your own nature as the Great Compassionate One, the Mahakarunika, the Greatly Compassionate Avalokitesvara or the Greatly Compassionate Tara, male and female, makes no difference. That divine, sacred aspect of being is as much in you as it is in them. In fact you could even say that it wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for you. This is just an aspect of saying that from the Gurus all that is divine and sacred radiates, it doesn’t exist in itself. And it’s said that sometimes some practitioners and teachers go wrong because they think the sacredness exists external to them and external to their own teachers, so it exists in itself somewhere by itself. But it is the very nature of the primordial being where we all join together in the most profound place. Gurus, ordinary people, Buddhas alike, and that’s the ground from which we’re working really. So, some practical things. Yes we do, I have said it just now, we need to do and to create special days and special opportunities for people to come together as a community to respect each other as well as the Guru and the teaching, as well as the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. To recognise that we do it for each other, whatever Dharma we do, we do it for each other, we do it for the Guru, we do it for the teaching, which is alive in itself. We do it for the external community and the world.

[aesop_content color=”#5b5b5b” background=”#bdfafd” height=”100px” position=”right” innerposition=”40px, 200px, auto, auto” imgrepeat=”no-repeat” floaterposition=”right” floaterdirection=”up”] A place of residence [/aesop_content]

We need to create facilities as well, to do that. We have created opportunities like I was speaking about yesterday, but we need somehow the concreteness of a place of residence for the teacher which is more than just a place for the teacher. It’s a place that is a space for the teacher to invite groups of people for specific teachings, to make special connections, to begin to create this mandala that I am speaking of. Khenpo Rinpoche said such a place should be near the centre of the country which he thought of as in the Oxford area, and Trungpa Rinpoche thought the same in that Oxford was a very important place. So one of our goals is to find a place that’s accessible , not in the centre of Oxford, that’s one thing apart from any other consideration that would be very costly. Perhaps somewhat on the periphery somewhere, that would be large enough to do the things that I feel need to be done there. We need to have groups of people that are following the Dharma that have to make an effort to draw people into such centres, so that people feel inspired to practice and become part of the Buddhist path. We have a course called the Path of Freedom (POF) that is being developed, it’s not fully developed yet. That should form the basis for such groups. And that POF should also be taught in a concentrated way, sometimes perhaps at a particular period of the year so that people can join in and participate in that, those who are interested. And we should go out of our way to create interest.

We need to develop the roles in the mandala for groups and for individuals to perform certain crucial tasks. It’s very important when you’re performing those tasks that you do it with the minimum kind of eccentricity and the minimum kind of egocentricity. You should try and do it in such a way that it’s always informed by Dharma. And that part of your meditation practice concerns the role that you have in the mandala. You think about that and you think how to express that in a way that inspires others to want to join in and to help you. So you shouldn’t be thinking all the time I’ll do this myself. It’s important to reach out to others in the mandala so that you can get others in the mandala to help you to make your role work.
[aesop_content color=”#5b5b5b” background=”#fcfebc” height=”100px” position=”right” innerposition=”40px, 300px, auto, auto” imgrepeat=”no-repeat” floaterposition=”right” floaterdirection=”up”] A living community [/aesop_content]

It’s very important, and perhaps this has not been the case as much as it should have been, is you can be welcoming to people inside the mandala maybe, and even that has not always been the case, as I say you can sometimes get exclusive clubs or sub-groups within the mandala, and that’s definitely something to be discouraged. But you need to have a welcoming attitude when you reach out to the wider community. And you should find some way of thinking about how to do this in a way that inspires and people feel that Longchen is a good place to enter and to be part of. That people do see it as a living community, they do see it as like a family with mother and father, with sons and daughters. Not necessarily in just an exclusive way so that you have one…it’s like that sense of the overall pattern is reflected within the mandala itself. So for example when new people come in maybe they could be assigned to someone who is like a kind of friend who can advise them as to how the teachings work, the purpose of the mandala, how to relate to it, how to relate to the other people in the mandala and so on. And then that’s good for the person who’s doing that because they have to think of the mandala as a whole all the time, and they are also encouraging new people to do the same. It’s like a friend but also in some sense it’s like being a parent. So it reflects the…there’s nothing wrong in having sub-mandalas like those within the mandala , as long as they’re all joined together. The problem is when you have sub-mandalas which don’t connect to any of the others and only join to the centre.

I’m not sure whether it’s a good idea to have what you might call Dharma businesses. Trungpa Rinpoche felt it was, I think maybe it is, but maybe we have to grow a bit first before that starts to make sense. I don’t know, it’s a thing for you to think about. But I think that at the moment the most important thing is thinking of the mandala in terms of the teaching, the practice, the Guru, but overarching all the community and the fact that everything you do is for that purpose. And for the beyond of that, reaching out to the community.
[aesop_content color=”#444444″ background=”#c7f8ca” height=”100px” position=”right” innerposition=”40px, 450px, auto, auto” imgrepeat=”no-repeat” floaterposition=”right” floaterdirection=”up”] May all beings be well [/aesop_content]

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